Everything You Need to Know About Vintage Wallpaper
When it comes to wallpaper long gone are the days of chintzy floral patterns and tired tartans. Rather, modern wallpaper trends are kicking it up a notch by offering up whimsical prints, textural finishes, and confident colors. In fact, whether you opt for secondhand wallpaper to back a console in an entry or use a new roll to curate drama in a powder room, contemporary and vintage wallpaper is bound to impress.
Intrigued, but not sure if vintage wallpaper is for you? Read on for a quick jaunt into wallpaper’s past, along with a rundown of our favorite new and vintage wallpaper trends.
The History of Vintage Wallpaper
The wallpaper we know and love today was first used by the Chinese in the form of decorative rice paper. In later centuries, Europeans began experimenting with wool and silk wall coverings to both insulate and decorate the home. During this period—roughly centered around the 16th Century—wallpaper was costly and time-consuming to produce, so only the wealthiest of tastemakers had access to it.
By the Renaissance, wallpaper had become easier to produce and was viewed as an affordable alternative to decorating with textiles. Many wallpapers therefore mimicked textiles, as illustrated by two surviving wallpaper designs from 16th Century England. Both samples feature a black-and-white block-printed pattern that was colored in by hand.
Throughout Western Europe, wallpaper continued to grow in popularity in the 18th and 19th Centuries, as new finishes like flocking and graphic prints emerged. During this era, machines were also developed for printing wallpaper, finally making it available to a wide audience.
Types of Vintage Wallpaper
Modern-day wallpaper trends are all about texture, unique colors and unexpected designs. Below, we’ve highlighted some of today’s most sought after wallpapers finishes.
Embossed: Embossed wallpapers feature textured designs that easily mask wall imperfections. Embossed wallpapers are easy to hang, clean, and can even be painted.
Fabric: Trendy textile-based fabric wallpapers add a nice amount of texture to any room. However, be warned that fabric wallpapers are more difficult to hang and clean.
Flocked: For a designer look and feel, flocked wallpaper is what you’re looking for. Flocked wallpaper features a vinyl or paper base with a velvet-like design and a raised pattern.
Foils: Perfect for clean, unflawed walls, foiled wallpaper brightens a room with its metallic paper and smooth finish. While it can be difficult to hang, it’s an easy wallpaper to clean.
Grasscloth: Earthy, organic, and a unique addition to contemporary style homes, grasscloth wallpaper is carefully woven from grass strands for a textured look and feel.
Vinyl: Great when used in bathrooms, vinyl wallpaper is the basis of most types of wallpapers. Vinyl wallpaper is easy to hang, clean, and remove.
Current Wallpaper Trends
In the past, wallpaper was used as the scene-setter rather than the plot. Today; however, wallpaper is being used to imbue spaces with bold personality and frequently dictates the direction of the entire room. While understated wallpaper options are still available, modern-day wallpaper is all about room-stealing. Read on for some of our favorite happening-nows.
Watery Florals: Among the trends currently raging today are bold, all-over floral print wallpapers featuring a watercolor aesthetic. Many of these florals showcase overblown proportions, making it clear that this isn’t your grandma’s chintz.
Bold Graphics: On the other end of the spectrum, Escher-inspired wallpapers featuring all-over geometric prints are also experiencing an uptick. Often glossy and unapologetically bold, these graphic wallpapers are were born ready to make a grand statement in small space, be it a powder room, nursery, or a kitchen annex.
Whimsical Wonders: If subtleties are more your jam, whimsical prints featuring playful themes like woodland animals, hot air balloons, and maritime themes are also having a moment. Often deeply colored and embossed with touches of metallic, we personally love the idea of using these papers in a nursery where they’ll inspire little ones for years to come.
Murals: Also kicking back on the more mellow side of things are mural-style wallpapers. Consisting of several pre-packaged rolls that are meant to be hung in a specific order, these wallpapers create a single wall-size image when complete. Often painterly in nature, these wallpapers are our secret to bedroom romance. Use a mural wallpaper behind a low platform bed to create a faux headboard that mimics million-dollar views.