• Chicago Coach House Goes Global

    Custom Wallpaper Makes a Huge Impact

    all photos copyright Dustin Halleck

    This Chicago coach house rents for $300/night all summer on a timeshare website. It’s owner, a globally inspired, former retail shop owner has transformed every room into a funky creation full of color and texture. Her fabric collection from all over the world was the inspiration for this custom wallpaper. We wanted to make a strong impact in a small space by using 5 different patterns, all in a blue colorway. We had to create repeating patterns for each of these  steps, since the fabrics were just snippets of pattern, not print ready files.

    Once the images were set up for print, we used a type of vinyl for the application. Common uses for this material are prints that adhere to the sidewalk for advertising, or the floor of the bus or train. It’s meant to walk on, and we wanted something that would withstand the test of time, since it may get scuffed quite a bit from long-term use. Our manufacturers helped us select this material for its durability.

    We really love seeing these patterns make an impact in the space leading up to the guest bedrooms. It’s such a fun and welcoming environment th Bring the World Home.

    Custom wallpaper is not something we typically promote on our website, but it’s a big part of what we are capable of at Relativity Textiles. If you’ve always imagined a wallpaper but don’t know where to start, contact Erin at [email protected]




  • Destination: Libya

    One of the countries affected by the recent No Travel Ban is Libya. Of the African countries, Libya is the fourth largest, laying along the Mediterranean Sea to the North, and neighboring with Egypt to the east. Most western people have never been to Libya or ever dreamed to, since the Middle East has been a relatively volatile place since 2011 when the Arab Spring caused every day people to rally against political regimes who were failing to rule their countries peacefully and democratically. Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya from 1973 until his demise in 2011, that we all watched  in gruesome detail on television.

    As much as the unrest and upheaval we’ve witnessed in recent years may turn us off to Libya as a valuable cultural leader, we should not dismiss the value of its heritage as a place and it’s people as contributors to a world full of beauty.

    The city of Ghadames is a sight to behold. Inside it’s earthen buildings, the decorations around windows and doorways have been painted with a red lattice pattern on white washed walls. Truly a textile lover’s dream come true, these rooms inspired by the maker’s imagination and traditional motifs are incredible.

    {See the Pinterest Board}

    The Romans found value in Libya during the 5th century. The Italians colonized Libya in the early 1900’s and left behind some Italian linguistic traits and cuisine (in the west of Libya, pasta is a common dish to accompany meat). But, moreover, in a place where rainfall can happen less than once in a decade, Libyans learned to farm in patterns and thrive in a desert climate. The largest irrigation system in the world, called the “Great Man-Made River” consists of over 1,300 wells and 1,750 miles of aqueducts which supplies fresh water to most of the country! My obsession with images of pivot irrigation systems begins:


    From a textile design perspective, these manmade patterns are fascinating. Normally, nature has a wild way with the land, growing in patterns which are organic and free (called a “field”). But farming generally goes in opposition to naturally occurring patterns; having organized rows, or in this case being dictated by the way the water covers the ground (called a “stack”). I wanted to create a stack pattern using these hexagon shapes, and remembered the drawings of M.C. Escher in my sketchbook.


    A mathematician and also an artist, Escher was famous for his optical illusions. His hyperrealistic drawings and his agility with regards to creating tessellations. WHY AM I SUCH A NERD? Because my dad is a math teacher. I used to do tessellations for FUN as a child. This lead me to a career in textile design, though I didn’t know it until graduate school while I was TA’ing a print class and suddenly yelled “A tessellation!” when the professor was explaining designs that are complex and “puzzle piece” together.


    To get back to my point, Escher had never been to the Middle East, as far as I know. But, he did study Moorish architecture and Islamic tile patterns. Much of his work reflects a commitment to and understanding of geometry, which originated in the Middle East. With my BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Art you can now see where much of my love for pattern is closely tied to cultural traditions from the eastern regions of the world. It’s also why my heart is heavy when hearing that Muslims are not welcome in my country— That regions of the world are banned at all alarms me. I wonder how to combat the omission of the value and worth of these peoples as citizens of the greatest melting pot on Earth…… Can an artwork summon compassion and/or change? Can this design be a place holder? Once we use a wallpaper, inspired by Libya, and welcome it into our powder rooms and kitchens– could it symbolically be a white flag of surrender to the rest of the world?

