Posts Tagged ‘window’

Anthropologie Gem Stones on Dining Room Accent Wall

April 11, 2019

Talk about going from boring to bold! The homeowner likes geology, didn’t like the boring beige walls, and wanted to pull in some blue to this dining room, because she has dark blue accents in the adjoining living room. What a great choice this paper is!

The paper is by York, in the Antonia Vella line, and was bought through Anthropologie – but it is available via regular wallpaper retailers, too, like my favorite source (see page at right).

This homeowner purchased her paper before I came out to measure and, like many people unfamiliar with measuring for wallpaper, she ordered too little. So I had her order one more double roll… which, even though she requested the same run of #58, they sent run #88. I ended up needing that additional bolt for just the two short strips over the window, so the color difference between the two runs was not really very noticeable.

The dimensions in this room relative to the dimensions of the wallpaper were amazing. Because the two walls on either side of the window were symmetrical, and because the homeowners had a buffet and a china cabinet centered on each wall, I wanted to center the pattern in the middle of each wall. This meant that as the strips of paper met over the window, there would be a pattern mis-match. But since it was only 10″ high, and since the pattern was so wild, I figured I could disguise the mis-match fairly well.

What’s cool is, each of those wall spaces turned out to be just a tad less than the width of three strips of wallpaper (27″). So when I centered the first strip, and then hung one more on either side of it, only about 3/4″ needed to be trimmed off each side – and the pattern remained virtually intact. Meaning that none of the swoopy lines got chopped off vertically.

And then, as I was bringing the two pieces over the window together in the center of the window, it turned out that the width of the window was amazingly just a smidgen less than the width of the two strips of wallpaper. So when the two strips met in the middle, there wasn’t much of a pattern mis-match at all. Only about an inch of paper was lost, and the pattern was not disrupted visually much at all.

I don’t think I’ve ever hung wallpaper on a wall where the dimensions worked out so miraculously perfectly.

This home is in the Timbergrove neighborhood of Houston.

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂

Mildew on Wall Indicates Moisture Problem – Somewhere

October 9, 2018


I have just stripped off a solid vinyl wallcovering that had been up for at least 10 years, possibly twice that. The entire wall was covered with mildew. The mildew was present just on the exterior wall; not any of the walls that connected to interior areas of the home.

Mildew breeds when there is moisture. This indicates that there may be a leak in the home’s siding, or a leak in a window on an upper floor allowing water to get inside the wall and into the drywall. Another possibility is that plumbing inside the wall could have sprung a leak, and also caused the drywall to become wet.

Because the wallcovering was solid vinyl, it trapped the moisture between the wall and the wallpaper, and that allowed mildew to grow between the two surfaces. I’m rather surprised that the mildew didn’t penetrate through the wallpaper and show on the surface. The drywall didn’t appear to be soggy or rotted or compromised.

Another reason why I don’t like solid vinyl wallpapers.

Keeping Wallpaper Lined Up Around a Window

August 28, 2018


Coming around a window can be tricky, because wallpaper likes to twist out of shape, windows can be off-plumb and / or not square, and other reasons, so it’s possible that the pattern can match above but not under the window, or the edges above and below the windows might not line up. Or everything can start going off-plumb.

In the first photo, you can (barely) see the vertical line of my laser level, which is helping me keep the left edges of the wallpaper strip lined up as the paper hangs over and then under the window. Next I hung the shorter strips above and under the window. I kept them “open” (did not trim the tops and bottoms), so I could “tweak” them if necessary.

In the second photo, I have positioned the next strip, again using my laser level to create a straight, plumb line on the left edge. This will ensure that subsequent strips will also hang plumb. I let this new strip hang a bit below the pattern match of the previous strip, so I could accommodate any rise or fall in the pattern; the section under the window was longer, so this is the area I wanted the best pattern match. By leaving the paper loose, I was able to match the pattern at the under the window, then pull the paper up to meet the strip over the window.

