Posts Tagged ‘warmth’

From Dark and Dated to Light and Livable

December 17, 2022

Oh, my! – I hung lots of these chintz florals, ” satin ” look (the design of the dark green at the bottom of the wall), and dark colors back in the ’90’s . Sure enough – this home was built and wallpapered in 1994.
IIt’s still a good look, IMO, and the homeowner still likes it. But she’s just gotten tired of it. So – time for an update !
She also decided to eliminate the chair rail , so the new wallpaper will go ceiling to floor . Here you see some damage to the drywall where the chair rail molding was removed .
What a change! Now the room’s look is quiet and fresh .
The buffet , topped with a decorative mirror , will go on this wall . That’s why I centered the pattern in between the windows , so it will fall evenly on either side of the furnishings .
I also plotted so that a full “Moroccan lantern” (that’s what this style of trellis pattern is called), would balance out between the crown molding and the window molding. There were several of these 12.5″ high areas all around the room, so this placement of whole “lantern” motifs gave the room a pleasing look.
It also worked out that the lanterns were evenly placed and kept whole between the crown molding and the baseboard. See the second following photo to see what I’m talking about
As a note – just this one window wall took me about five hours to measure , calculate , and hang . Getting the pattern to go over, around, and under the two windows , and still line up and match correctly , took some time and futzing. The material was thick and stiff , and a bit tricky to fit into corners and trim around the decorative window molding .
In the foreground you see my work table area . The homeowner has let me put protective padding on her dining room table and then set my work table on that. This saves space and allows plenty of room for my ladder and other tools as I work around all four walls.
So that I could center the pattern on this wall , I had to start hanging my first strip in the middle of the wall. I was lucky this time, that the pattern was centered exactly on the edge of the wallpaper roll . Sometimes (as in the one I did yesterday – see previous post ) the center of the design motif is a to the right or left of the edge of the wallpaper . This, naturally, means you’ve got to do more measuring and plotting and double-checking , to be sure the center of the design falls down the center of the wall .
Back to the photo above … that dark block on the right side of my work table is my laser level. It’s shooting a perfectly plumb red line onto the wall. Here I’m lining up my first strip of paper butted against this red line .
Switch topics … Back in 1994, the original installer did a very nice job of hanging the wallpaper. But … he didn’t prime the new drywall first. That lack of primer / protective layer means that the wallpaper will actually bond to the drywall. I tried, but was unable to get the existing wallpaper off . Eventually, you need to factor in time , damage to the wall , paste residue left on the wall, and take a different tac if called for.
So I skim-floated over the seams , so they wouldn’t show under the new paper , and also floated over the damaged drywall where the chair rail had been removed . Sanded smooth , and then primed the patched areas as well as the original wallpaper, with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 . This stuff will adhere to the light acrylic (slick) surface of the original wallpaper, as well as protect it from moisture from my paste on the new wallpaper. ( Moisture could cause the underlying original wallpaper to expand , creating bubbles that will look bad, or loose areas that will pull away from the wall, creating a bubble or pocket.)
My primer is also lightly pigmented, so it helps block out the dark color and busy pattern of the original wallpaper . This particular new wallpaper is quite opaque , but not all of them are, so a pigmented primer is important , IMO .

Left corner of the buffet wall. Here you can see how the lantern motifs are placed between ceiling and floor.
The background has a lightly mottled effect, that mimics grasscloth a bit, and also adds more depth and warmth than just a plain solid color .
Been havin’ more than a fair share of defects lately, especially this week. This paper had on both front and back sides, incidences of these black flecks . They seemed to be maybe charcoal , so I wasn’t too worried about their black bleeding through to the surface , like ink or any oil-based substance will do.
Most of them were embedded in the material itself, so could not be wiped off , nor dug out with a razor blade . Some I had to cut around and discard the affected paper. Others were so small as to not be noticeable once the paper was up on the wall and all the furniture and artwork was back in the room.
There was also one 3′ section of wallpaper that had an odd streak or arc running across it. It wasn’t ink . It was more like some kind of compromise to the substrate . I noticed it was I was pasting the back of the paper . I turned it over and, sure enough, you could see it a little on the surface. (see photo in previous post) It’s the kind of thing that was subtle, but would catch your eye when looking at the wall from a distance . It was minor , but I discarded that strip . Good thing I have the homeowners purchase a little extra wallpaper .
The manufacturer is Designer Wallcoverings , which is a good quality brand (aside from the printing defects I described earlier ). It was a non-woven / paste the wall material , which is pretty user-friendly . It will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate . Stain-resistant , and ” breathable ” in humid conditions .
The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston . Dining room installer

