BLACK GRASSCLOTH ACCENT WALL (and wallpaper primer talk)

Guess what I did this past week??? Master bedroom wallpaper! It was of the few things I was sure I wanted in our house BEFORE WE MOVED IN LIKE 5 YEARS AGO. Sometimes when you wait too long to actually implementing the design decisions you’ve made, you don’t like it as much as when you first decided on it. But not the case here. The grasscloth has added the richness and texture the room has been missing. I’m learning just how important texture is to a room that leans minimal. It is the dividing line behind cold institutional, which our former black and white room sometimes felt, and warm inviting. Add some surface irregularities, and even broad areas of monotone color immediately reads as substance instead of absence.

(I talk priming for wallpaper and DIY wallpaper supplies at the end of this, so skip down if you are here for that!)This wallpaper is actually from York’s Magnolia Home line. I never thought Joanna Gaines and her shiplap empire would come near me or my house, but this black sisal wallpaper was a steal. Sisal falls in the broad “grasscloth” wallpaper category (sisal is a type of grass), though the fibers are generally smaller than traditional chunky grasscloth resulting in a tighter weave.

This wallpaper looks charcoal and highly “paneled” in some of these blown-out photos, but the color in real life is a beautiful, true black and the was very consistent throughout rolls. The only other black natural fiber wallpapers I could find were in the hundreds of dollars per roll price. I think I bought this for around $75/roll last spring, when I was hoping to get to this project. Looks like the price has increased during that time, but it’s still substantially cheaper than anything else I could find.

The great price comes with some downsides. It was not as thick or as sturdy as my previous grasscloth hanging experience in the dining room, which I think was a Brewster wallcovering, making this more difficult to work with. Even worse, the black dye rubbed off all over my fingers from just handling the paper dry. Add wet glue to that and it was a mess! The walls, my hands, my clothes, everything it touched was stained. Ugh. Not surprisingly, I got a few areas of blotchy dye bleed along the edges of the paper. It’s so dark that you can’t really see in person and it’s hard to photograph, but you can kind of see what I mean below on the far right seam. If you are a perfectionist, grasscloth in general isn’t for you and definitely not this one! But in my case, the cost savings was worth these imperfections and hassles. Thanks Joanna for nothing and everything, whatever.

My previous post on hanging grasscloth gives a general overview of the process, but I want to mention a few things about primer and other supplies because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it lately. Wallpaper has been out of fashion for long enough that most salespeople in stores have no idea about hanging wallpaper yourself.

The supplies you need are:

  • your wallpaper
  • wallpaper paste if your wallpaper is not pre-pasted (grasscloths never are because pre-pasted wallpaper is soaked in a tub of water to activate the glue and you can’t soak natural fibers like that)…I use a universal wallpaper adhesive from Roman like this one
  • a smoothing tool
  • many SHARP razor blades (I buy a 100 pack in a dispenser because you literally need a fresh razor for every cut)
  • a tape measure
  • a straight edge, or better yet, a carpenter’s L-square
  • PROPERLY PRIMED WALLS (see below)!


Prepping your walls is half the work of hanging wallpaper. This include patching/filling all holes (tiny ones are OK to cover with grasscloth, other wallpapers are very unforgiving so patch it up) and priming the walls. You need to prime your wall for two reasons: 1. to give your wallpaper a strong surface to adhere to. Your wallpaper isn’t sticking to your wall, it’s sticking to the layer of whatever is directly below it. If that layer is latex paint, which most of our walls are covered in, the wallpaper paste will soften it, turning it into a mushy, weak layer that will likely fail once the weight of wallpaper is hanging on it. Which means your wallpaper might fall down. Whomp whomp. 2. Priming, supposedly – I’ve never had this luxury, makes wallpaper removal actually easy come the day you are ready for a change. If you’ve ever experienced the pain of removing old wallpaper via one million tiny tears (rips) and tears (wet stuff from your eyes), it is highly likely that the wall was not properly primed!

There are a few different one-step primer options for wallpaper. You need this primer to harden over and seal in every other layer below it so that none of them are reactivate by the paste you are about to slop on. You also ideally want it to match the color of your new wallpaper, minimizing any high contrast seam peek-a-boos. If your wallpaper is white/light, you will definitely want white primer underneath because colors and designs will show through! If your wallpaper is dark, you will likely want dark primer (or clear, see below) underneath to hide any peek-a-boo seams! If your wallpaper is red, you are gonna want that wall to be red, and so on.

One option is a regular “universal white pigmented” primer. This stuff is white, so it’s ideal for white/light wallpaper, or it can be tinted to match your wallpaper color. I believe most universal pigmented primers need 24 hours to dry before wallpapering. I’ve had great success with Zinsser’s Bullseye 123 in our dressing room.

The other option is what are referred to as “drywall repair clears”. These are a clear, hard primer meant to seal in messy drywall jobs. Because they are clear, they are an easy option when your wall is already painted the color of your new wallpaper…my situation! I went the DRC (drywall repair clears) route for the first time and used Zinsser Gardz on this wall. It is drippy, thin, and messy, but totally doable with a 3/8″ nap roller. It goes on a milky blue color but dries into a glossy, slightly toothy, clear. I made sure to cover nearby furniture and floors because it sprays off the roller a bit, but coverage was good and drying time quick, only 3 hours. I primed in the morning and was wallpapering by noon.

