Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper’

How I Hung Grasscloth and Lived to Tell About It

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

I’ve been wanting pearlized grasscloth wallpaper since I fell in love from York Wallcoverings. Wanting to remodel my own home office/library space in shades of gray, spa blue, cream, and chocolate, I sought out the perfect luminescent shade of grasscloth from a book of exotic wallcoverings I found at Lowes.  This particular grasscloth wallpaper is by Patton Wallcoverings, from their ‘Decorator Grasscloth’ collection.

This book is filled with so many fabulous colors from celedon to gray to cream and mocha brown.   My gray/blue pattern number is 488-309.

Here’s the step-by-step I followed for installing grasscloth wallpaper all by myself!


  1. Grasscloth wallpaper, enough to cover the desired walls.
  2. Wallpaper paste
  3. Smoothing tool
  4. Level
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Staple gun
  7. Sharp scissors
  8. Paint roller and tray
  9. Medium sized paintbrush
  10. Extreme tenacity!

Step One:  I measured the height of my wall and cut my first piece of grasscloth, allowing an extra inch on the top and bottom for later trimming.  With a level, I realized a certain truth – no wall is perfectly straight.  I lined up the first piece of paper in the corner, and used a level to make sure it hung straight.  With a staple gun, I secured the top to the wall, then trimmed my corner where the paper was uneven.  The only way for me to hang this very heavy, very awkward paper by myself was by use of a staple gun.  Otherwise, I would have needed a second pair of hands.  I found that the texture of the grasscloth allowed me to cheat by securing my grasscloth with small staples.  I later removed them without any holes or damage.

Step Two:  After stapling on the top, I climbed under my paper and up my ladder, and added paste with my roller to the wall.  I did NOT put the paste on the back of the paper first.  I applied it directly to the wall.  This way, I avoided the need for a big work surface, and kept my paste exactly where I wanted it.

Tip:  Don’t skimp on paste, especially with grasscloth.  The heavy paper needs a sloppy amount of paste – I was very generous in my application.

Step Three:  I used my smoothing tool to get rid of bubbles, and they creep up everywhere.  I had to be extremely patient in pushing them out, and often I had to pull back the paper entirely, and resmooth it.  This is where #10 on my supply list comes in handy.

Step Four – Aligning seams:  This was by far the trickiest part.  With the second piece of grasscloth, I followed steps 1 and 2, but then had to align my second piece perfectly next to the first piece.  Again, I used the staple gun, this time on the vertical, to secure the pieces together every 8 to 10 inches.  Repeat step three and smooth out all bubbles with smoothing tool.  Be sure to remove all of your staples when the adhesive is dry!

Tip:  Apply extra paste underneath the seam with a paintbrush before you align your neighboring strip.  Be careful not to get any paste on your grasscloth.

Step Five:  Carefully trim around your electrical and light switches.  Be sure to remove your switch plate covers before you wallpaper!

Tip:  Do all of your trimming, both horizontal and vertical, with very sharp scissors.  Do not use a razor blade – it will tear the grasscloth and give you a jagged edge.

Step Six:  Trim the top and bottom of your strip of grasscloth once your paste has set.

I’ve never hung wallpaper with paste before, so this project was very time consuming and very challenging for me.  It took me five hours the first day, and another five hours today.  And it’s going to take me awhile to recover before I consider doing any more grasscloth anytime soon.  Besides, three walls in a small office is plenty grasscloth for me!

But I am truly loving the subtle texture grasscloth wallpaper adds to a space:


One drawback:  the seams are more visible than I anticipated, but that’s just the nature of grasscloth.  But with a furnished room it’s less noticeable. Have you all ever wanted to install grasscloth in your home or office?




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The Staircase Reveal: Part Two

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I am overwhelmed at the positive response to yesterday’s post about the staircase remodel.  Thank you so much for your kind words. 