    Perhaps it’s an artist’s dream that her work can be a micro-revolution. That the personal is the most political decision we make on a daily basis. But, if I were to sneak these ‘ideas’ into a beautifully designed space, and the homeowner could see it’s beauty then in turn she would be saying “I embrace the culture of a foreign place. I welcome it into my home.” If that is possible, then my work is done.


    This morning I was faced with one of life’s most important decisions…

    Whether to click on a Facebook daily quiz.

    What I love about social media is the ability to feel connected to people who you’ve lost connection with, whether physically, geographically or emotionally. It makes me feel like I’m not so alone. It makes me feel like I have support. And it’s a way to vent to the universe the things that I need answers to. Sometimes my virtual community comes through. As in the case of Kickstarter, they REALLY CAME THROUGH! So, I don’t want to discredit the power of this platform. But, I do get a little weary of getting on Facebook, because it can be a time suck and often, while reading news articles or opinions of my peers I can get really depressed.

    But, this morning, Sunday, while I told myself to write a blog post about something meaningful; while I am trying to stick to some social media calendar that I set up for myself; while I’m trying to prove that I really do know how to write, even though I somewhere along the line told myself ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not good at it’, I realized that this could be the content I am searching for. This. Stupid, pointless, Facebook quiz.

     Like a fortune cookie, this little exercise in self-examination gives a tidbit about my life without knowing me at all. As if five or six questions can get to the bottom of who I am and what my personality type is! But, we read our fortune cookie, we listen to the psychic, we take a daily quiz to feel surety about the future. To be validated. Or to have reassurance that we really are who we thought we were (or be surprised that we are NOT who we thought we were!)



    Here’s who I am:
    “You’re the explorer! According to Jung we can find this archetype in many myths and fairy tales. You’re a restless nomad, always full of wanderlust. You see life as one big adventure and you’re always planning your next move. This archetype thirsts for new experiences and new people. You’re independent, adaptable, ambitious and true to yourself. Your sense of adventure is your greatest strength, but you may risk wondering aimlessly and you may find it difficult to choose a direction. Channel your adventurous spirit into something productive!”
    And so, if I must summarize the way this Jungian survey completes me, I must say that I like being labeled the explorer. Though, I don’t consider myself a leader or expert or the first to have done anything. People have been designing wallpaper since the 16th century. Women have been running businesses to support their families since the dawn of commerce. I’m not Amelia Earhart or Marie Curie- I wish I was! That said, I do love the idea that my wandering spirit needs channeling and though “productivity” isn’t my goal, I do love meeting new people and experiencing new things. That is a part of this brand. It’s a part of what I love about getting to meet interior designers, showroom reps and other textile tribe members. I love when we support each other and share information. I love when another creative person promotes me (I joke that they are “spreading the wallpaper gospel!”) I love knowing more about the industry, since I’m the new girl at the party. But most of all I love sharing what I know with you. Taking you to a place you may never see firsthand.

    photo credit, Carolina Mariana Rodriguez c. 2017

    When I have more energy to complete the blog post I started last week about Sudan, I will share it with you. The happy and the sad. (okay, a society who has suffered as much as Sudan has a lot more sad than happy). The beautiful and the ugly. The power of an image. The strength of a people to persist. I hope you’ll come back and read it, once I finally close my eyes and hit “PUBLISH”.
  • Culture Maker: Karen Azarnia

    Karen Azarnia is a Chicago-based painter, curator and culture maker. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and ran the Riverside Art Center’s Freeark Gallery for several years. Her accolades include being the recipient of the Illinois Individual Artist Grant and the CAAP Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs + IL Arts Council. She is in my mind a total badass, though her demeanor and poise is that of a truly graceful creature. Karen is a supporter of the arts in many ways and a champion for other female artists through her work as a curator, juror and educator. She is the mom of one majorly cute little boy and lives in a cute bungalow in Forest Park, IL.

