Posts Tagged ‘windows’

Black Grasscloth in West U Dining Room

August 21, 2022
Window wall before. Due to the logistics of plotting and hanging grasscloth, this one wall took me six hours. More on that in a separate post.
Finished wall with drapes replaced. The drapes compliment the slight sheen of the grasscloth material. How elegant !
Below the windows.
Below the windows .
Rounded bull-nosed edges on this entry arch . The edges are always tricky to wallpaper .
Arch done.
East corner. I stripe the wall with dark paint to prevent the white wall primer from showing in case of tiny gaps at the seams .
The southwest corner had an odd angle in it, probably due to the powder room or stairs or maybe A/C ducts on the other side of the wall. The light hits that one angled wall differently.
This photo also nicely shows the fine texture of the grass material, and the subtle sheen .
Also note that the seams in grasscloth are always visible . So good installer will take care to plot so the panels are placed in the most pleasing manner – in this case, down the center of the wall to the left. This does eat up a little (or a lot) of extra paper – the rolled up scraps you see are leftovers from this process. They can’t be used anywhere else, so will be thrown away . Planning all this is another reason to have the installer figure how many rolls / bolts are needed. Purchasing based on square footage would result in an unbalanced panel layout .
Northwest corner.
Grasscloth often has shading or paneling ( color differences ) between strips. This particular grasscloth was amazingly homogeneous in color, and I was very pleased. In fact, over this entry to the home office was the only place where there was any noticeable color difference at all. (also visible in previous photo)
Unfortunately, I don’t know the brand . But I suspect that a lot of grasscloth and other such natural materials are made by the same manufacturer – just sold under different brand names .
The home is in the West University area of central Houston .

