Lessons Learned from Grasscloth Wallpaper

You all probably know by now that I share the good, the bad, and the real here on my blog, so today’s story is about my recent purchase and installation of grasscloth.

I’ve loved grasscloth wallpaper for a very long time.  It seems that every showhouse I go in lately has this richly textured material on a wall or in a room somewhere and it instantly takes me back to the 80’s when I first saw grasscloth being used in offices around Atlanta.  In fact, the office I was working in back then had been professionally decorated with a neutral grasscloth on the entryway walls and that was my surroundings every day.

I’ve always thought it to be quite sophisticated, textural, and beautiful, but it wasn’t until we moved in this house, that I thought I was really ready to install grasscloth.  I contacted one of my design friends to ask her about brands of grasscloth.  I had looked online at Philip Jeffries and all the beautiful grasscloths offered by this company, but they were pretty expensive. I knew that designer grasscloth was pretty pricey, but didn’t know how much this project would cost me.  I wasn’t about to try to hang it myself either.  I knew better than that.

So, my friend has an account with Thibaut and she said they were more reasonably priced, so she ordered some samples in blue for me to look at.  It was so fun getting them in and touching them in person.  I decided on a beautiful blue called Peacock by Thibaut (it’s the far left one).

My friend ordered them for me and I paid right at $300 for 2 double rolls of grasscloth, which comes out to about $15 per yard.  Now this was to go above the tall wainscot in the dining room and even that small amount of wall takes more than you think.  Each roll has 4 yards of paper, so 8 yards on a double roll. I was going to add some to one wall in living room too to tie those rooms together.  I got an estimate from a local wallpaper hanger for $300 to install all the wallpaper, so I was good to go.

The paper came in, the installer came to my house and in just a couple of hours I had wallpaper hung in the dining room.  I was in the other room as the installer moved around the dining room walls. At one point I went in and noticed that one sheet of paper was quite a bit lighter than the others around it, in fact it was gradient and looked light, medium, to dark.  The installer mentioned that color variation, but was already turning the corner from where the lighter paper was.  I probably should have stopped him right then and there and took at look at both rolls of paper, but somehow I spaced out, didn’t do that and let him continue. I loved the paper and knew that there were going to be shading differences in a natural product like this, but wasn’t expecting the big difference in coloring from sheet to sheet.

The worst spot was here.

Mark came home and immediately zoned in on the lighter sheets. They were obvious in one main focal point area of the dining room and we talked about it.  He definitely couldn’t live with it and the more I looked at it, I was sick about it.  I think I had tried to talk myself into being OK with it.

I sent my design friend a picture of the offending lighter panels and she said, yes grasscloth can be different tones and variations, but the installer should have noted that and made sure to match up color tones as he was going along. The problem was I didn’t have extra paper. It might have worked out that he could have taken pains to cut down the roll or cut into the 2nd roll and have it all match up better, but it was all such a surprise to me that it had turned out that way.  We were not happy about it, but it was already up and so I had to come up with a solution.

See the light panel on the left in the living room, it got replaced too?

I had even talked about painting the paper with paint to blend it all out and get one color throughout, but I really didn’t want to do that.  You destroy the color variation that’s in grasscloth when it’s painted, although I’ve seen beautiful painted grasscloth before too. It can look great, but I didn’t want to spend all that money on beautiful grasscloth to have to paint it over so soon.

My friend contact Thibaut and convinced them that they should send me another roll.  I was hoping against hope that we could then take down the lighter panels (there were 3 main ones that stood out) and find a good match and been with the new roll.  This went on for about 2 weeks as my friend waited to hear back from Thibaut and I texted my installer.  He didn’t feel like it was his fault and I really couldn’t blame him, although he should have stopped as soon as the light panel went up and we should have discussed it together.  He just chalked it up to the nature of grasscloth and that this is what happens with a natural product.

