Saturday, May 30, 2015


I prefer to hang product that makes an impact, but working for designers and customers who think otherwise, I just keep my thoughts to myself. This was a good quality paper that you had to hold in oblique light to even see that there was anything there. It was the most difficult thing to see enough pattern on the seam to be able to match.

When it was up, it gave the impression of soft and subtle movement, like waves or grass swaying in the wind.

It was pure white and fragile, something the owner will find out soon enough when the next sub-trades come parading through his newly constructed house, or the grandkids rub up against the walls with their grubby hands and toys from the sand box. We papered a toilet room and this feature wall in the master bedroom, wrapping the big screen TV insert. Even though the match was so very subtle, there was 24" waste on every length we cut. We threw away so much paper. In certain light, the pattern was very discernible and we dared not try to fudge it. I hope they notice because that is a lot of work.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Little Bit of London

We were called back to this house, for a third time, in the Equestrian Estates in south Langley. This time it was a mural we were asked to hang. There are varying types and qualities of murals so I was about to do something I may or may not be proud of.

The bedroom to be muralled was on the upper floor past the mezzanine.

And there it was, laying on the floor with no packaging and only a brochure and simple instruction sheet written in German. After 'calling a friend', we got the instructions straightened out and were ready to map it all out. It was to be centered top to bottom, and left to right. But was in the south wall or the east wall? A quick call confirmed it was the south wall. These murals do not come down once they are up, except by way of total destruction.

It takes special care because plumb and level are absolutely critical. The slightest deviation accentuates as subsequent panels are hung, until, when you hang the last one, all your sins find you out and there is a disaster in the making.  We had a problem though. The height of the ceiling to baseboard was one inch higher than the mural was tall. Another quick call and the builder said if the photo did not reach the ceiling or base, he would frame it out. As it turned out, there was a total of one inch expansion from top to bottom, once the panel was glued, so the photo just barely, by a sliver, covered the entire wall, top to bottom.

The first 4 of the 8 panels (about 5' x 3' each) went along the bottom. These are the easy ones as the only concern is to hang them plumb and make sure the pattern matches on the seam. By the time we got to the far right of the wall, we were perfectly matched, but were just lightly off level. I knew we were in trouble, but just how much, I did not know.

The top panels are by far the more difficult. I was holding the rapidly drying panel (we had to roll the paste on the back side and let it sit for 7 minutes to relax and expand) at the top, by the ceiling, and Andrew had to line up the pattern on the bottom of the panel. Level and plumb, level and plumb, was my mantra. After the 4th and 5th panel, I was sweating bullets. So far so good, but there were signs of trouble.

Panel 7 was just barely working. The pattern on the left was good, but the pattern on the bottom was drifting upward, or was the drifting downward of the bottom row coming back to haunt me? Panel 8 separated the men from the boys. We put on extra glue, misted it with a spray bottle, and when it was really soft and pliable, we put it up and stretched it to the max.

It worked, but had there been one more panel, we would have had to tear it down and purchase and install a whole new mural, at our expense.

The finished product! Overall, it was success. The brickwork in the brownstone buildings hid our few flaws and only we know where they are.
The entry door to the room was built and painted like a British street telephone booth, a nice touch.
Our German instruction sheet. Not helpful.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Little Black and White

Apparently there are no paperhangers in Chilliwack. We have been the exclusive hangers for Chilliwack Decorating Center for some time now. They keep sending work our way and I enjoy the commute, so we keep going.

This was small and fast job. The paper was wonderful to work with and the wall was straightforward. There were crown mouldings going against the ceiling, baseboards along the floor, and a casing around the arch. I really did not even get out my knife except to trim out the corners.

The black and white vines with the silver stems looked stunning in the newly renovated and freshly painted grey dining room.

We were done in about 1 1/2 hours. I have a minimum charge and today it kicked in.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Birds of a Feather

Here we are once more on Eagle Mountain, decorating a wall in a Master Bedroom. The customer was kind enough to move all the furniture away from the wall and we had more than enough room. Here you see me rolling adhesive on the wall as once again we are hanging a non-woven fabric backed wallpaper. This type of material is fairly new on the market and most manufacturers are going this route. I love hanging these non-wovens! 

It takes a bit of measuring and planning to get the eyes of the feathers to line up balanced on the wall, but once we started, it went extremely quickly. 

I enjoy standing back at the end of a job and taking in the impact of a designer look in a once plain room. And once again, the customer was thrilled. I have a happy job, not like the plumber who comes in when there is a flood, or an appliance repair man when the fridge breaks down. Folks anticipate and look forward to me coming. It is a happy time for both of us.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Geometrics in the Dining Room

Here we are back on Eagle Mountain hanging a big geometric in a dining room. There was one thing I was nervous about as soon as I saw the wall to be treated. It has two outside corners which are deadly when they are not absolutely plumb. Imagine an exaggerated curve on the corner and then wrapping the paper around the corner. Starting with a plumb line on one wall and wrapping the paper around the corner, and smoothing it out, it would have a bend or curve in it. Two problems arise when this happens. A wrinkle forms, and if it doesn't, and you can get the paper smooth without a wrinkle, you now have a curve in your plumb line and it is nigh unto impossible to bend the next piece to butt the joint. Here is where I depend on a house framer who used a level when framing, and then a drywaller who installed the wallboard without any distortion, on the stud. It is rare to find a plumb outside corner, but here we had one. And on both corners! 

Everything lined up perfectly, and does, if you start straight and the walls are straight. This is critical with geometrics, even curved ones. 