Grasscloth Engineering and Logistics – Technical Details Post

August 21, 2022
Grasscloth is a natural material that cannot be matched from strip to strip, so all the seams will be visible . In addition, there is usually a slight but noticeable color difference between strips / panels (called shading or paneling ) . So it’s important to plot the layout of the strips to give the most visually pleasing overall look. Usually this means balancing the width of strips so they are all equal , at least on the same wall . We call this engineering .
This wall presented particular challenges , due to the widths of the elements. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide . You can use your straightedge and a sharp razor blade and trim it down to any width you want.
The width of both the large wall spaces to the right and left of the bank of windows was 34.” The width of each window was about 35.” The width of the two spaces in between the windows was 7.”
So you’d think I could trim my panels on either side of the windows, and then over the windows, to about 34″-36″ – give or take a few inches (or fractions thereof).
But that would leave me with two 7″ wide strips between these 35″ panels. Although the look would be uniform and mirror-image from the center outward, moving from right to left you’d have: 35,” 35″, 7,” 35,” 7,” 35,” 35,” … those 7″ breaks were just not going to look right.
One option was to determine the width of the wall (189″) and make each strip an equal width. This worked out to six strips, each at 31.5″ Not good, because this would mean a seam down either far side. And since those sides were 34″ wide, that would mean a 31.5″ wide strip and a strip 2.5″ wide. Not attractive at all, and it would use up an extra strip of wallpaper.
This six strips @ 31.5″ wide scenario might also land with a seam smack in the middle of those 7″ wide interludes in between the windows. Not attractive at all.
So I decided to make the two outer strips 35″ wide. That left 119″ of wall space above the windows to be covered with wallpaper. Do some math and you get four panels of 29.75″ wide. This gave a balanced and uniform look to the area over the windows, and also prevented seams from landing between the windows.
Moving right to left, I cut and hung the full length outer strip first. Then I cut and hung the strip over the window on the right. Then I measured to find the centerpoint of the window in the middle. Turns out it was a bit less than 29.75″ away. So I trimmed that next over-window strip accordingly.
Once that was in place, I measured from that center point above the middle window out to where my left full-height panel would fall, 35″ out from the wall. Took the resulting measurement and divided by 2. Lo and behold, each of the next two panels over the window was going to be a bit wider than 30.” No problem. No one (but a paperhanger or maybe an engineer) is going to notice a 1/4″ or even a full 1″ difference in widths between this strips over the windows.
Another thing to point out … it’s important that I took measurements before cutting these strips for this second left-hand section. Because, since grasscloth comes at 36″ (and walls can be wonky), if my strips had been narrower (say, 28″), that last full-height panel on the left might have ended up needing to be 37″ wide – and that wouldn’t work because it only comes 36″ wide – plus you need at least 1/8″ to wrap around the corner.
Luckily I had the flexibility to be able to trim the panels over the windows to any width needed, to accommodate all this.
If you’ve followed all this so far, let me also toss in that we also need to figure how to get paper in between those windows. More on that below.
In this scenario, I’m moving from right to left.
Area beneath the windows needs to be treated in the same way, and preferably with widths that match what’s going on above the windows. In addition, it’s tricky because after you move across 12′ of wall space, the strips above and below the windows are going to twist and torque out of shape, so that last full-length panel on the far left might not butt up perfectly with the last strip under the windows.
The grasscloth is black , and my wallpaper primer is white . It’s common for teeny gaps to appear at the seams . In this case, it’s likely that white wall would peek out from those gaps. So I like to stripe under where the seams will fall with dark (diluted) paint . This takes measuring , plotting , and also a heat gun to get the paint to dry before the wallpaper hits it, to avoid staining. You can do a Search here to read more about this technique .
Now let’s talk about getting wallpaper in between those windows.
As you can see in the photo, if I hang a 30″ wide strip, a whole lot of paper is going to be cut off and thrown away. Also, a whole lot of sticky, pasted paper is going to bump against that window molding and maybe even the window glass. A lot to clean up! And unwieldy, to boot.
My solution was to stop the wallpaper just a little below the tops of the windows. Then I would patch in a 7″ wide strip in between the windows. This is trickier than it sounds, because, if it were a paper wallpaper, I could simply cut along a design motif and overlay the 7″ wide piece. But grasscloth is thick and overlaps don’t look good. Also grass has no design elements , and the reeds of grass don’t necessarily fall perfectly horizontal , and even if you cut everything perfectly true to square , if the window molding is a teeny bit off-plumb , then your edges won’t butt up perfectly.
So that’s a good reason for striping the black paint under where the butt join will occur.
Same thing for the sections under the windows. I measured and positioned the strips so that the top edge (which I had trimmed to be perfectly horizontal) fell between the narrowest part of the windowsill molding, for less visibility.
I admit, instead of butting the two pieces, here I did overlap the 7″ wide strip about 1/4″ onto the piece under the window, right at that narrow junction. It’s only about 3″ wide, and I figured no one is going to be examining it that closely, anyway. This saved me about a half an hour of measuring, trimming, testing, repeat, repeat.
This is my second window interlude, and by this time I had realized that it’s hard to trim stiff grasscloth around intricate moldings precisely . So I used paint to fill in the edges around the window molding, just in case there might be any gaps between the grasscloth and the molding, so you would see black instead of the white molding paint. I did this with a small sponge; if I had used an artist’s brush it would have been a bit neater and tighter to the conforms of the molding. But sometimes you’ve gotta relax and realize that no one’s going to be scrutinizing the insides of moldings below shin-level.
Area over windows finished, with drapes back in place.
Turns out this particular grasscloth is so uniform in color (quite unusual, I will add), that you can’t really see the panels , nor their equal widths , anyway. I’m still glad I took the time to do all this math and trimming.
Area below the windows, done. That last seam on the left bears some explanation, too. Moving across the top of the windows, I measured that that last strip – the full-length strip – would need to be exactly 35″ wide. It butted up nicely to the last strip above the windows.