    Karen and I were in a show together about 3 years ago called Graft, at Comfort Station in Logan Square. We had both recently had babies; our sons are one month apart, and it was cosmically aligned that the show was about motherhood and female artist identity. I knew of her work for some time, since she graduated from the painting department the year I started the Post-Baccalaureate certificate program at SAIC. We have a lot of mutual friends and she started a successful exhibition record right after graduating with her MFA. It’s no wonder I follow her work. Her paintings are dreamy and soft, subtly illustrating the human condition with moments of dark and moments of light. They are moody and earnest and I can stare at them for days and always see something new. I included her work in the powder room install at the Lake Forest Showhouse, as you may remember, from visiting or seeing the posts on Instagram. I am now the lucky owner of the blue piece in this photo.

    Lake Forest Showhouse (photo by Dustin Halleck), “Heart On My Sleeve”, 2017, 24″ x 20″, Oil and acrylic on canvas.

    This is why I chose Karen as the first artist in a series of posts I’ll be doing called Culture Maker. The following interview is a series of questions I asked her because I really wanted to pick her brain and see what makes her tick.

    EMC: How did you get to here?

    KA: While I have many interests, I was born a maker. Early on I developed a keen sense of observation of the world around me and loved world-making, so it was a natural step to become an artist. After attending the Rhode Island School of Design for my undergraduate work, I worked as a graphic designer for an educational company. All the while still painting, I ultimately pursued an MFA at SAIC to hone my painting practice and teaching skills. I currently exhibit my work, curate exhibitions, and am a Lecturer in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

    EMC: What advice do you have for other female artists/makers?

    KA: Follow your passion. Find your voice and stay true to it. Especially in the creative field, there are many different paths to achieve your goal, and no two are the same. Find the one that’s right for you and work hard. Say “yes” as often as possible. Embrace the unexpected. Drown out the naysayers. Be generous and help fellow creatives. Above all, take time to celebrate milestones and enjoy the journey.

    EMC: What drives you/motivates you?

    A love for making and culture. A love for expression of our shared humanity. Small gestures of intimacy between people. Light fragments abstracted through hazy panes of glass. My family, husband, and son. Especially my son, as I want to provide a strong role model for him, and to teach him empathy. My amazing students, who continue to inspire. Poetry by Neruda.

    EMC: I love Pablo Neruda. His work has always resonated with me for embracing the insignificant. What do you love about his poetry?

    KA: His imagery is incredibly rich, through a lens of unconventional beauty. There’s an honesty to his work that speaks directly to the human condition – including love, longing and loss. I especially love his descriptions of landscape, and have often considered making a whole series of paintings based on that alone.

    EMC: What is your work about? How does that relate to you and who you are?

    KA: My work explores the dialog between memory and painterly gesture. Based on an archive of personal photos and videos, the paintings fluctuate between abstraction and representation, a reflection of the fluid nature of perception. It’s a way of processing memories and emotions I have related to my childhood, motherhood, the mental illness of a family member, and my relationships with family and friends.

    EMC: If you had to quit being an artist, what would you choose to do instead? (Imagine there was no limit to money or certifications or geographic restrictions).

    KA: First off, it would be impossible to quit. But if I had to, I would likely end up in scientific research and development or psychology. And I’d travel everywhere.

    EMC: You know I love to travel. Where would you love to travel?

    KA: My father is an Armenian immigrant. He came to this country in his youth with his family. I grew up visiting them almost every summer absorbing the history, foods, language, and music. I love the rugs! Great pride is taken in having beautiful woven textiles in the home. While I know some of the basics, I wish I was fluent in the language. I do consider myself fortunate to have experienced the best of both my Armenian and American heritage, which has given me a rich sense of identity and broad worldview. As I’ve never been, I’d love to visit Yerevan and the Armenian countryside.

    EMC: Okay, I want to ask the expert this question: What’s your favorite art gallery in Chicago?

    KA: It’s a tough question, there’s so many! I love the programs at 65Grand, Andrew Rafacz, and the Mission. Some of my favorite alternative spaces include Goldfinch, Adds Donna, and the Franklin.

    EMC: Who is a cultural producer that you wish more people knew about?

    KA: Lindsey Hook. She is an amazingly talented artist and consummate craftsman. I have huge respect for her painting, textile, and text-based work. In 2014, she mounted a stunning two-person exhibition at the Riverside Art Center with artist Altoon Sultan that has stayed with me. She also runs her own business for calligraphy and hand-made pens. Check her out at www.lindsey-hook.com

    EMC: You two have a show coming up, right? Can you share the details?

