I don’t often use wallpaper in my projects, but occasionally, it can be a real conversation piece on a historic home. I grew up in the 80’s when wallpaper was plentiful and plenty ugly, so my general aversion to it isn’t surprising. Maybe if I had been around during the turn of the last century, I would appreciate it a bit more.
My ill will toward wallpaper was tested when I had a client tell me they were going to install it in the bathroom of the 1910’s home I was renovating for her and her husband. My immediate thought was “Oh please don’t mess up my hard work,” but when the wallpaper was up, I was speechless.
They had found a vintage print of wallpaper from the period of the house and it absolutely made the bathroom. It took the cold porcelain world that a bathroom can be and turned it into something warm and intriguing to look at.
I liked it so much I started looking for manufacturers of vintage wallpaper patterns that I could share with you here on the blog.
I know that wallpaper isn’t for everyone, but I promise that if you look at some of these vintage patterns, you will be as intrigued as I was and just might consider adding some to your old house.
Here are the best sources for vintage wallpaper I have found. If you have some other sources I didn’t mention, please leave a comment below and let us all know.
Adelphi doesn’t mess around with their vintage wallpaper. They have historic patterns from the 1750s up to the 1930s, and they use the same hand-printing methods and materials employed circa 1720-1860, after which, machine printing methods began to dominate the industry. For the serious restorationist who wants nothing but the finest reproduction wallpapers, this is the only place to go.
These folks have a decent selection of 1890s-1910s vintage wallpaper patterns, but for me, their true value is in their reproduction services. If you find small pieces of wallpaper remnants in your house, they can make new prints to replicate the pattern with colors based on historic documents prescribing what colors were available at the time the original wallpaper was printed. For reproducing wallpaper patterns if you have only small pieces, this should be your first stop.
With one of the larger collections of vintage wallpaper patterns that spans from the Victorian Age up until the Atomic Age, Bradbury & Bradbury is a great resource not just for wallpaper, but also for friezes and borders. The collection pretty extensive and their site is easy to navigate.
Rosie’s sells actual vintage wallpaper that has been sitting around since the beginning of the 20th century. The story of her store is pretty interesting in that she came into the stock by accident when she went into a store that had originally been owned by a wallpaper retailer. When a style fell from vogue, he boxed up his remaining stock and put it in the warehouse. Rosie happily took the old stock paper of his hands to make room and made a business out of it. This store has mostly 1930s-1970s wallpaper styles.
I’m not sure why wallpaper shops are owned by people named Rose or Rosie, but as it turns out one of the biggest stores for reproduction wallpaper is Secondhand Rose in New York City. Their online store is a little difficult to navigate. I wish you could search by decade, but you can search by style and hopefully find what you are looking for.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.