More Summer DIY

Recent mentions here and here of covering furniture in paper made me sit up and take note of this desk from designer David Whitcomb’s townhouse in The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration. Whitcomb used a small pattern to jazz up the simple Parsons-esque lines.

Which reminded me of Courtney’s reference to Nick Olsen’s Ikea coffee table photographed by Paul Costello for domino. Nick’s tips for such a project? “The pros use wallpaper paste but I slopped on rubber cement! I like it because you can reposition more easily and it’s not water-based so thin paper (like the marbleized stuff I used) doesn’t warp or wrinkle.”
More handy tips and design musings from Nick here and here. Because one blog is never enough.
The Whitcomb image by Daniel Eifert.
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26 thoughts on “More Summer DIY

  1. Suddenly, I am catapulted back to my teens gluing grosgrain on walls to mimic harlequin patterns and decoupag(ing) labels to cigar boxes…with some sort of remnant interior. I loved "Mitering" the corners and then finding some sort of brooch or hair pin to cleverly clasp the box.

  2. That looks utterly beautiful in these pics. Yet I am wondering whether it is as nice in reality… I wouldn't want my house to look like stage theater decor – isn't it the risk with paper covering furniture?…

  3. Nick's tip about the rubber cement is invaluable because the paper, at least what I bought, is so thin and wrinkle prone!

  4. Hansaxel, Paper-covered furniture looks beautiful! Trust me. No different than any other finish, just more interesting.

  5. Patricia – this makes me wish I had a girl. I could provide the supplies for the boys but they would end up with Star Wars images or WWII artillery.

  6. Hansaxel – ditto Aesthete. Robsjohn Gibbons did it with parchment and it turned out swell. Like wrapping a present I think you'd have to be very careful with edges and corners. Nick's Ikea table was 19.99 so if it had not turned out so well it would not have been much of a loss.

  7. Courtney – plus the smell is terrific. I haven't done this, but think thinner paper would be better. If you did have to cut the paper where it would show on the outside I fear you would have trouble with the edges.

    I'm sure we will see your paper put to good use.

  8. Geez Louise…are we on the same wavelength or something? Was just reading Nick's post about it yesterday and am trying to find something in my house to paper!!! Love the top image.

  9. I use repositionable Spray Mount. I think it is the best of both worlds. And yes, as with covering with fabric, you have to think about the seams, and the corners. If you plan on putting a clear coat on the paper, make sure it is compatible with the glue.
    But I love the look, and after your closet work this be very easy for you to do with style.

    As for boys and their toys I tried to go the no guns thing. Then my son gnawed one out of swiss cheese, cleverly using one of the available holes as part of the trigger. Too bay Ebay wasn't around then, I could have auctioned it off maybe to the person who bought the Virgin Mary grilled cheese.

  10. I've lined drawers this way a few times. I liked the surprise effect, but dealing with inside corners wasn't a pleasure. Maybe outside corners would be better. might have to give that a shot.

  11. If you like Whitcomb's city apartment, try and find pictures/images of the house he built in the Hudson Valley, probably started it in the late 1970s and added to over the next decades. Marvelous post-Modern (in the best and wackiest sense) rambling pile overlooking the Hudson River. I haven't seen any pictures but I'm sure they're out there. I attended a party at the house in the late 1990s when he was still alive, and practically fainted when I arrived as I had no idea what was in store. It was positively Ducal and over the top — including a huge round domed music room with two concert grand pianos in it, plus loads of velvet and leather covered french furniture and a fireplace from an English castle, plus floor to ceiling windows looking out over the river.

    As to covered furniture, I am a sucker for diminutive tables covered in paper with Chinese calligraphy on it. Or any small "cigarette" style table (or telephone table ala Duchess of Windsor) covered in parchment/leather/skin for that matter. Recently bought one to sit next to a comfortable bergere in our country living room, perfect for a small footed silver tray to hold an icy drink (no need for coasters, then…)

  12. I've done this in the past.(Corners and seams are a challenge) But be careful with mixing different glues and the chemical interactions. I don't think rubber cement would work with clear coats or clear lacquer (a must for coffee table?), and it probably will start degrading rather quickly. But the look is phenomenal–really makes everything pop.

  13. This will be a fun project, now to find the right inexpensive table to practice on, probably for the sun deck unless it turns out really great!

  14. Reggie – I am on the hunt now as it sounds wonderful. Surely someone photographed it somewhere.

    I would also like a peek at your country house – it sounds wonderful.

  15. PT&E – I may take it down as it sort of gives me the creeps. I just didn't want people to think I'm "hiding" because I don't post pictures of myself often.

  16. The mock-croc paper I brought back from the UK is perfect for a project like this. It's not as heavy as the stuff I bought from Carolyne Roehm's old on-line boutique, and doesn't feel as rubbery. Next time I go over, I am bringing back a case of the paper!

  17. Mrs B-

    Yes, paper-covered anything is very chic. It is at once frugal and unflashy–and delightfully light-hearted and individual. Gives a room (and a person) a lift.
    The key is to do it really well–so that it does not look like 'my school project'. It almost takes a pro to do it really superbly so that you would keep it forever. Like faux–leave it to an artist.

    BATS! I just saw, in a drugstore–by chance–some plug-in devices, white small and discreet- to scare away vermin and small creatures (mice etc). It emits ultra-sound, so people cannot hear it, and pets are not upset…but it is painful to mice etc…cheap and clearn, no?
    (For all your animal lovers, and Penny you know who you are–it does not reach nests etc or babies…just the creatures that come in to rooms and invade one's private territory…the bats in belfry and mice in nests are not disturbed. Seems like a good initial solution.)
    Good luck.

  18. Margaret Thatcher???? Um Anon…you're nuts!!! and a coward…easy to criticize behind disguise!!!
    Okay now back to my regularly sceduled comment…
    I use wallpaper paste. Yes it's a bit more restricitve but works like a charm. My old roomie & I bought a Thibault wallpaper book for $20.00 on ebay & then used the lovely swatches to do a huge coffee table top. It was a divine look since they had the thrown look not patchwork.
    By the Mrs B…back ages ago I mentioned the paper parisol for your light cover. They are here.
    Margaret Thatcher..yeah so not even close…

  19. Dear Mrs. Blandings, pay no attention to idle and thoughtless chatter from the Anons of this world. I think you look lovely and well-groomed and grown-up in your photograph, crowned by a glorious head of hair. Tres elegant!

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