Wayne Breeden, one of our dedicated blog readers and an enthusiastic student of the decorative arts, was kind enough to share with us his thoughts on wallpaper.
The elite of society during Renaissance Europe were accustomed to hanging large tapestries on the walls of their homes; this was a tradition that could be traced back to the Middle Ages. Since tapestries were extremely expensive, only the very rich could afford them, and the less affluent when unable to buy tapestries because of the prohibitive cost or scarcity--prolonged wars had severely hampered international trade, turned to wallpaper. Introduced into England by Flemish craftsmen, the first papers were decorations for wood panels, in the shape of small squares with images first printed by wood blocks, and then hand-colored. Patronage of the decorative arts and the desire to make one’s mark (or castle) the envy of one’s peers made the trade in wallpaper panels quite lucrative for merchants and guilds. New advances in printing methods allowed printers to produce larger and more abundant amounts of ‘simple’ decorative paper panels which still grace many great houses in Europe.
The most common wall covering for residential use and usually the most economical is pre-pasted,vinyl-backed paper(s), commonly called ‘strippable,’ a term which can be misleading. Paper backed vinyls are significantly more expensive, trickier to hang, and generally available in wider untrimmed widths. Foil wallpaper has a paper backing, is produced in widths up to 36 inches, and is very difficult to handle and hang. Textile wallpapers include silks, linens, grass cloths, strings, rattan, and actual impressed leaves. The market also offers acoustical wall carpets which allows for sound reduction. Customized wallpapers are available at high prices and most often have minimum roll orders.
New and fresh uses of wallpaper just might give that tired room the facelift it so desperately needs. Dated and boring kitchen cabinets will come alive just by papering the doors with one of the wonderful grass-cloths that are readily available. How about papering the entire surface of a plain and mundane bedside chest or dining room credenza with one of the fabulous Fornasetti papers from Cole and Son (available through Lee Jofa), thereby creating an original one-of-a-kind piece? If you love it, go wild and paper the walls in the same pattern for an en-suite effect. A world of caution: first experiment with a ‘weekend’ project, and when confident of your abilities, pursue something a little more demanding. After many DIY attempts, I prefer the services of professional who is able to get even the most difficult tasks done to my utmost satisfaction. I’m a very good designer in many respects, yet wallpapering eludes my patience and talents. I’d much rather spend a little more than wince at my futile attempts at ‘wall-hanging.’ Besides, in a week or two the small strain on the pocketbook will have been forgotten, whilst the beauty beforehand remains.
Another fun and easy afternoon project, which can refresh a room with very little cost, is the purchase of a single roll of wallpaper, and then framing individual sections in 12 or 15 inch frames purchased at your local art-supply store. You will create an instant fun ‘masterpiece’ while covering lots of square footage. Many of my clients who are renters love this option particularly whenever wallpapering is frowned upon; by using their favorite pattern in such a manner, they are able to enjoy the beauty of the (wall)paper, which is easily removed when the lease expires.
Wallpaper is en vogue again and I am glad! Treat your favorite room, or piece of furniture to a ‘facelift’ by papering it, and I guarantee that what had been taken for granted will become a prized possession once again!
I really appreciated his thoughts on wallpaper, and it is so apparent that he loves wallpaper. As well as anything (and everything) from the Italian maestro -- Piero Fornasetti. Hope you enjoyed today's visual treat.
PS: Today's soundtrack is Havantepe's Suprasternal Notch.