Paper Houses

Wallpaper has been in and out of fashion since the 1700s, when paper was handpainted for the walls of grand English and French country houses. It became accessible to everyone after the Industrial Revolution, when companies like William Morris & Co started machine printing their wallcoverings at great speed. Between the 1700s and now, and between hand-painting and machine-painting, there are so many options it’s no wonder wallcoverings are back in style!




Our favorite wallcovering company at the moment is de Gournay. With papers that look like they were pulled straight from Versailles, it’s hard to believe de Gournay has only been around since 1984. Since then, they’ve helped cover the walls of Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co, and The Ritz. Due to the fact that de Gournay wallpapers are handpainted (and therefore totally customizable!), they’re definitely at the top of the wallpaper price range. But fear not! It’s 2016, and there are wallpapers available for every budget and need!



Soon after handpainted wallpaper became popular, flock wallpaper made its debut. True flock wallcoverings are made by gluing piles of cut velvet onto paper, as in the image above. These wallpapers are soft to the touch and stand out from the wall, but more affordable versions of flock paper are always being recreated. Most recently, tone-on-tone flock papers have been gracing the walls of homes – the pattern is often matte while the finish below is shiny or metallic.



We’re huge fans of grasscloth wallcoverings, and this braided option from Phillip Jeffries really added a new dimension to this contemporary San Francisco condo we recently completed. Like velvet flock paper, grasscloth brings a textural element to a space in the same way that a mirrored coffee table or fur throw blanket might. While more affordable than handpainted wallpaper, it enriches a room and, as you can see, really makes a big difference.



Finally, if you feel like wallpapering your whole entryway for the price of one handpainted wall, there is the option of machine-printed paper. While not customizable like the de Gournay, printed paper often comes in different color ways to suit the atmosphere of your space. Companies like Schumacher and Anthropologie make beautiful options which are usually always in stock, and are often self-adhesive (for all you DIYers out there!). Best of all, printed options can be vinyl coated, which means wallpaper is safe for kitchens and bathrooms!

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