Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Two random photos today. The above photo is of the view out the kitchen window of a home we painted last week. It was a different kind of a job because the client had just had her whole house painted two months ago. After the painters left, she found a lot of deficiencies and after two call-backs, they stopped answering her calls. She had us re-paint almost the whole house. When we first saw it, we did not see too much wrong, but once we got started, bright lights a blazing and walls cleared of art and furniture, we saw what her complaints were. It was just a sloppy job when it came to the fine details. Most people would overlook this sort of thing, but our customer was very discriminating and detail oriented. When we were all done she was very happy and, so far, she has not called us back. We try to work, always, to a very high standard and simply do not have call-backs, unless to do more work, unrelated to the first work we did.

The optics are not good on this photo, but it is the first three strips of paintable wallpaper we hung in a new house in Mission. The client will call us back when a colour is chosen, and then we will paint the patterned and textured paper. This kind of paper had been around for as long as I have been a paper hanger and it just never goes away. There are varying grades and prices, but it is all basically the same. This one was pre-pasted and was very soft and pulpy as it went up. It will not be fun stripping it some day.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Lakeside Work

Blair tried to describe this job to me over the phone so I did not really know until I arrived what I was up against. It was one of the original cabins at Cultus lake and they were doing some renovations so they could "get a few more years out of it" before tearing it down and building something fancy, like most of the neighbours were doing. It was an eating nook, panelled with 'good one side' plywood, primed, and ready for wallpaper.

Before we started, we just had to admire the view from the living room window. It was a fabulous morning and the colours were warm in the morning light.

View from the deck.

It was a bit of a challenge to keep the pattern going with all those panel trims getting in the way.

I could live here, but not necessarily in this little house. I am sure it will be fine when the updates are complete, but it will still have creaky floors and a low ceiling.

A few hours later and the nook was decorated with silvery gray branches. The re-finished table will look great in there.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Internet Design Services

In our trade, we get to work with some pretty fabulous designers and in some very wonderful homes and locations. Such was the case when after three weeks of emailing back and forth, we finally arranged an installation for Maria Killam on Promontory Heights in Chilliwack. We did some work for her in her studio.

The newer home was being renovated and this powder room was getting new fixtures, vanity, and wallpaper.

OOPS! Looks like I cut my hand off. My knives are very sharp.

These geometric designs call for plumb and level meticulousness, but unfortunately, the framing in the house was a bit off kilter and the pattern gets lost here and there as a result. But the over all look is stunning.
As for location, you cannot beat the view from the back deck of this home. To the right is Cultus lake in the background (the silver sliver).

To the center is the Chilliwack River Valley with the river visible to the left of center.

And to the left is the neighbours fabulous pool and sundeck. So much privacy here except for those neighbours. But wait a moment. Those neighbours are not neighbours, but the owner's holiday house which they built next door. It is a vacation cabin/guest house. When they want to get away from it all, they just walk next door. I have never run into a situation like this before. Apparently when the owner bought the lot, he wanted total privacy so he bought the one next door so nobody would ever build on it. Eventually he himself built on it. Quite the setup. I love these surprises when we get to a job site.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Early one Saturday we arrived at trailer court where a middle aged couple were fixing up a double wide mobile home for their newly married kids. It was all they could afford. While the husband/wife team were installing Ikea cabinets, we papered a wall in the dining room. The front garden was nice and when they were done, I am sure it was cozy and sufficient for the new couple.

A few hours later we were on Eagle Mountain hanging some expensive heavy vinyl in an executive home with a fantastic view.

Our next job was in a very exclusive area of 5 acre parcels in the Ft. Langley area. The homes were all gated and partially hidden from the lane. It was new construction and we had worked for this construction company a few times in the last year. Nathaniel is a great guy and runs a clean and organised building site.

And then it was a respite from paper hanging when we painted an entire townhouse in the gorgeous Brownstones in Abbotsford. When we were done after a week of work, Andrew stayed behind to paint the top rail, posts, and bannister a very deep brown. This is very picky and detailed work, something he enjoys and is very good at. These wonderful folks gave us each a very generous gift certificate for our favourite Greek Restaurant just up the street from their home. We get just enough variety to keep us in the game and keep us from falling asleep on the job.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Work For Mountain Goats

Even when I was much younger I did not like taking on a job like this. Curved stairwells are not only difficult to get at, but if the curve is not very even from top to bottom, left to right, the seams will quickly begin to wander and the whole job can get away from you.

I thought I could do it because the handrail was off, the paper was pre-pasted, and the vinyl wear layer on the paper was thin and stretchy, allowing for some lea way in case a seam began to stray.

One can only work off to the side and if I did not have such long arms, it would not work. Maneuvering the paper up, down, left, and right, to get the seam to match can only happen if there is enough 'slip' on the paper, and in this case there was.

The ceiling was about 18' off the main landing floor, but there was no time to look down so I was OK with it.

I must admit I was sweaty and shaking when it was done, But I liked the look of it and it did turn out to be a bit better than I thought. Since this curved stair well, I have turned down two others. This is the last one I will ever do.

Monday, May 23, 2016

All in a Day's Work

More wallpaper, this one in a basement guest bathroom up on Mountain Village.