    KA: The show is called “A Life Lived” and it’s a two-person exhibition exploring the intersection of experience, memory, storytelling and mark-making. In today’s cultural climate we obsessively document public events and personal moments through photographs, video, and social media; presenting curated facades for ourselves and the people around us. Here, both of our work serves as a vehicle for deeper, more reflective interpretation and expression of personal life experiences.

    August 27 – October 7, 2017
    Reception: Sunday, August 27, 2 – 4pm
    Abryant Gallery, Mana Contemporary #607
    2233 Throop St. Chicago, IL 60608

    Facebook Event Page here


    EMC: What is one book that you think all artists/makers should read? Or, what is something you’d wished you’d learned early on in life (or in school) but only found out later?

    KA: I highly recommend Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists by Sharon Louden. It has honest narratives from working artists about what it means to commit to being a creative.

  • Entryway in Gold and Black

    Gold is the New Black.

    One of the defining color palettes of my first collection was black and gold. Our original packaging was made in black matte Neenah paper with a gold foil letterpressed logo. And the first wallpaper I ever made was Kilim Black. It makes sense then that people relate to me as a black and gold girl. Though, often I consider the palette too glam, I do always wear black and I love gold and brass colored accents in jewelry and in a home.


    Images courtesy of Carolina M. Rodriguez, Bryson Gill studios and Aimee Mazzenga.


    As some of you know I have a small crush on a very famous designer. I met Nate Berkus in Los Angeles in May of 2016 and it felt like my long standing goal had been achieved. But, I know for a fact that he doesn’t remember who I am as he had been bombarded by a dozen fangirls like myself after his panel discussion at Stark Carpet. But, having met him at Legends made him feel a little more human. We shook hands and he said “I hope you’re enjoying the conference.” Since we both started out in Chicago as a one-person design firm, I aspire to build an empire like he has. Someday. I do share a kinship in another way. His sense of style is simple but elegant, and often combines black and white with brass accents.


    Images courtesy Nate Berkus and Aimee Mazzenga


    It’s no surprise to know that when NB’s Creative Director reached out to me for a lunch date in Chicago, I jumped for joy! Her name is Tara Shade and she is a creative powerhouse. She helps the NB brand launch their line of products at Target as well as curate their selection of printed fabrics for JoAnn’s Fabrics. I’m pretty sure that if I could have any other job than the one I have now, I’d like to have Tara’s job.

    On our first girl date, I nervously showed her my first collection of wallpapers and spec sheets for the not-yet-produced Second Collection. I told her a bit about the impetus for designing these 6 new patterns and we talked about the Chicago design community. On our second date, she and I plotted and planned how to create a custom colorway for her entryway in her beautiful home in Lincoln Square. She offered me some assistance with branding and photoshoots in return for a quick installation by yours truly.

    GAAR – Black

    photos by Aimee Mazzenga


    And thus this lovely room came to life. Tara chose Ebony paper, a matte black clay coated paper for the ground, with metallic gold ink. The pattern is called Gaar and it is inspired by a tattoo process from Sudan. The motif appears at first like a bunch of tiny brush strokes, but there’s a pattern within a pattern. Islamic scalloping tile shapes pop out from the wall and call attention to their half-dropping goodness. This pattern has newly come to life and there will be many more colorways launching when the whole collection goes live. But we love how it turned out in Tara’s Entryway.


  • Parchment: A Chicago Colorway

    I have always been attracted to old blueprint images from architectural renderings. Mainly because my grandfather was an architect but also because when I was in graduate school at SAIC I once found a dumpster full of old blueprints that an architecture firm was throwing away. I took them home and made collages out of them. I loved the renderings and how much time it must have taken to draw each straight, perfect line and the planning that goes into a building well before the first brick is laid. I don’t work well with that level of exactitude, so I wasn’t cut out for architecture school.


    This colorway was inspired by the Windy City. Gray and Stone colored skyscrapers reach up to the sky. Deep blue lake reaches the sand. Neutral and muted and subtle and beautiful. It’s calm and cool almost to the point you feel cold. It has a historical feel to it, it’s pragmatic, it goes with anything. We took some guidance from Farrow & Ball‘s fan deck for this one and chose Hague Blue and Inchyra Blue to pair with our light tan paper.



