The Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA) 2017 Craftsmanship Awards announcement marked the culmination of extraordinary efforts by so many in the WIA community. From those who submitted entries to the individuals who promoted association involvement and voted for their favorites, it was a collective feat — and we’re beyond grateful for such enthusiastic member participation.

Following are the winners in each category. Plus, a glimpse into the unique challenges each installer encountered with her or his winning entry.

Commercial First Place: Shelly Wilkins, C.P. — Mid-Atlantic Region


This two-story floor-to-ceiling mural project in a busy retail space was more than an installation — it was overnight logistical gymnastics for Shelly. She not only had limited access within a short time slot between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. but also had to factor in a 6-foot-wide staircase that floated 10 inches from the designated wall. This left no room for scaffolding, making the project even more challenging.

Because the staircase travels diagonally up the wall, the mural had to run fluidly above and below the staircase. This proved to be a tricky transition. With only 10 inches between the staircase and the wall, Shelly’s head couldn't fit to see what she was doing. Thus, she had to do double cuts behind the stairs blind with the help of another wallpaper installer. The installer just happened to be a fellow WIA member. As one person was cutting, another would call directions — left, right, up, down. And, to top it off, there was no spare material so there was no room for error.

Sandra Catlett from the South Region took second place in the commercial category for her DWC Auditorium renovation while Honorable Mention honors went to Steven Kaye, C.P., in our Central Region for his delicate fabric install in a commercial bathroom.

2nd Place - Commercial 2nd Place – Sandra Catlett – South Region – Fluff Up and Re-Do the DWC Auditorium Walls

Honorable Mention – Steven Kaye, C.P. – Central Region – Black Bathroom

Residential First Place: Stacy Bolson — Central Region

Two-Story Foyer with Spiral Staircase

This client presented Stacy with a dizzying task: Install Bradbury & Bradbury papers on the ceiling and walls as well as paintable expanded vinyl wallpaper on the dado of a two-story foyer with a spiral staircase. Her project also entailed painting all the woodwork, and her biggest feat was getting access to the ceiling and walls. Stacy began with the ceiling fill, starting in the center and working her way out. Next, he installed the outermost border and worked her way toward the center, filling in decorative elements as he went. Wall fill was next, followed by frieze and border. This entailed installing paintable wallpaper on the dado, painting with two coats of base color, then glazing with a negative ragging technique to give it a leathery appearance. It was painstakingly complex, but the result is a stunning showcase of classic Bradbury & Bradbury design.

Donna Montgomery Thom in our South Region took second place in the residential category for her install in an early 1900s double-landing staircase. Luis Magan from the Northeast Region received an Honorable Mention for installing a tricky but ultimately beautiful bamboo wallcovering along a soaring staircase.

Residential 2nd Place – Donna Montgomery Thom – South Region – Where There’s a Swirl There’s a Way

Residential Honorable Mention – Luis Magan – Northeast Region – Staircase to Bamboo

Small Spaces First Place: Heidi Wright-Mead, C.P. — West Region

Moving the Whale from Sea to Sky

Some would likely have laughed — or cried — upon hearing this client’s project request. "Install a 12-foot-wide and 9-foot-tall rectangular mural of Anthropologie's "Enchanted Forest" on a 10-foot-wide wall with a 13-foot high peaked ceiling." Yes, you read those dimensions correctly! And the project had to be done that day since the homeowners were moving in the following day. Heidi tackled the geometrical challenge by making use of every piece of the whimsical eight-panel mural. She flipped the triangles cut from the pitched ceiling to install on the sky.

Then, Heidi repurposed scraps from cutting around a door. Heidi even moved bunnies to the top of clouds, helping disguise the transition from the existing mural’s end to the new sky’s beginning. She flipped scraps with birds over to fit where needed, and the upside-down birds became bats. In areas where the new pattern didn’t make visual sense, Heidi hand-painted accents to turn the wall into a dreamlike scene. She even painted the switch plates to fit in with the mural! Heidi attributes her quick thinking and confidence with this project to having watched fellow WIA members’ creativity, skills, and problem-solving techniques during tricky installs.

Michael Baughman, C.P., from the West Region garnered second place for his painstaking work refurbishing a parlor in a 123-year-old home. Honorable Mention for Small Spaces went to Jeff Ragland and James Draine in our South Region for their faux-leather install on a massive theater door.

Small Spaces 2nd Place – Michael Baughman, C.P. – West Region – Refurbished Parlor

Small Spaces Honorable Mention – Jeff Ragland and James Draine – South Region – Theater Door

Specialty First Place: Heidi Wright-Mead, C.P. — West Region

Deconstructing the Coved Bay

Heidi Wright-Mead, winner in the Small Spaces category, also took top honors in the Specialty category. For this category, Heidi completed an intricate install in a Victorian home. Specifically, in a bedroom with a large rounded bay and coved ceiling. The homeowner, thinking papering the coved and rounded ceiling was not a feasible option, had plans to paint it instead. But Heidi convinced the client to let her try her hand at a design using wallpaper. She went to work, carefully deconstructing the paper’s pattern elements to allow the paper to fluidly bend and also curve with the ceiling. By deconstructing a wallpaper border into hundreds of one-inch squares and then piecing it back together like a puzzle inside a globe, she applied paper where the wall curves and transitions to the ceiling. The result is a stunningly beautiful install that proves wallcoverings aren’t just for flat spaces.

Second place in the Specialty category went to Sandra Catlett in our South Region who installed custom de Gournay panels in the Texas Christian University Chancellor’s home. An Honorable Mention went to Michael King in the South Region. His work consisted of an incredible ostrich hide install on a staircase’s winding handrail.

Specialty 2nd Place – Sandra Catlett– South Region – Custom de Gournay Panels for Chancellor’s Home

Specialty Honorable Mention – Michael King – South Region – Ostrich Hide Handrail

This year's awards celebrate not only excellence in installation craft but also forward progress in the art of wallcovering design. Many in our industry continually embrace new technologies, materials, as well as techniques that stretch far beyond the imaginations of those who founded our association 40 years ago. The future of wallcoverings is bright as is evidenced by this year’s award-winning installers’ spectacular work!

Visit the Wallcovering Installers Association website to learn how you can enter your work in the 2018 Craftsmanship Awards. Not yet a WIA member? Join our community of professional wallcovering installers today!