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Renovation & Design

Grasscloth a favourite

QUESTION: What's the deal with grasscloth? I love that the look is beige but not boring. I'm not into colour, more of a neutrals person. I'd like to wallpaper my boring white shoebox condo with it.

I'm hesitating to use it because I've been told that once it goes up, it never comes down. I also worry that you sometimes see the seams.

-- Diana D.

ANSWER: Grasscloth is definitely not boring. Even the most neutral grasscloth provides a warmth and depth that paint cannot, making it a great option for anyone who tires quickly of patterns such as damasks and florals.

Though we often think of the textured wall coverings of the 1960s and '70s, in their neutral shades of oatmeal, flax and beige, grasscloth has become a decorator favourite because it comes in so many bold colours, patterns and even metallics. Notice the vibrant orange and floral pattern from Thibaut for Kravet Canada.

Grasscloth definitely used to be a nightmare to remove. According to Kent Worth, assistant manager of Kravet Canada (kravetcanada.com), this is not the case anymore

"We're using wheat and cellulose pastes, not acrylic glue," which makes removing the paper relatively easy, says Worth.

What's not so easy is understanding grasscloth is a natural fibre and there will be variations in colour from roll to roll and even within the roll.

Plus, the seams are meant to be seen. The first time I used grasscloth, I panicked because the seams were so visible. Grasscloth is made of plant fibres such as seagrass, hemp and jute. Part of its appeal is the imperfect texture and seams give a room personality. Perfection in decorating reads as boring and flat.

If too much imperfection is going to drive you bananas, however, you can lessen the visibility of the seams in a solid grasscloth by "hanging one strip and then turn the second strip upside down," Worth says. Continue this way as you paper the room.

Oh yes, and when I say "you," I mean a professional paperhanger. Your walls will likely need to be primed (a professional can determine this).

As well, grasscloth is heavy and thick and not easy to cut like paper. It also doesn't come prepasted (like the kind you dip in the wallpaper trough). In fact, you'll want to avoid getting grasscloth wet, ever.

In other words, grasscloth is not ideal for bathrooms or kitchens. In a powder room with a backsplash, however, it's dynamite. The best way to clean grasscloth, if you have to, is with the vacuum on the low-suction setting.

From a decorating perspective, grasscloth works like an LBD that can be dressed up or down for a formal or casual look because it works with any type of furniture or art, giving a countrified room a breezy vibe or making the most boring shoebox feel cosy.

Happy decorating.

 

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

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