I got in the new roll of grasscloth (thank you Thibaut!!) and my installer charged me $100 to come back out and take down the 3 panels that were so glaring and we went through the roll together and matched up each piece so that it was a much better blend.  Luckily, the old panels peeled right off and he was able to put the new ones up in no time.

We are so much happier with it now and it was worth it to me to pay him extra to fix the situation.  Lesson learned on grasscloth!  The darker shades can have color variations and you need to be prepared for that.  This wall was the most crucial and the one you see looking in the dining room.

It looks SO much better now!  There are still some variations in color, but I can totally live with this now. And seams do show in grasscloth, so that’s something you have to be OK with too, that’s just part of grasscloth.

One thing I learned about grasscloth is that it’s supposed to be installed by flipping every other piece that goes up to supposedly keep this problem from happening.  I did ask my installer if he did that and he told me he did flip the paper every other sheet.  But we found out from the 2nd fix that it didn’t always match up with that method either.  He flipped the sheets and we looked at them both ways and sometimes both sheets going the same direction looked better than the flipped sheet did.

So, go figure!  I’m certainly not an expert on grasscloth and this project turned out to be way more expensive than I thought it would initially, but after all is said and done, I got my beautiful grasscloth up on the walls and we love it now!

It was a $700 project when all was said and done.  Would I do it all over again? I’m not sure for the price, but I do love the texture and elegance it brings to the dining room and can’t wait to finish all the details in there to really make the dining room shine.  I need new lamps in there as well as eventually some window treatments. I want a snazzy new fabric for the dining room and we want to eventually get Plantation shutters in here too.  It think  it’s going to all be beautiful when it’s all put together!

We are about to start working on the living room next (well, Mark’s part is coming next) and I’ve already painted the upper walls in here to blend with the wallpaper and he’s doing the board and batten treatment. Can’t wait to finally get this main floor all done and I’ll then start adding accessories and figuring out where everything will go. This isn’t a big room at all, but I think it will be pretty and cozy as the first room you see coming in  our front door. Stay tuned for more!

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- Rhoda

Comments

  1. Hi Rhoda, I’m back for a question. Will you be doing a wall treatment like you did in your former master bedroom? That is one of my all-time favorite projects. You made it look so easy.

    • HI, Sue, I probably won’t do a paint treatment, at least in the master. We have plans to do a real wood square board and batten treatment on the headboard wall and Mark is going to build it. We have lots more plans for adding more moldings to the house, so it will be more of that instead of paint treatments. This house just called for a more traditional feel and look, so that’s where we are going with it.

  2. I love the way it turned out. I know how frustrating it is to have a problem since I had a problem with a bath wall that ended up costing us twice what it should have but it had to be repaired!!! Once that LR is complete you’ll be jumping for joy!! lol

  3. I have had two different types of grasscloths in the pass and loved it. Thanks for telling us about your experience. I would not have thought that there would be that much difference between the rolls if all were of the same inventory number. Thanks for sharing and about the flipping of the paper. I know it was costly, but looks wonderful, and you would have not been happy if you had not fixed it. The room will be stunning when you add your magic to it.

  4. In my opinion , replacing the panels was the only option. I couldn t live with the “mismatch.”

  5. I’m really glad that I read this post. It’s convinced me not to go with grasscloth. I’m too OCD and can’t stand to see seams, and color variations. I’m really glad that you keep it real. More often than not, I really like your design decisions. I love that your husband is so involved!

  6. Looks great! I’m so happy you could fix it! Thanks for being real and sharing your process! Thinking out of the box and coming up with a solution is marvelous! I love your problem solving techniques. Sad that the hanger charged that much but you do what you have to do to make it work. Lessons learned for sure!

  7. Beautiful…I haven’t had wallpaper in my home in over 20 years. But back when grasscloth was “all the rage” in the 80s I had one accent wall in my living room. Just so you know, cats LOVE grass cloth…fair warning!

  8. Looks beautiful. Peacock blue is my favorite color. I had no idea that this was an issue with grass cloth. That would have driven me crazy as well. Good solution.

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