Sure enough, the pattern match was off a bit above the window. In addition, the strip on the top reached about 1/2″ further to the left than the strip under the window. This meant I was going to have a pattern mis-match, as well as an overlapped seam. But because I had not yet trimmed the top or bottom of that strip above the window, I was able to manipulate this strip to avoid these issues.

I took this strip and cut it vertically along a flower stem. The right half I aligned with the pattern match on the right. The left half was moved down to match the pattern on the full-length strip on the left, while also butting it up against this strip. This meant that I had a slight pattern mis-match in the middle of the cut strip, as well as an overlap.

All this was OK with me. The busy pattern easily disguised the slight pattern mis-match, as well as that 1/2″ overlap. In addition, it was way up high, over the window.

Standing back, you cannot notice any pattern mismatch or overlap. But what you do see is that the pattern runs perfectly across the top of the wall, and the subsequent strips are all and plumb and nicely butted together.

Over-Zealous Installer Scored into the Wall

August 16, 2017

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Windows without trim molding like these have surfaces inside the opening that need to be covered with wallpaper. They are always a little tricky, because you need to paper both the top and the sides, but the strip of wallpaper will fold over to cover only one of these surfaces. So you need to come up with paper to cover the other surface.

The previous installer chose to splice in the additional paper he needed, which is what we call a double cut, and it’s a fine way to get these windows papered. He lapped a new piece of paper over the existing piece and then cut through both layers, removed excess, and had a perfect splice.

The problem is that he pressed so hard that he cut not just through the two layers of paper, but down into the wall – quite deeply, in fact. Then, as the paper dries and gets taught, and years go by, and especially in this case where the exterior wall had a leak and water damaged the drywall all around the window, the layers of drywall split apart a bit, and that’s why you see these gaps and curled edges.

When I double cut, I put a strip of polystyrene plastic under the area to be cut, to prevent the razor blade from digging into the wall.

This type of damage is difficult to fix, because the integrity of the wall itself has been compromised. Even if you repair the surface, the underlying layers may come apart again and create another crack on the surface.

What I did was to use repair tape to bridge over the cut areas, and then joint compound to float over and smooth the area. This way, if the wall should move or try to open up again, hopefully the tape will prevent any gap from showing.

Geometric Wallpaper Patterns – Accommodating UnPlumb Walls and Windows, and UnLevel Ceilings and Floors

February 24, 2017
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When entering this 2-room bathroom suite, the first thing you see is the window on the far wall. Because the window is the focal point, I chose to center the wallpaper’s pattern on it. As you can see in the first two photos, the geometric pattern is perfectly balanced on either side of the window.

But since walls and windows and ceilings and floors and etc., are never perfectly plumb or level, you can plot the pattern to be nice and straight in one place, but then you can plan on it going crooked in other areas of the room.

So it becomes a game of priorities… Do I keep the pattern plumb/level, or do I keep the pattern match intact?

Look at the photo of the wallpaper against the ceiling line, and you will see the pattern dropping down as it moves to the left. That doesn’t look great – but it’s not really all that noticeable or offensive.

Now look at the photo of the corner. The pattern matches perfectly. To get the pattern to match, I had to hang the paper to the left of the corner off-plumb, and that’s what threw the pattern at the ceiling line off-level and caused it to drop down as it moved to the left (mentioned above).

Mis-matched wallpaper patterns are eye-jarring, even in corners. I think it’s better to have the design match in the corners, then to worry about how it is moving along the ceiling line, or how it’s meeting up against other walls in other corners.

This wallpaper is by Waverly, which is made by York, and is in the Sure Strip line, a product that I particularly like. It was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Bad Walls – Water Damage, Mildew

April 9, 2016
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This is what happens when a window leaks and allows water to run into the wall – for years. The Sheetrock has disintegrated, mildew is growing, the surface has become uneven, and there is the potential for stains from water and mildew and rust, plus the potential for delamination of surfaces, because nothing will stick to that powdery mildew.