    This colorway came about while designing our space in the Lake Forest Showhouse 2017. I am very lucky to have been selected to be a designer of the back hallway and stair, and to get a chance to collaborate with my good friend Claire from Centered by Design. We selected these colors based on this mood board. Our concept really stemmed from an antique rug we’d borrowed from the South Loop Loft, a resale showroom for high end vintage furniture, here in Chicago.


    The deep navy blues, paired with pops of coral and red, the neutral blue and the parchment colored wallpaper seemed timeless and whimsical. We chose a lot of antique brass fixtures to tell our story because we wanted some elements to look as if they belonged in this cottage-style home. Organic elements like sisal flooring, graciously donated by Stark Carpet give a homey feeling and softness to the space.

    Even House Beautiful magazine loves our color choices. They published an article recently detailing the top 15 colors trending for wall treatments and home decor and picked Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball, which was our color on the ceiling in the hallway! Read the article.

  • The Grass is Always Greener

    Designing with Grasscloth

    by Jackie Stelzer, Intern Summer 2016
    Classic Coastal Colonial Foyer

    Today, in our hyper-cyber “one click away” market, shopping for our homes has changed, as well as designing them.  We can “pin” and buy décor online, from mirrors to pillows, to ordering light fixtures and furniture, we are fortunate to live in an era where we can shop from our computers at home or as we sip a latte at our local café. But what about shopping for fabrics and wallpaper? It’s simply not the same. The reason; touch.

    This is especially important in the revival of wallpaper and wallcoverings in the world of interiors. For those who have fallen for the treasured texturized trend of designing with grasscloth as I have, this tactile experience is actually a treat. Sure, it means leaving your computer, spending a little more money, and physically engaging with different samples and colors, but it allows you to run your fingers along the weaved strands, examine the color variation, and appreciate its organic appeal.

    What is Grasscloth?

    Grasscloth is an organic and sustainable fiber, that varies from mixes of Raw Jute, burlap, hemp, Sisal, reed, arrowroot, boodle, reed, cork, java/triangle grass, (and even silk), woven together using sea grass and thin cotton strands, and is then backed with thin rice paper. Although the process of making Grasscloth is long and tedious, it bridges the gap between nature and the indoor confines of one’s home. In fact, Grasscloth invites nature into the home, which is why many designers pair Grasscloth with materials such as bamboo and stone. Grasscloth is known for its Asian influence and naturally fresh ambience. It commonly used as wallpaper, wall coverings, and room partitions by high end designers including Tom Felichia and Burnham Design.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.09.19 PM

    Courtesy of our friends at Twenty2 Wallcoverings, this image shows how to order grasscloth with the click of a button! Twenty2 has every color and texture under the sun.

    How to get Grasscloth:

    As I learned through my research both in person and online, the best way to choose your Grasscloth is by having an actual sample in your hand. Listen up cyber-creatives! It is possible to order these samples online. However, granted that Grasscloth is expensive and comes in various shades and hues, it sometimes helps to contact an interior designer and visit a showroom or fabric studio. I chose to do both. I began searching on Houzz.com to get a feel for who the top selling grasscloth manufacturers were, and from there I found “similar” or “related” products which lead me to other websites and manufacturers. My journey began with BN Wallcoverings, Schooner Prints, Inc., Brewster, Twenty2 and more. I then made my way over to Ann at Urban Source Chicago, a walk-in design studio with an extensive collection of new, chic, and exciting fabrics, patterns, wallcoverings, and wallpaper samples displayed on racks to facilitate the design process, and allow for mix and matching. This still is a retail showroom, with employees dedicated to fostering creativity and providing design solutions, which is why I went back multiple times to get more samples and information! Anne walked me through their entire collection, provided me with information about the difference between the products, suggested Grasscloth providers and their sample books. Thanks to Anne, I discovered Aztek, Inc., Zoffany, Symphony, and both Kravet and Ronald Redding and many more Grasscloth Manufacturers.