Photo below shows almost dry Gardz on the left, Gardz being applied in the middle, and unprimed latex paint on the right. The second photo show the primed wall ready for wallpaper:
Back to our room. I’m so into it. I need to re-hang our blinds and sconces, which I’ve been meaning to move outward anyway since upgrading to a king. But working up the courage to put holes in the new wallpaper will take a few days here. Hope your weekend is full of dream-fulfilling projects too :)

Thanks for reading friends! xoxo Jenny


Patio Shenanigans

Totally unintentionally, the patio has been all switched up! It all started with a hosing off and snowballed into a full rearrange where furniture was pulled from inside, impulse rugs were purchased, and plants planted. I have so many other things I should be working on, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. I caught a glimpse of a more functional space and it ran away with my brain.

I can be kind of intense when I’m in the middle of it all, so interruptions like making dinner have been a real challenge this week. And last week, let’s be honest. Trader Joe’s frozen pesto pizza and take-out burritos have been in heavy rotation. And maybe even cereal one night, I don’t even know. I’m dropping balls left and right. EXCEPT MY PATIO. HOLDING THAT BALL REAL TIGHT.

You can see the before version in this post from last May, and the before before from the May before that (routine much?). For this round, I switched the dining table to the other side of our den slider, our main backyard door, and created a cozy seating area near our family room slider.

I also switched up the color scheme. Or emboldened it, if you will. It really all started when my darling daughter broke one of our front yard white acapulco chairs during a clumsy fall. Straight up amazing physical comedy…but why child?? So, I sacrificed one of our backyard white chairs to the front yard. A black acapulco chair was left without a spot after my daughter’s room’s recent rearrange, so I brought it out there. I’m not one for mismatched chair pairs and actually spent some time looking for a matched replacement, but when I fell in love with this black and white target rug while searching for a plain jute one, it seemed so right. I got the rug on sale for $40, and ran with a black/white/orange color scheme – that I thought might totally clash with the fun time wall, but it’s FINE! And the rug was the only thing I bought for this switch up. I actually cleared out a lot of stuff in the process…bonus! Part of settling into middle-age is continually messing with your plants. I replanted this small bed with sansevieria once I got rolling on this patio thing. We used to have a prolific umbrella plant that needed major trimming every few months and dropped crap all over. In support of my low maintenance plant mantra, I finally removed it (and relocated a neighboring dracaena that was beginning to block the gate). The sansevieria are a little dinky now, but will really pop once they grow.



B&W rug – Target | acapulco chairs – similar | spun fiberglass chair – vintage

coffee table – vintage | orange and iron table – Target (painted)

wall hanging – DIY | planters – vintage/Homegoods/Ikea

patio set – vintage | chair cushions – Amazon | bird house – similar

doormat – Target | orange screen door – info here


If you have backyard fever, there’s more here.

I have backyard water fever. Instead of bingeing Housewives last week, I spent hours researching backyard hot tubs, and then even more researching pools. Stock tanks, above grounds, spools, plunge pools, you name it. No resolution has yet been reached. Say a prayer for my husband… he has to live with this crazy brain.

Diamond Chair Cover Thoughts

I think I need to start a blog post category just called “Chairs and their Covers.” I have a problem. You may remember that I bought this dream vintage Bertoia diamond chair a few months ago but the pumpkin-orange original cushion cover was unexpectedly unsalvageable. It was immediately clear that this was a job beyond my sewing abilities/wants. I thought about having an upholsterer do it but I wasn’t at all excited about putting forth the effort of finding fabric on my own or getting on my upholsterer’s long list or paying the high price I was expecting. Are you catching the lazy vibe I’m throwing down? Clicking buttons on a computer sounded so much better so on the suggestion of some IG friends, I purchased a reproduction cover from an ebay seller. I’m here to share the details in case you are A.) in the same boat B.) lazy and C.) can’t afford a billion dollar replacement from Knoll!

You can find the seller right here. They manufacture other Bertoia cover replacements for those large diamonds, birds, and ottomans too! The cost for a regular diamond chair cover came in under $200 after shipping and, although it took months to arrive, for the price and convenience, I’m generally happy. The fabric and construction are good enough, though obviously the quality of the original and Knoll replacements I’m sure are on another level. The cushion ships folded in half, so that right there sets it apart from the completely molded foam originals which are shaped perfectly to that curve. A bit of manipulating is required to get this cover into place and the results is wrinkled areas on the back sides. Sad, as that back view is the best view! The fit is actually pretty decent from the front.My biggest worry was that the fabric would be cheap looking and in an off color. I picked a vivid dark orange from their fabric choices (Persimmon) and, while not as nubby or as thick as my adorable original, it has some texture and is better than expected. The color is surprisingly great! The foam itself is thinner, which I’m fine with, but it arrived with a few areas where the foam isn’t totally adhered to the fabric causing bubbling. And a few more bubbles popped up within a few days of fitting it to the chair. Not ideal, but you only see it in certain lights and it’s not a deal breaker for my lazy butt.The tether system is my biggest complaint, being rigged a bit differently and not hidden. On the originals, one piece of twine encircles the entire cover and clips inconspicuously under the seat. This cover has two tethers that need to clip at the sides, the angles of which are not at all forgiving when trying to hide the clips. The look is super clunky and the one thing I would change if I could!Some shots of the original for comparison. (Does anybody want it for a pattern/other reason? Foam is lumpy/deteriorating and there is slight smoke smell but if you still have a use for it, hit me up!)Overall, for the price and especially THE LACK OF WORK ON MY PART, I’m happy with the purchase!

I’m really just so thankful to have this chair.

I’m basically exactly this at minute 1:50…

But no really, ashtray/lamp/chair hits a little too close to home.