The last piece is always the best one. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nobody's Perfect

We got a call from a repeat customer on Eagle mountain asking us to hang this very expensive commercial grade 54" vinyl wall covering in their main bathroom. The piece you see in the above photo is one drop, going around the corner, very wide indeed.

This is a close-up of the textured pattern. When this type of product comes with a random match, like this one, the procedure is to overlap the seam and 'double-cut' through both sheets. Taking the cut off the top and then the bottom, one is left with a perfectly matched seem. The problem is, if the ribs do not line up perfectly, the seam is quite obvious as it catches diagonal light. We found this out after the first double cut seam. It was too late by then and we asked the customer to take a look and see what they thought. They were OK with it, but I was not. We discussed hanging art near the seam to block the light from crossing the seam. They assured us that they were good with it. I was not and felt uncomfortable leaving the job with a look that was less than perfect. 
We adjusted our methods on subsequent sheets and the result was much better. We were paid and as we left, I was feeling bad, but they were not.

This was the end result. You cannot appreciate the beauty of this product in a photo, but it was classy and looked very expensive, which it was. Fast forward to the next morning. I got a call at 7 am asking if I could come and see if somehow I could improve on the seam. I had been lying awake at night coming up with various solutions and I was relieved when he called because I knew somehow, I could do better.

We arrived a few hours later and here is me stripping the piece that involved the first 'double-cut' seam we made. Using our alternate method of seaming, we replace and re-cut the seam. Fortunately there was enough material to allow us to do it. The end result was a 90% improvement. They were out so have not seen it yet, or at least have not called about it. They said if they had to pay more, it would be OK, but this repair was on me because it was my bad.

Here I am, smoothing out the replacement piece, and very relieved that I was able and willing to repair an ugly situation. After 40 years of experience, I am still learning.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bonus Room

I had not heard the term 'bonus room' for a few years, but this what the customer called it and I knew what she meant. It is the room above the garage, that some people had the builder turn into a usable space instead of storage. She had tried to strip the old wallpaper but could not get the lining off the wall so decided to put new paper over the old. She primed the walls that had the old paper on them, to take away the stark contrast, because her new white paper was a wee bit transparent.

When I gave her a price, she did not get back to me for a few days as she thought it was a bit high. She was out of town for the day and when she got back I was gone.

I left the invoice on her kitchen counter and that night she called. She was thrilled. "Not only is my room totally transformed, but you charged me less than you said you would!"  I came in $200.00 less than my estimate. Why? The paper was fantastic to work with and there was no pattern match at all, so it went faster than I had anticipated. She was very happy and said she would recommend me to everyone she knew. The best advertising is always giving people unexpected value for their money. And to be quite honest, it is a lot of fun doing that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Quickie

There is a new townhome complex going up on Lynn Ave, and the interior designer called me in a panic. The builders decided that a wall in the powder room now needed wallpaper. The Grand opening of the show suite was in 4 days and she had neither wallpaper nor a wallpaper hanger. 24 hours later she had the paper (bought some 'in stock' product from Home Depot) and I was there hanging it.  She was some kind of grateful, but that is the way it sometimes works. It was a two hour job so I just made time for it. The catch was that I had to go around a pedestal sink, one of my least favourite things to do. The end result was great and besides getting paid, I was promised more work in the future because of getting them out of a bind. That is the way business works and I love it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Look Up, Look Way Up

I was called to look at a 'tricky' job. The homeowner had a price from another paperhanger and wanted to know what I would charge to do the one wall in the upper entry.

I told her it was no problem getting up there and I would do it for my minimum call-out fee which amounts to a two hour minimum charge. Her mouth was agape. Then she told me what the other contractor was going to charge her.

Yes, it was high, but I do not go where I do not feel comfortable. Our scaffolding was secure and not a bit shaky. It took us exactly 2 hours, like I predicted, including set-up and take down. The shocker was the other contractor was going to have a helper, like I do, but it would take them two days plus rented scaffolding. Around $1000.00. Needles to say the customer was smiling big when she wrote me a cheque for $150.00.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Running in His Footsteps

This is my middle grandson, Chad, who wins his fair share of ribbons at the local track and field events. He is a very good runner.

Running behind, by seven years, is my youngest grandson, Liam, who ran in a fund raiser at his elementary school this week. He is the focused one with the horizontal stripes on his top.  I sponsored him and hoped he would not run more than 10 laps around the track. He did not break the bank but was a very determined young man and I am sure he will some day run circles around his older brother.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who Let The Dogs Out?

First, a follow-up to the "Stripes" post of a few days ago found here. The powder room is complete and it is spectacular. We needed a very wide angle camera to do it justice because you cannot see the black vanity and the black French door. The owner told us that this chandelier was the most expensive in the house. Given the photo of the one in the dining room (shown below), one wonders just how valuable it was.

As you can see, we were back to this wonderful home once again. The owner liked the way we hung the stripes so entrusted us with her imported English 'dog wallpaper' for her back entry. It was one of the most difficult papers we have ever hung. In two words, it was fragile and unmanageable. The first piece being hung below, warned me what I was up against, and we had to use a combination of techniques that I have never had to use before.

In the phone conversation prior to us coming, it was revealed that there were only 4 double rolls to hang. We allowed a half day and arrived at noon. We only got about 2/3 done by 5 pm so had to come back the next day to finish. The end result was good, but I have my doubts as to how this paper will stand up to the high traffic area, and definitely have my doubts as to ease of removal at some future date.
I hope there are no issues with dog's heads and feet being cut off.