For this one, the customer called and asked if I could come over and see what he was doing wrong. He had hung paper plenty of times but this one had him perplexed. No matter what he did he could not get the seams right. It was 27" wide non pasted vinyl and was a bear to hang. I used some tricks I had learned over the years and got it right. He was amazed and stared at the seams for a long time, as though expecting them to magically pop up. I had to admit it was a tough one and I totally understood why he only got two panels up and then quit. I almost did too.

And then there was the basement bar on Eagle Mountain. This was a new house and mighty large and fine. The bar was totally stocked but not a single bottle was open. The owner was of a culture that frowned on alcohol consumption. I think it was for the look as he put up the house for sale as soon as we were done. This was a 54" commercial vinyl application, and I am always amazed that I used to hang this kind of product a lot back in the 80's. It is just plain hard work.

When we were done, a horizontal ridge appeared under the paper at the 5' level on the wall. The moisture in the adhesive swelled some drywall tape that was a repair when the owner wanted the electrical outlets to be moved. There was not enough 'mud' put on the seam and the resulting ridge was ugly. The pot lights cast a downward light on the wall, accentuating the worsening flaw. I told him to wait until morning when things dried out and it might shrink back. If not, I suggested he buy a large piece of artwork and hang it just above the flaw so it would cast a shadow and hide the ridge. I never heard back from him so he must have been happy with one of the options.

And then there was the day my son recruited me to help him paint a spindle rail. His friend got him to repaint the entire house and Andrew did it all but this rail. It is most tedious and time consuming when you do it yourself. Two people can keep a wet edge on each spindle and it is literally more than twice as fast as doing it alone. When it was completed, I handed him the brush and headed home to resume my semi-retirement.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


We did a repaint on a bit of a monster house last month. There were a lot of deep earth tone colours to cover up. except for all the doors. We painted them a deep earth tone. (They had been white.) It looked really sharp with the off white trim and a very pale tan on the walls. I had never done that before.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Make Up Your MInd

We were called to a small job for a builder in Auguston. The job was to be one feature wall in the master bedroom. 

Two hours later, we cleaned up and were packing our tools to the truck when he comes to us with a bundle of wallpaper rolls and asks us if "this paper" will look good in the den. After a brief discussion, we laid out all the tools and set about covering another wall. It would have been nice if he would have told us sooner. But he was paying by the hour so I should not complain.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Little Girl's Rooms

There is something about decorating a little girl's room that is just a lot of fun. I suppose it is the excitement and joy not only for the youngster, but for the mom too. Maybe the little girl comes out, or maybe this is what she wanted when she was very young. The smiles and exclamations are a reward for me. This was a room in a new house that had only been lived in for 2 or 3 days.

Almost as an afterthought, we were asked to hang this big gold heart graphic. When I saw it was a 'peel and stick' I almost turned it down but I knew that they would have a much worse time of it than we would, so I consented. How does one hang a heart plumb and level? Then how does one stick it too the wall to fall within the carefully laid marks? It was another challenge, but then I tell folks that I like my work because it is always challenging.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Time to Blame

The stories, photos, and videos coming out of Ft. McMurray are dramatic. The initial reaction of shock and horror is now being replaced by two things.
The first, is an outpouring of prayers, thoughts, acts of kindness and offers of help. It is heartening to see the resilience of the citizens of that city and the rallying cries of Albertans and Canadians alike.
The second is blame. I am watching this story closely because I have a close tie to that city, and after reading several articles and blogs this morning, I am amazed at the reactions of a few people, and more amazed that their ideas are gaining traction.
There are those who are saying that this is Karma. Those wicked people who are extracting that wicked oil (read carbon) from the land are getting what they deserve.
There are those who are blaming the Notley gov't for the fire because it could have been extinguished early on had she not knocked the wind out of this year's fire fighting budget with a $15 Million budget cut.
There are some who blame our Prime Minister because he is not responding as quickly as the Mexican state of Jalisco who sent firefighters the very next day.
There those who are blaming Global Warming and Climate Change.
Some blame the municipal and provincial gov'ts because they should have been clearing under brush in a two mile perimeter of the city.
The one that took that cake was the National post article that blamed each and everyone of us because this fire is the direct result of too much carbon in the air and we have all contributed to that and encouraged the tar sands projects with our insatiable appetite for oil and oil products.
Why do we, as a society do this? Do we need answers to these mysteries of life so badly that we let logic and common sense fly out the window?
Here are the visible and knowable facts. Ft. McMurray is a large city built in the forest, and surrounded by forest. The forest is old and there has not been a fire there in generations. Hence, fuel.
The temperatures are high and humidity low, ideal conditions for a fire. Throw in strong gusting winds and you have potential for disaster. The weather and climate patterns change and always will. The heat there broke a 70 year old weather and herein lies the rub. What was happening 70 years ago that it was so hot in Ft. McMurray. It could not have been anthropogenic climate change as there was none back then.
We have all the conditions right for a fire and it happened. Forest fires are natural and a way of the forest renewing itself and pine trees reseeding themselves. The fire does not care if there are people and buildings in the way.
Are those who are rubbing their hands in glee that Karma is kicking in, realise that the carbon in the air from this fire far exceeds anything the oil industry can accomplish? Who receives Karma for this? A single forest fire or a volcano can extinguish decades worth of attempts to reduce carbon emissions. But the world still goes on.
Let's top blaming and just help these people out as they attempt to put their lives back together.