    Choosing a Color

    Another one of the main reasons why people need to have a Grasscloth Sample in their hands is because no two strands within the Grasscloth weave will ever be the same color. This fiber does come in vibrant colors (for those with an eclectic style), such as bright Yellows, Hot pinks, and other Metallic pallets shown to me at Urban Source. Many prefer a cool green, blue, navy, ultramarine, or Indigo to emulate that environmental aura. Another “trend” is to choose one of grasscloth’s multifarious neutral tones, including beige, brown, grey, cream, charcoal, silver, tan, etc. Why are interior designers currently enamored by these hues of Grasscloth? The main reason interior designers and homeowners gravitate towards these neutral tones is because they help bring out pattern and texture without taking away from the overall color or features of the room. Decoist.com refers to this as “understated texture” (Nothingham, “20 Living Rooms…*). Note: when searching through pallets, not all colors are named, and many have names quite more simple than “grey” or “blue.” On my “Grasscloth Journey” I found colors with Nuanced Titles, such as “Heron” (Twenty2), “Wisteria Blue” (Schooner Prints, Inc.), “Metal Black Dud Sisal” (Astek, Inc.), “Juan Grey” (Brewster).

    When you take home a sample of some of these Grasscloth colors, you will notice hits of other colors. Interesting enough, you might see a shimmer, or shine, or a reflection that has you ask yourself “What color is this again?” There are specifically Metallic collections sold (Astek, Inc.), making certain spaces appear more glamourous and stylish, especially with hints of silver or gold. The key to analyzing your samples and coming to a decision on which Grasscloth to use in designing a space is to use lighting (both natural and artificial) as much as you can. The lighting evokes the color and texture, and reawaken your senses. Often, I see people holding up their samples above their heads, squinting, and experiencing an “ah-ha” moment of clarity. It is also helpful to hang a grasscloth sample up on a wall for a few days, and try and imagine what the space would look like with that choice. This is definitely something I would recommend. The process is similar to picking out paint swatches; bring home paint chips and samples and compare. In fact, invite friends and family over, hang up each grasscloth sample on the wall within the space you are designing, and seek their opinions too! Yes, in design preference and aesthetic is relative to the viewer, but once they touch the grasscloth, they too can share in that sensory connection with the texture.

    How Grasscloth is Sold

    Unlike standard wallpaper, Grasscloth varies in measurement and its sheets are much wider. Grasscloth is sold in double rolls and commonly per 8-yard roll. These double rolls measure out to be 36 inches wide by 24 feet long. BE SURE TO CHECK IF YOU ARE BEING CHARGED FOR A SINGLE ROLL OR A DOUBLE ROLL.

    Designing a home is costly, and so is Grasscloth. According to the findings on my “grasscloth journey,” the range in pricing for designer grasscloth can start at fifty dollars and reach three to four-hundred dollars. I would honestly say, reasonably, that it depends on how much grasscloth you plan on purchasing, but expect to pay about 200-250 dollars per single roll. Now, this is a pricy number, but if you are someone that appreciates value and quality, this is a “worth it” expense.

    If you are wondering why Grasscloth is so expensive, take a look at the the long and hard working process of picking strands, of mixing sea grass and cotton, followed by the various raw materials mentioned above. The intensity of such a process, the labor of hand weaving delicate natural plant fibers, not to mention the decrease in natural resources is worth the cost. Many eco-friendly and green products on the market tend to cost more, as do internationally imported resources. For more information on this process, check out TotalWallcovering.com’s Absolute Beginners Guide to Grasscloth. http://totalwallcovering.com/blog/the-absolute-beginners-guide-to-grasscloth-wallpaper/ .

    Installing Grasscloth

    Things to remember when installing Grasscloth:

    1. Be Gentle! This is a precarious and expensive material- if you can, I highly recommend employing a professional installer.
    2. Plan out the placement of your grasscloth on the wall and remember to center the panels. I recommend choosing a focal wall.
    4. Clean and prime the walls, and be sure to use a special wallpaper primer or shellac.
    5. Grasscloth does not come with an adhesive backing. A Specialty wallpaper glue is most efficient.
    6. MANUALLY APPLY THE GLUE ONTO THE WALL, INSTEAD OF THE BACK OF THE GRASSCLOTH. Why? This is not like installing regular wallpaper, when you can wipe off access glue that got on the wallpaper during the process; with Grasscloth gluing, THE STAIN WILL REMAIN.
    7. Grasscloth expands when it is wet. This does not mean you should directly apply water to the grasscloth, rather, presoak the material.
    8. Seamless seams are easier and apply smoothly, so be sure Trim the edges of the grasscloth. All you need to do is use a razor and some type of straight edge, and cut an inch from the left side and the right side of each strip of Grasscloth.
    9. Avoid installing Grasscloth in places where there is a lot of potential “foot traffic” or activity- moving furniture around can increase the chance of damaging the grasscloth, as well as people rubbing up against it, or children “rough-housing.” Also avoid installing Grasscloth in bathrooms; not just because of humidity, sanitation and frequent stains, but also because the Grasscloth is too absorbent.
    10. Yes, Grasscloth can be cleaned, but not with the standard bathroom cleaner. Such products have way too much moisture. The best way to maintain the grasscloth and keep it clean is to lightly dust or vacuum the material.

    I know what you might be thinking: What about those people who don’t want the hassle? Those who don’t want to pay that much? Those who want an easier installation? And those who want a material less precarious?

    Yes, it exists! There are Thousands of Faux Grasscloth and Vinyl Grasscloth wallpaper and wallpaper coverings sold throughout the world. I briefly sought this option out during my “Grasscloth Journey.” These Vinyl options are usually sold by the roll or by the bolt at 27 inches wide, and sometimes somewhere between 52-54 inches wide. Houzz.com and Urban Source (Chicago) have an abundance of Vinyl Grasscloth. I found colorful and exciting options sold by Brewster, Schooner prints, Source One, as well as Seabrook Wallcoverings.

    If you are on a budget, or you want to “grasscloth” a high- traffic area, I would recommend vinyl grasscloth. But when you finally feel the walls and look for that genuine natural texture, the Vinyl or Faux just doesn’t compare to the real deal. The prize just never goes to the “stunt- double.”

    The Essence and Function of Grasscloth

    No one says it better than luxury wallpaper designer, Erin Chlaghmo: “What I like to tell people is to imagine the grasscloth as the supporting actress on the stage,” she explains. “Grasscloth is not the “star” or the main focus of this space you are designing- but it brings out all of the architectural features of the room and your unique objects and furniture. The walls will give a feeling to the room, not draw your attention.” I couldn’t agree more with Erin. The supporting actor holds everyone together, just like the wallcoverings, and sets the scene.

  • Tricks of the Trade


    Hi It’s Kelsey, intern at Relativity Textiles. Here at RT we are committed to the process. Our wallpaper is designed for easy printing, easy install and easy maintenance– We think about our Printers, Wallpaper Hangers and You every time we design a pattern!

    Though our wallpaper is made to be easily installed and can be done by just about anyone, but we do recommend you hire a professional.

    If you are in the Chicago area we recommend:

    Shawn Lawler

    If you are elsewhere we recommend:

    Wallcovering Installers Associations

    But if you want to learn from experience, below are a few tricks I gathered last week while installing a wallpaper for Claire from Centered by Design. Here’s what I learned about how to hang a perfect paper that I didn’t know before.



    DO’s & DON’T’s

    1) Use Wallpaper specific primer, sometimes called Prep Coat.
    2) If the background of the wallpaper is colored, a tinted primer can help disguise inevitable gaps.
    3) Never wear red nail polish, it’s the most noticeable and likely to scratch off the onto the paper!
    4) Remove all blemishes and scotch tape from the wall before installing. You will notice it later.
    5) When trimming panels: always cut an inch or two extra on top and bottom of each panel- in case the wall is not straight! But make sure you have enough on the roll. Measure the whole roll before you cut it!
    6) It’s more important for the wallpaper to match at eye level than anywhere else. So, start at the middle of the panel and match the seams together, then work your way up and down. Never begin at the top of the ladder/wall.

    Wallpaper Hanger Toolkit:



    Tape Measure

    Box Cutter

    Box of Sharp Razor Blades

    Step Ladder

    Wallcovering Prep Coat

    Wallpaper Glue

    Paint Roller

    Plastic Wallpaper Scraper

    Seam Roller (specialized tool to make seams less noticeable)

    Spray Bottle


    Garbage/Paper Towel


  • Style Me Pretty Living

    We are very excited to release this feature with Style Me Pretty Living blog. For any of you who don’t follow this blog, you have to get on there and see some really amazing projects from up and coming interior designers all across the country.




