A paper decorative wall and ceiling treatment that is printed, embossed or backed to fabric. Its degree of pattern and print, tone and depth of colour is key in determining the style and feeling of a room.
Up until the 19thC, wallpaper design followed three main principles: that it should remain subordinate to the architectural style of the room, that the motifs should be abstract representations of the natural world, and that wallpaper should emphasize the flat quality of walls (see Biedermeir). Designers such as William Morris challenged these conventions by playing with foreground and background motifs, introducing a two-dimensional element to wall decoration. Other iconic wallpaper designers include Henry Van de Velde, Yayoi Kusama, Gino Severini, Sonia Delauney and Le Corbusier, Pugin and Zoffany, among many others. They not only gave us original wallpaper motifs, but innovative ways of combining these patterns with the other shapes and patterns in a room.
* Over the last two centuries wallpaper has come in a out of fashion, largely dependent on the quality of papers and / or paint available according to clever designers and technological advances.
* Some design styles depend on wallpaper, others don’t really respond, preferring the relative hardness of stone, brick, or paint on plaster.
* Wallpapers are printed or painted in any and every kind of colour, colour combination and style, encompassing any style and level of formality from a hectic tropical themes to an almost plain tone-on-tone – and everything in between, including flocked and raised designs and those that pretend, sometimes quite well to look like stone, wood, brick, wood paneling, or marbled finishes.
* Many of the specialist wallpaper printers carry just a few designs, others have vast archives of material that can be printed to order in either the original or any new combination of pigments.
* Hand painted wallpapers are the ultimate luxury, these may also be embroidered or beaded over.
* Standard wallpapers come ready to hang, whereas hand printed papers come in wider panels that need to be trimmed before hanging. This is a skill that until a few years ago the older generation of paper-hangers was willing and able to tackle, having been trained with just such paper. Today it remains the province of the specialist paper-hanger, unknown to many decorators…
* The Standard European roll is 10 meters x 51 cms and American rolls are generally 5 metre denominations, available as single, double and triple rolls.
Fabric backed wallpaper
Any fabric can be paper backed so that the walls gain all the qualities of textile/ a textile quality; whilst these are very lovely and not to be denigrated in the slightest, they do rather fall between two stools in that they’re neither as soft and sound deadening nor as luxurious as battened walling, though much moreso than mere paper.
Paper backed silks painted in Chinese designs have been commissioned after for the last two centuries, to create rooms of particular beauty, contemporary reference to the silkpanels brought back from China in the 18thC
Grasscloths are wallpaper with grasses or grass type materials on the front