As you can recall from the ‘After’ picture, I not only redid the railing, but for additional drama, I added a wallpaper treatment to the very blank and boring wall. 

staircase after

Originally, I was going to play it traditional, and add plain white panels to the wall, with molding on top.  But I decided to kick it up a style notch, and add wallpaper panels instead.  It was more dramatic, and less expensive. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Staircase Reveal: Part One

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Whew!  After 30+ hours of intense labor, it is done.  Ladies and gentlemen, friends and fans, we are proud to announce the rebirth of our foyer.

Where to begin?  First, I must explain the problem.  The staircase was natural blonde oak.  Dated and dreadful.  NOT the first impression I ever wanted to give my guests.  What was a girl to do?  Replacing it with European style iron railing was the cost of an automobile.  Fixing it seemed too daunting.  Then I saw Rhoda at Southern Hospitality blog stained her entire oak staircase a lovely dark shade, from top to bottom, and it planted a big seed in my inquisitive brain.  If Rhoda could do it, surely I could too.

That same week I was watching one of my favorite classics ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.  If you can take your eyes off either of them, which is almost impossible since they’re both practically perfect physical specimens, you notice that they frequently descend the incredibly beautiful staircase of Big Daddy’s plantation home.  When I saw it’s espresso dark railing, white balusters and base, it was true love.  I had to have it.  So yet another seed was planted.  After Rhoda, Paul and Liz, I was completely inspired.  Off to the home improvement store I went, daring myself to do the impossible: transform the oak monstrosity into something sophisticated and stylish.

That said, let’s begin.  Here is the before and after:


Update: the wallpaper was later changed to full white picture frame wainscotting after we added wood steps a year later - full reveal here


How We Went From Ordinary Oak to an Espresso Finish:

Step One:  After all the prep work, taping off the balusters and laying down carpet protection, I stripped the existing varnish off the staircase with Klean-Strip.  It was nasty, smelly full-of-chemicals stuff.  I had to ask Mr. CG to keep the kids away for an entire day.  I wore a mask, and the fumes gave me a bad headache.  And I still had to sand afterwards.  (See this follow up post on why I now use Citrustrip instead).

Step Two:  Sand, sand, sand, then sand again.  I spent about 4 hours just sanding until my fingers cramped and refused another stroke.

Step Three:  I cleaned off the sanding residue with wet wipes, then stained the upper hand rail with Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut.  This is a wonderful product which I had used before to redo the highboy dresser in the entry.  It’s not Minwax’s fault that I wasn’t satisfied.  It’s just the nature of oak.  It’s such a grainy wood.  When the stain was applied to the oak, it gave me too much of a stripe-like effect.  Darker was much better, but the product only took me half way to the look I desired.

Step Four:  I did something unconventional – I glazed the wood with two coats of semi-opaque Burnt Umber acrylic craft paint.  Yes, you heard me right.  Craft paint.  I know purist wood refinishers are absolutely appalled, but I’m telling you, the semi-opaque craft paint filled in the gaps and gave me just the espresso finish I wanted.  See the difference after one coat?

Yessir.  These were the three products that gave me the look I desired.  Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut, Burnt Umber semi opaque craft paint, and Minwax Wipe On Poly.

They gave me this finish:

Hello gorgeous !

Using the glazing effect with the semi-opaque watered down craft paint (about 1 drop of water to 1 tsp of paint) helped to preserve the visible grain of the wood.

Step Five:  With the help of a dear friend, and professional painter, we primed the bottom of the stairs with oil based primer, then finished it with two coats of ‘Swiss Coffee’ oil based white paint for durability.  Thanks Mike !

Here’s another peek at the staircase up close before and after it was stained and glazed:


Step Six:  To the upper railing only, I applied one coat of Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane.  This took maybe 20 minutes total.  Pour a few drops on a sponge, wipe on, and you’re done.  It was dry overnight, apply two coats!




 I hope you’re all encouraged to take action, and transform your oak into something classic and wonderful.  Yes you can!

For the full story on how we ripped out the carpet and installed hardwood, look here.

Update March 2012: The staircase railing has held up all these years even with two kids and their friends up and down those stairs, it works!


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