Textured Faux Grasscloth on Master Bedroom Accent Wall

December 9, 2022

Before. I’ve skim-floated the textured wall , sanded it smooth , wiped off the residual dust , and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer . Now we’re ready for wallpaper !
Done! Just a bit of texture , and a little neutral color to add some warmth to this large , mostly-grey , master bedroom . Oh – and some subtle sparkle . See following photos .
It looks like real grasscloth . But it’s a faux! To help these homeowners avoid the disappointing color variations and low durability of real grasscloth , I encouraged them to consider textured vinyl products that recreate the look and texture of the real stuff , but without the drawbacks. Please click and read my link to info about grasscloth on the right of this page.
Real grasscloth , and the fauxes , as well, have visible seams (very minimal issue with the fauxes). So it’s important to balance the strips , so you have equal widths of panels as you traverse the wall. In other words, you don’t want five 36″ wide strips and then one 20″ wide strip.
And you’ll want to center those strips on the wall. Position them so you have an equal number of equally-sized strips on both the right and left sides of the wall.
Another design concept is to not have a seam fall down the center of a wall. Rather, it just feels better aesthetically to have the strip straddle the center line .
Here I’m hanging my first strip, having already calculated where the center of the wall is, the center of the wallpaper panel is, measured over to where the seam should fall, and then placed the red line of my laser level so it will guide where I should butt the edge of the wallpaper against.
That’s my Bosch laser level gizmo sitting on the top of the headboard, shooting its red light beam onto the wall.
Another shot. I’m using the vertical light beam ; the horizontal beam is not relevant in this install .
This textured vinyl material does a pretty darned good job of recreating the look and feel of real grasscloth . This photo is from about 6′ away.
A closer look. Note the bit of silver shimmer in the background , that adds a luxe look to the overall effect .
The wallcovering is by York , one of my preferred brands . It’s on a non-woven backing , which has many advantages over traditional paper-papers. It’s breathable , stain-resistant , will strip off the wall easily and in one piece with minimal / no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate .
It can be hung by the paste-the-wall method (which is what I did today) or the paste the paper technique (which I use most of the time).
I felt that the seams laid down better and had less ” rebound ” edge curl from factory trimming than many of the heavier vinyl faux non-woven backed materials I’ve worked with. In other words, I liked this product pretty much!
this particular material was also thin and flexible , so it was easy to work with and manipulate if needed.
The home is in the Spring Branch area of Houston.

Cozy, Slightly Rustic, Textured Paperweave for Houston Heights Breakfast Nook

October 30, 2022
Breakfast nook “before” is bright and airy – but washed out and uninspiring. The vertical tan lines are paint I’ve striped under where the seams will fall, to prevent the light colored primer from peeking through.
“After” has warmth, life, and a cheery feel. With a little color contrast, now you can see the detailed woodwork and window molding. The paper has a bit of a tropical, thatched roof, Ernest Hemmingway, sort of feel.
Note I’ve balanced / centered the pattern so it falls evenly and equally on either side of the window . Note how perfectly the motifs fill the space above the windows, as well as below the windows. It’s a minor thing that you don’t consciously notice, but it gives the room a grounded , balanced feeling .
Another angle . The chandelier is a major feature in the room. I love the way the chunky beads repeat the color and theme of the white pattern in the wallpaper.
Unlike most wallpapers that come in rolls of standard sizes , this material comes in continuous yardage on one huge (and HEAVY ) bolt .
The height of the motifs perfectly fits the space between the window and the crown molding . No flower tops got chopped off in this room !
There are five windows. This is the area between two of them, including an obtuse angle . It took a LONG time to get the paper around all five windows, keeping the pattern intact .
Close-up showing the texture . This is a paperweave , which is similar to a grasscloth , as both are natural fibers and materials . Because this paper weave is woven, instead of having stiff, straight strands of grass crossing the wallpaper , it was a lot more flexible and workable than regular grasscloth .
The space over the door molding was just 4 1/16″ high. The flower motif fit in here perfectly .
You can see along the seam in the center of the photo , that some of the fibers may try to come off the backing , especially at seams and areas where you’ve cut into the material , such as trimming around window moldings and other obstacles . This is pretty minor .
Overall, the seams are virtually invisible .
One other thing I didn’t like about this paper is that, after the wallpaper was made, the color was applied to the front, like paint . This made the color subject to abrading or flaking off under even light rubbing . It would have been better IMO to have dyed the fibers and then sewn / glued them on to the paper backing . Then the color would go all the way through. Not a biggie – you just have to work slowly and carefully and gently.
Oh, and you can’t get paste or water or fingerprints on the surface, either – because they can’t be washed off and can stain .
The pattern is called Papavero and is by Casa Branca .
The material has an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a straightedge and razor blade . Takes a lot of extra time , and even more so because you have to press harder to get through the thick fibers than with a traditional wallpaper .
A picture of my straightedge and razor blade . I’m trimming something else here (that will be blogged about later), but you get the idea .
A really bad photo of a really perfect chandelier . It’s chunky , white , and the shape of the ‘beads’ repeat the flower motifs in the wallpaper. The windows will have Roman shades made of a somewhat coarse white linen type fabric , which will coordinate beautifully with the texture of the wallpaper .
The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Testing Paint Colors