But, due to twisting , shifting , expansion , unlevel and unplumb walls and ceilings , and other factors, there is a really good chance that that last 35″ wide strip would not butt up perfectly with the last 30″ wide strip under the window . So I planned to splice these last two strips together.
Yeah, the drapes are hanging there, I coulda overlapped the two strips about 1/2″ and the drapes would have covered it. With a thin wallpaper, I probably would have done this. But grasscloth is thick, and an overlap would be visible , and also the adhesive / paste can’t be trusted to adhere as well to grass as it would to paper .
So I plotted for a splice. Instead of trimming my last strip under the window to 30″ (read above), I trimmed it to 32″ wide. That way, when I hung the last full-length strip to the left, which was 35″ wide, it overlapped the piece under the window by a few inches. Then I did a double cut and spliced the two pieces. See below for details about that technique.
Grasscloth is 36″ wide, and this wall area is wider than that. So two strips were needed. This means you’re going to have a seam, and since grasscloth seams are always visible, it looks best to plot to have the seam fall down the center. It uses more wallpaper to do this, but it looks much better than having, for example, a 36″ wide strip next to an 8″ wide strip.
As mentioned above, in case you get thin gaps at the seams, a dark stripe of diluted craft paint under where the seam will fall, will prevent white wall from showing through.
Rounded / bull-nosed edges and corners have been popular in new construction for at least 10 years. I wish they’d go away. They’re very difficult to trim around, and hard for the paper to conform to and adhere to.
It’s very hard to trim around that rounded edge, because the paper is hanging over and blocking your view, because grasscloth is thick and stiff and your fingers can’t feel through it, and because the edges aren’t necessarily true and plumb so a laser level or other level won’t help you much.
I use this little gadget as a trim guide. It’s actually a small section of the same corner bead material that drywallers use when they assemble these walls. Cut to about 1″ long and notched in different places where you might trim along the edge of the wall.
It’s intended that you place your trimming knife in one of the notches and slide the gizmo along the edge and make your cut. I find that awkward and also inaccurate. So I prefer to use the notches as a guide and mark where I plan to trim with a pencil. Since this wallpaper is black, I used this marking pencil from my home sewing kit instead. Chalk might work, but I was afraid it might now wipe off completely.
The pink pencil line was barely visible, but it was enough for me to use a scissors to trim along the grasscloth. I like this better than using a razor blade as I can see better, and also less chance of scoring into the primer or wall. Which raises its own set of issues – do a search here to find previous posts.
Inside view of the trim guide.
Finished arch. Note the four panels of equal width above the arch. And two flanking full-height panels also the same widths.
I was lucky that there was no pattern to match, so I was able to butt my two flanking strips right up to the edge of the bull-nosed corner. No trimming needed! Then I measured the remaining width between these two strips (the area over the arch), divided by four, and cut four strips of equal widths.
I hung the two on the left, and then one on the far right. This left one strip still to be positioned to the right of center. So the pieces are going to meet over the arch, rather than the last strip falling in a corner.
Same as the last strip under the window (discussed above), it’s really difficult to get your last piece to fit in here perfectly. I’ve done it, but it takes a lot of measuring, trimming, testing, retrimming, and often starting all over again.
So I did a double-cut / splice.
A double cut involves cutting each strip an inch or so wider than it should be, and overlapping the two. Then you take a straight edge and sharp razor blade and cut through both layers. This handy tool is a wonderful non-slip guide for this process. It was invented by an installer colleague in the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ) and she has them fabricated in various lengths (along with other cool tools ) and sells them on-line. Contact me if you’re interested.
Anyway, it takes a lot of strength to cut through two layers of grasscloth, so somewhat difficult for lil’ ol’ me.
You also want to be sure to not cut / score into the wall, because the tension of drying wallpaper can tug at the wall and cause it to actually come apart, leaving an open seam that’s difficult to repair.
So you’ve got to put some padding under the wall where the cut will take place. I use special strips of polystyrene (hard but flexible plastic) to pad the wall. Also invented by a colleague in the WIA , who also sells other cool tools and supplies. Contact me if you’re interested.
This black grasscloth was printed on a white substrate. If the seams aren’t absolutely tight, there can be worries about the backing showing through to the front. So sometimes we’ll take a piece of chalk or pastel (never oil pastel or permanent markers because they bleed and stain ) and run it along the edge of the paper – from the back, and taking care to not get chalk on the surface.
I do this frequently with dark papers ( do a search here to see previous posts ) but opted not to do it with this grasscloth. It wasn’t necessary, and might have stained the porous reeds of the grass. It was beneficial, though, to have striped dark paint on the wall under the seams, as mentioned above.
Ugh. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this section of wall is 38″ wide. It’s not visually pleasing, nor is it easy from an installation point of view, to have a 36″ wide strip next to a 2″ wide strip. Or to use scraps and put a 25″ wide strip next to a 13″ wide strip.
So best to plan two strips of equal widths. Two strips, each 19″ wide, with the seam down the middle.
Actually, the strip on the left was 19″ wide, but I trimmed the strip on the right to 21″, because I like the wallpaper to extend 2″ over the top of the door molding. This provides a more stable surface in case of shifting foundation or walls, and less likelihood (knock on wood) of the seam opening up should the house / drywall experience shifting.
Note that design “rules” caution against seams down the middle of spaces. But it would have been more visually distracting (and used up more paper) to have made three strips of each 12.75″ wide. And would have looked even dumber to have used scraps left from other walls and put together two strips of disparate widths.
So the homeowner and I discussed during our initial consultation , and she was happy with the center seam. Once it was all finished, this particular grasscloth was so even in tone that you barely see the seams, anyway. Win-win!
This did use up additional paper, though, as noted in a previous photo above.

