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The world of wallpaper

From the Resene decorating blog

Today’s wallpaper industry is thriving and the range available is diverse. Just take a look through the sample books available at your Resene ColorShop to see the variety of designs available.

Dividing lockers with different colours of wallpaper

Using a range of different colourways of the same paper can work well. In this space Resene Wallpaper Collection SMIL69753709, SMIL69757001, SMIL69752222, SMIL69756414 are used together to create a striking backdrop which also provides a locker-room style division of space in an entrance hallway. The cute cactus pattern creates a fun family vibe that will encourage kids to keep their stuff in their area.

While Resene’s exhaustive range of paint colours gives you unending possibilities when decorating, you can add a textural, patterned element that is easily achieved with wallpaper. Wallpapers are now much easier to work with than they used to be and have become a popular option in virtually any room of the home as well as in offices and commercial settings. It’s not a case of either or; Resene wallpaper can be used as a special feature in certain areas and Resene paint choices can be complementary or echo colours used in the wallpaper.

First, consider if you are using a wallpaper to kickstart a scheme or whether you need it to fit in with existing elements? What feel are you going for? Do you want to make the room feel expansive, do you want to add warmth, cosiness, drama or whimsy?

Wallpapers with a dark cool-coloured background such as deep blue or charcoal can make a room feel larger, especially if they feature a small tonal pattern. Soft pastel colours will bring a peaceful aspect to a space, while warm colours and busy patterns can add character and vibrancy. Small patterns make a room look larger, while large patterns make a space feel smaller and more intimate. Stripes and vertical patterns make walls appear taller, whereas horizontal patterns make a wall appear longer. Layered patterns and trellis-like designs give flat walls more depth.

If you’re unsure about papering a whole wall, wallpaper is also good for smaller areas, like behind a glass splashback, on the front of a chest or drawers, at the back of shelves or on a chimney breast.

Wallpaper to the rescue

Wallpaper can help to overcome existing problems such as low light levels and less-than-perfect walls. The thickness of the paper and the visual effect of the pattern help cover the bad bits. In a hallway or dark room, choose a wallpaper that has a sheen or metallic aspect, so it will reflect light around the space. Steer away from heavily textured wallpapers in confined areas as these will appear darker and close in the space. Textured papers and Anaglyptas (paintable papers in your favourite Resene colour) are perfect, however, for covering imperfect walls. Heavily patterned wallpapers, or those with a layered design like a floral over a mottled background, will distract your eye from an uneven wall.

Elegant geometric wallpaper

The simplicity of the geometric design in Resene Wallpaper Collection HX8-053, along with the classic dark blue and gold colour scheme imparts a timeless elegance. As well as adding drama and elegance, the subtle vertical line work will draw the eye up and make a room seem taller and more spacious.

Keeping it classic

The work of William Mason, a Napier-born and London-trained textile designer, arguably New Zealand’s best, has been brought back to life by Resene and in fact, it’s where Resene’s love affair with wallpaper began. Mason lived in Wellington in the 1950s, teaching art and exhibiting paintings. He and his wife Maureen began producing hand-printed textiles, then wallpapers which were eagerly snapped up by homeowners renovating old villas and were also used in embassies worldwide. Resene bought Mason Prints in 1974, complete with the Marion Street building in Wellington which housed the wallpaper showroom and subsequently became the first Resene ColorShop. Resene continued to expand on the original designs and a new collection was launched in 2016, hand-screen-printed using Resene paint. View or order the Mason Handcrafted Wallpaper collection at your local Resene ColorShop or find out more online.

A history of wallpaper

Wallpaper originated in the 16th century when it was used to decorate the insides of cupboards and small rooms in merchant’s houses. Early papers featured stylised floral motifs and pictorial scenes copied from embroideries of the time. They were monochrome prints on small sheets of paper. In the mid-17th century these single sheets were joined together in long rolls which led to repeat patterns and the advent of block printing where the design was engraved onto wooden blocks which were then inked and pressed into the paper. In 1634 Jerome Lanier, a Huguenot refugee working in London, patented a method by which coloured wools could be applied to painted paper, and by the end of the 17th century flock wallpapers, as we know them, had appeared. They quickly became extremely fashionable, prized for their ability to imitate textiles at a time when lining walls with fabric was admired. An added benefit was that the turpentine used in the adhesive repelled moths. By the late 17th century the more elaborate designs used in Chinese wallpaper, made solely for export, had arrived in Europe. These papers were painted, not printed and featured large scale, non-repeating pictorial scenes.

Technical improvements in block printing by the mid-18th century allowed papers to be printed in multiple designs and colours. Each colour required a separate block and the paper was hung to dry in between the application of each colour. The block printing of a William Morris design from 1874, for example, would take up to four weeks to complete, using 30 different blocks and 15 colours. Floral patterns featuring roses and carnations were popular along with landscapes and the bright blues and pinks used hints to the bold sense of colour in 18th century interior design. An eminent artist, Morris favoured stylised representations of commonplace plants that might be seen in hedgerows and meadows. In 1839, the first wallpaper printing machine arrived allowing mass production and the use of wallpaper rose exponentially as availability rose and prices dropped. By the beginning of the 20th century, wallpaper was being used in all rooms of the house and was popular with people from all walks of life. The 1920s and 30s were boom years in England and floral designs were joined by patterns influenced by popular culture. A time of experimentation paved the way for zig-zags, cubism and Egyptian motifs.

By the 50s less fussy designs were favoured leading to the rise of geometric patterns soon replaced by the Op art and Pop art of the 60s. The wallpaper industry was in a growth period until the oil crisis of 1973 put a lot of manufacturers out of business. In the 80s, advances in the paint industry led to a significantly reduced use of wallpaper but the 2000s have seen a revival and now the two, paint and wallpaper, sit side by side in many homes. The return of screen printing and advances in digital printing has enabled both large scale production and boutique artistic endeavours to thrive.

A landscape mural wallpaper

Bring the outside in with mural wallpaper depicting a sweeping view or rural landscape – it’s a great way to increase your connection to nature if you don’t have any great views out of your windows. Botanicals, exotic and jungle themes are popular this year. Resene Wallpaper Collection HX8-049 brings a sense of peace and calm to this room.

Japanese style wallpaper

Woodblock prints from the Edo period in Japan introduced the world to Japanese culture, landscapes and lifestyle. The most iconic of these is Houkasai’s ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, created in 1931. This was used as inspiration for this stylised wallpaper. Resene Wallpaper Collection HAN100396237 is a serene yet gently dramatic pattern, also available in a dark blue version. It looks great in a living area but is also begging to be hung in a bathroom.

Top wallpaper tips:

If you can’t find just the right design to suit your tastes, you can create your own wallpaper with Resene WallPrint. Simply upload your photo and your wall size and custom wallpaper can be created for you.

April 09, 2022

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