October 23, 2022
Paint color test patches on my clients’ entry wall .
Here’s what it looked like before. Guess which color swatch won?
Neither! Wallpaper won!
Very much the better option, as wallpaper offers pattern , dimension , warmth , and personality .

Welcoming Room for Mother-in-Law

August 24, 2022
This young couple hosts the mother / mother-in-law a few times a year, and are lucky enough to have a private spare bedroom for her. To make it special, they wanted to jazz up the area a little. Enter this fun and whimsical wallpaper pattern .
The room before was a pretty shade of murky teal – but needed personality and warmth.
The wall started out with a light orange peel texture . I skim-floated the wall, and then sanded it smooth .
Along the baseboard at the floor , here’s the dust from sanding , along with the sanding sponge I use – this is a modern take on the idea of wrapping sandpaper around a block of wood .
I tack painter’s plastic across the wall from ceiling to floor to prevent dust from getting into the room or onto the furniture .
Here’s the wall smooth and primed , ready for wallpaper .
Since this is a dark wallpaper and I want to be sure that the white wall does not peek out from behind the seams, I stripe dark paint along the wall under where the seams will fall. Because non-woven papers don’t expand when wet with paste , it’s simple to measure the width of your strips and plot out where each seam will fall. Use the laser level as your guide . Do a Search here (upper right hand corner) to read more about this technique.
I use craft paint from Texas Art Supply (or any hobby store ), diluted with water from a Gatorade bottle cap , and applied with a scrap of sponge .
Further insurance is taking a chalk pastel (never oil pastel – oil bleeds and will stain wallpaper) and running it along the edge of the wallpaper strip – from the backside to avoid staining the surface – to cover the white substrate the wallpaper is printed on. This is to prevent white from peeking out at the seams , which can happen with dark papers.
Centering the first strip in the middle of the wall, and using my laser level to ensure the strip is nice and straight and plumb .
Note: The strip is not centered on the wall. The dominant pattern element is. Notice that the center of the dominant pattern motif – the white circular flower – is 3.5″ to the right of the left edge. This means that I had to position the left edge of the wallpaper 3.5″ to the left of the center of the wall, in order to get the round white flower to fall down the center of the wall.
When you look again at the finished photo, you’ll notice that the white flower falls down the middle of the walls, and that it also appears at equal distance from both the right and left walls.
Most people wouldn’t be able to put their finger on this symmetry , but it is something they subconsciously notice , and it lends a feeling of orderliness to the room.
As orderly as you can be, that is, with pigs dancing around the meadow dandelions !
Finished accent wall . The three other walls painted in blue were a bit of a surprise, because one would think the more dominant color of green would be used. But with so much green in the wallpaper, green on the walls, too, would have been too much, perhaps. I like the cool feeling that the blue creates .
There is plenty of the exact same blue in the wallpaper pattern to tie the walls and wallpaper together.
Close up shows the stamped printing technique .
You’ve gotta love a frolicking pig in a hand-knitted sweater!
This pattern is called Hoppet Folk and is in the Wonderland line by Borastapeter , a Scandinavian company .
It’s a nice, sturdy but flexible non-woven material that can be hung via the paste the wall installation method .
In addition, this product will strip off the wall easily and in one piece , with no damage to your walls, when it’s time to redecorate.
This is a very popular pattern, and I’ve hung it more times than I can count, just in the last two or three years. It does come in other colors – but most people gravitate toward this black version.
The townhome is in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Wallpaper in an RV? Sure Thing!