Shells / Fans in Master Bedroom Closet

June 21, 2022
Left side of entry wall primed and ready for wallpaper.
Starting the right side of the wall.
Instead of laying a 9.5′ length of wallpaper down along the door frame and wrestling it around the tops and bottoms of several fixed-in-place shelves, I used a razor blade and my straightedge to slice the strip horizontally into sections, measured carefully to coincide with the position of the shelf brackets.
This way I was working with much smaller and more manageable chunks of paper.
Entry wall finished.
Entry and side walls finished.
Opposite, window wall finished.
This closet, with 20 single rolls (10 double roll bolts) of wallpaper, several fixed shelves to wrangle paper around, support brackets to trim around, and two windows to wrap wallpaper inside, took me two 10-hour days to prime and paper.
Here’s a close-up, with a light switch for perspective, to show the lightly textured surface of the wallpaper.
BN European brand of wallpaper.
This is a non-woven material and could be hung via the paste the wall method or the paste the paper installation process.
Pasting the material made it much easier to work around all the obstacles and tight areas.
The paper was very soft and pliable. It is an embossed ( textured ) vinyl and will be more resistant to stains and dings than most traditional wallpapers.
This home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Alligator Accent Wall

April 29, 2022
Here’s an accent wall in a home office.
Textured wall has been smoothed, primed, and is ready for wallpaper.
Finished. Sorry – the bright light coming in the windows makes for a dark, crappy photo. But the wall looks really good!
This gives you an idea of the realistic pattern and texture.
A bright piece of artwork will hang on this wall between the windows.
Close up of texture.
Manufacturer is Super Fresco Easy from Australia. Pattern is Crocodile
This non-woven material is thin, strong, flexible, and a joy to work with. In addition, it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate.

A Second Centered Wall In the Same Room – Tricky Feat

December 2, 2021

Re my previous post, about centering the pattern on the fireplace wall … Once a wallpaper pattern has been positioned on the first wall, as subsequent strips are placed around the room, the pattern falls in its proper sequence. Meaning, you have no control over how the design will land on all the other walls.

In this room, I felt it was important for the design to be centered on the fireplace wall (see previous post). But the headboard wall was equally visually prominent, and it would sure look best if the scalloped design could be centered on this wall, too. But the way the wallpaper strips were following each other, the pattern would fall off-center when it hit this wall.

I thought I could make it look better. It took careful engineering, precise measurements, a laser level, some secret tricky techniques, and a whole lot of time (coupla hours). But I got the swoopy design centered behind the bed and between the windows and light fixtures, so the whole area looks perfectly balanced.

To achieve this, I had to ” shrink ” the design above and below the windows. (Do a Search here to see other posts explaining this process.) And I did end up with a pattern mis-match in the corner to the left (sorry, it’s not visible in this photo). But I figured that a mis-match in a corner 17″ from the floor, plus a 4″ high section over a window were a fair trade-off for that beautiful symmetrical headboard wall.

For the record, I worked it out so that the mis-match in the corner was only about 1.5″ off from the actual match. No one’s gonna notice! So sorry I forgot to photograph this.

I will say that the features of this room, as well as the way the pattern was printed on the wallpaper, plus the pattern itself, helped immensely to achieve this balanced outcome.

The design is called Versailles and is by Schumacher.

Bright Pink Girl Cave

July 28, 2021
Before
Done
Complicated by rounded edges, plus contrary qualities of the wallpaper, it took me four hours to get paper around these windows.
“Feather Palm” is the pattern name
Manufacturer is Milton & King

When the kids grow up and move out, Mom moves in! This is to be her “girl-cave” or sanctuary. The wallpaper went on just two walls of the room.

She will add pops of pink and other strong colors around the room, to make the look cohesive.