    As you may have read on my last email newsletter, Meg Piercy and I have been collaborating a lot lately. Meg is the founder and owner of MegMade, a local Chicago furniture company. Her claim to fame is that she started out in her garage, painting dressers she’d found in alleys and re-selling them on Craigslist. Five years later, she houses hundreds of antiques and vintage items that you can have painted any color under the sun by her team of highly trained craftsmen.




    Meg recently refinished one of my dressers from home and it turned out amazing. She asked me to come to her home and wallpaper two walls in her master bedroom. This feature catalogs the dreamy space now covered in our Peacock Gold wallpaper. This patterns has turned out to be our most popular design of all. We’re so excited to see it up in this space and know that it’s a part of Meg’s collection of amazing decor and objét. Her side tables in the photoshoot are of course her own work, and her pink velvet headboard was upholstered by a local Chicago craftswoman.

    Check out the full feature HERE


  • #OnlyinLCDQLA

    For those of you following Relativity Textiles on Instagram, you know that I spent an exciting and exhausting four days in Los Angeles at the beginning of the month. I am just now sitting down to write about my favorite moments from the LEGENDS 2016 conference in the La Cienega Design Quarter in West Hollywood.


    My showroom, Harbinger LA, was gracious enough to invite me and the other vendors out to California to speak about our brands and meet some of LA’s top designers and architects. I had a blast with the crew from Merida rugs, Coral & Tusk, Krane wallpaper, ALT for Living and the HLA showroom staff. Parties, lectures, galas, dinners, dancing! It was a whirlwind!

    20140510- Open House Harbinger -006-X2

    Joe Lucas with Analisse Taft from ALT for Living (My two showroom owners from both LA and NYC). Analisse also has her own line of textiles that are represented by Harbinger, which is why she and her showroom manager were also in town.

    Legends Gala-359-X2

    The amount of networking I did in three days was insane. I got to meet a few important people who have been formative for me as I’ve grown up in the design biz in only a few short months. First off, I met Justina Blakeney for the first time. She and I worked closely on producing the line of wallpapers with her artwork for Hygge & West and we had only ever “met” on Skype. So, it was pretty awesome to get to give her a hug in person.

    Keynote Laurel & Wolf --3-XL

    Of course, I also waited in several long lines to attend lectures with celebrity speakers from the design world, notably Nate Berkus. Any of you that know me know that I have some kind of strange fascination with Nate. Perhaps because our aesthetics seem to mirror one another’s or that he made his start in Chicago, IL. But, I admire his tenacity and demeanor and sense of style and I made it one of my 2016 goals to meet him. So, like an aspiring actress who waits in line for an autograph from Julia Roberts, I waited patiently to shake his hand after his talk. More and more people approached him and pushed their way to the front of the line. You’d think he was Adam Levine. So, I gave up and retreated.

    Legends Gala-129-XL

    I thought, “this is silly.” Every single person who went up to him handed him a postcard, a brochure or a catalog. As if he would ever read it!? So I left, feeling deflated. As I walked out of the front door of Stark carpet and got out my iPhone, guess who snuck out of the showroom? “Nate!” I said, as if we were old friends! He looked at me and I introduced myself, and before I knew it we were shaking hands. He almost waited for my sales pitch and I told him, “I just wanted to meet you…” he cordially told me that he hoped I was enjoying the week’s events and walked away. I was so shocked and star struck it took a while to wipe that grin off my face.

    TLC Forum Dragonette -15-X2

    Whether talking about “How to Avoid Nightmare Clients,” “Following Trends of Not?” or “Repurposing Vintage Furniture” I found all of the lectures to be very relevant to my field as a wallpaper designer. The vibes in LA were edgier and more straightforward. People were carefree, and just said what came to mind without worrying. They were blunt and funny. The design aesthetics were more adventurous and unafraid of color! The drinks were endless and the bartenders were really handsome. Everyone was high fashion and my midwestern self needed to step up her game!


    Big thanks to the team at Harbinger who made it possible. The Relativity Textiles wallpaper installation looked amazing and the final dinner, hosted by Moore & Giles was absolutely stunning. Cheers!! To next year (and to not being the new girl at the party again!)

    all images courtesy of JL Photographers