July 27, 2022
This image is from American Farmhouse magazine. It shows a very small travel trailer. In the bedroom area, you can see an accent wall covered with wallpaper. What a cool idea, to add some spunk and visual interest and warmth to this traveling home.
The pattern is a William Morris design, probably by Morris & Co.

Grasscloth on Several Bookshelves Today

May 12, 2022
Home office work station niche primed and ready for wallpaper.
Done. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this niche was about 39″ wide, so it required two strips, both trimmed down to 19.5″ wide. Generally, design-wise, you try not to put a seam down the center. But in this case there was no other viable option. This seam was practically invisible.
In the photo, the seam is a little to the right of center. You always see the seams in grasscloth, and this is about as perfect as it gets.
The homeowner, who is an interior designer, did a superb job of finding a grasscloth that’s murky blue hue coordinates perfectly with the color of the cabinetry.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the manufacturer of this material.
Close-up showing the texture.
Twin bookshelves flanking the fireplace wall in the family room, primed and ready for wallpaper.
Grasscloth has been installed. It’s nice to not have the shelves in place – so much easier to get that paper up!
Bookshelf niche on the right.
Bookshelf niche on the left. Note the slight shading and color variations . These are typical of natural products like grasscloth, and are not considered a defect. As the manufacturers say, these variations are ” part of the inherent beauty of these natural materials .”
Shelves will go in these niches and decorative items will obscure these slight imperfections.
TV room bookshelf niche. Yes, t’was I who swiped the smiley face and the horse head into the primer. 🙂
Done. This niche is a tad less than 36″ wide, so only one strip was needed, hence, no seams. Any color variations you see are due to shadows.

Close-up.
Closer-up. Scissors for perspective. These days, people are loving the subtle texture and warmth of grasscloth , paperweaves and other natural materials .
The manufacturer of the grasscloth in both the family room and TV room is Schumacher . The home is in the far west area of Katy , a suburb west of Houston.

Colorful, But In A Subdued Way

April 23, 2022
My clients had purchased and moved into one of those all white new-build homes in the Houston Heights that are popular right now. The blank slate style suits many homeowners – but my family wanted more personality and warmth.
They found this Hollyhocks 4-panel mural by House of Hackney . They love the color and fresh liveliness of the design.
This wallpaper does a whole lot to perk up the breakfast area, but doesn’t overwhelm or feel childish, because the colors are muted.
A snug eating area.
Close-up looks like a chalk or pastel drawing.
The flowers remind me of active people – a lot of people talking and milling about.
This is a non-woven material. It can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, although I prefer to paste the paper.

Sleekly, Cooly, Scandinavian

February 19, 2022
This family has lived all over the world, including several years in Denmark. The mom has definitely picked up a love for the cool colors and sleek look of Scandinavian decorating. Here is a corner of the entry, before, and a peek into adjoining rooms.
Cream and silvery grey on white tree foliage add just a touch of texture and warmth, while keeping with the all-white color scheme in this home.
The room consisted of four corners of wall space, and four chunks of shorter areas over doorways.
Note how the cool light fixture repeats the look of peeking through branches. They are going to trade out that yellowish bulb for a whiter one.
The wallpaper has a slight raised ink texture.
This is Sandberg ‘s popular Rafael pattern. I’ve hung it a number of times, but this is the first time in the white-on-white colorway.
This is a non-woven material , and will strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. It was flexible and quite nice to work with.
The home is pretty new, very contemporary, and is in the Montrose / Museum District / Rice Village area of Houston.

Soft, Sweet, and Wistful for Children’s Bathroom

February 25, 2021

Before my baby blue primer hit the walls, this hall bathroom was all white – white walls, white tile, white vanity and mirrors and sink. Just a little bit of light grey color, and a simple white line drawing on this wallpaper do wonders to give this room warmth and personality. The design reminds me of a fairy tale. The family is bowled over by the change!

The paper is by Borastapeter, a Scandinavian company. It is a superb product – washable, easy to strip off when it’s time to redecorate, soft and supple enough to make hanging it in tight areas easier, seams are virtually invisible, non-woven material so can be hung via the paste-the-wall method (I pasted the paper instead).

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.