This is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall product. But, for the area around the windows, wrapping around those bull-nosed edges, I found it better to paste the paper. For the rest of the room, I used the paste-the-wall method.

The contemporary style home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Compensating Around A Window

June 29, 2021

Going around windows, especially wide windows, can be tricky. Wallpaper expands, it twists, the design can travel up or down from the ceiling line – and all this can go on independently of each other, with the sections over the windows moving out of whack at a different rate than the strips below the window.

The challenge then becomes, when the next full-length strip is hung, joining the strips over the window with those under the window … getting the pattern to line up and the strip to lie flat on the wall without torquing out of shape.

In this case, the pattern lined up pretty well. But strips under the window ended up being wider than those over the top. So there was a 1/2″ overlap, which would mess up the pattern match. This 1/2″ also caused the full-length strip to warp and develop a wrinkle.

This was an easy pattern and placement for dealing with such issues. All I had to do was cut along one of the palm tree stems, slide the strip up so the palm leaf pattern lined up, straighten out the full-length strip and work out the warp, and overlap that 1/2″.

All that sounds simple. But the truth is, I probably spent the better part of an hour getting it all to work out.

From Drab to Spa-Like

April 17, 2021
Before: Semi-gloss paint on bad texture job.
Virtually the same color, but texture and pattern add a warm and calm feel.
Before: Khaki paint
After: Serene, even Zen-like.
Close-up shows pattern that can be matched so seams are disguised, as well as string fibers that add texture and dimension.

Nearly a full 100 years old, this cottage in the Norhill neighborhood of the Houston Heights has seen many updates and treatments. The master bath suffered from various dubious renovation attempts, as well as the aftermath of acts of nature, such as shifting foundation, leaky windows, humidity. The whole room just had a sort of “last chance” look about it.

Most of the room’s ails could be solved by ripping everything out down to the studs and then starting anew. But on most budgets – that ain’t agonna happen!

So I skim-floated the walls and sanded smooth. Just having smooth walls free of the drab khaki paint color helped left the pervasive glum feeling.

The homeowner chose this faux grasscloth, which is a stringcloth product made by Walquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this because, being a man-made material, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you do not notice the seams like you do with a natural fiber material like real grasscloth. Also, the vertical strings on the wallpaper give texture and dimension, which is a look that many homeowners are craving these days.

The label insert tells you straight off that this material is not washable (they say you can gently vacuum it occasionally). Yet it is still more resistant to stains than true grasscloth.

This wallpaper was purchased from Ted at the Shade & Drape Shop on Kirby at Richmond. (They have another location on Voss near San Felipe.)

Updating & Brightening a West U Dining Room

December 4, 2020

The original wall treatment in this dining room was a nicely done deep red faux finish (see yesterday’s post). It was beautiful – but the fauxed trend has run its course, and the homeowner was ready for an updated look.

This lighthearted trellis design (La Giaconda) in gold on cream is checking off all the boxes!

This was a pleasing pattern to work with in this room, because it did not need to be matched absolutely-dutely perfectly. That meant that I could manipulate it where needed to maintain the ceiling line, and to keep things matched up while going around the SIX windows in the room.

The wallpaper manufacturer is Thibaut, and it was purchased from Southwestern Paint, Bissonnet just west of Kirby in Houston.

I normally love Thibaut wallpapers. But this one was oddly thick and stiff, and it had scraggly bits along the edges that I had to remove with a sanding block. The seams didn’t lie down well, and it took me a day and a half to figure out the best approach.

What tamed the beast was to paste the paper, book it, dip the ends in water, put all in a plastic trash bag for several minutes, and then, before hanging, roll a thin stripe of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall.

Note: The shading on the wall in the 4th picture is shadows from the chandelier.

Waste from One Day’s Job

July 7, 2020


People often don’t realize that you can’t use every square foot of paper that the label claims to include. Much paper is lost to ‘waste.’

Today, I hung a 14-single roll breakfast room with three large windows.

This is a picture of all the wallpaper that was cut off and thrown into the trash, in order to match the pattern, turn corners, and etc.

The large roll on the floor, and the one behind it, are both rolled tightly and are larger than they appear in the photo. LOTS of paper that ends up being unusable.

Always consult the paperhanger for accurate measurements, before ordering your paper.