Friday, November 10

Wallpaper 101: Coming Back to What we love. recapping talk by industry expert, Jeanette Chun of Fabricut

handmade wallpaper by growhouse
You've heard the saying, 
"Baby, You've Come A Long Way"?  
the wall covering industry owns that phrase 
with the significant changes that have been made to the materials, process and procedure over this century. 
fornasetti-- cole and sons
root cellar designs' tree spirit, Holiday House install January 2017

We attended Washington DC's Fall Market this month, and I had the opportunity to meet with Jeannette Chen of Fabricut while we were displaying our root cellar designs' fabric and wallpaper collection in the J.Lambeth Showroom.  We stayed to listen to Chen's talk and CEU discussion on the topic -- Designing With Wallpaper: maximizing Impact and Creativity. Today, we share some of what we gleaned, plus our continued fascination with wallpaper, the history and technical applications...
Hampton Designer Show house, Pierre Frey 
Why Wallpaper?
To begin with the history of wallpaper is long, and meanders from England and France to beyond.  Wallpaper made its debut in many high-society homes, namely the castles of Kings and Queens. It makes sense that we see wallpaper as decadent and luxurious, and many long for that aesthetic in their home.  Wallpaper can improve the architectural detailing, cozy up a space and give a sense of depth in a nook or where a space may need it. I particularly like to wallpaper small spaces, like powder rooms or guest bedrooms.  Closets and ceilings are another unexpected place where wallpaper can add a great amount of dimension. It is safe to say wallpaper is here to stay, and over the decades the design industry has had a fascination with adorning walls and ceilings with hand painted paper.
Cole & Son's Il Nicchie in charcoal/gold
New Techniques, and Why Digital?
In recent years, wallpaper is back with a vengeance, but due to the technological advances in paper and pasting and digital capability, it is easier to install, remove and maintain.  We all love those gorgeous hand painted papers, and the feel to the touch is rich and luxurious.  Yet, today the material options are mind boggling when choosing wallpaper.  Chen did a great job of breaking it all down for us in the talk, schooling us on "paper lingo" in a way that was not overwhelming.  The history of papering and the techniques used are fascinating.  From block printing we evolved to surface painting and here we are in the throes of digital printing, possibly the biggest win for wallpaper in the history of papering.  I have noted in recent years because of the technological advancement, and all these easier options for papering and removing, the industry is fascinated once again with the old-world technique of hand-screen block.  Have you ever noted that design and art works in a circular fashion?  There is almost always a resurgence of older, historic techniques and trends that come bring into fashion with a new bent, allowing them a fresh, new perspective.  The design world certainly likes to pay homage to and channel the artisans who work in their studios on hand made designs like block printing.  That resonates with us and we long for that in our home.   

With digital printing, we have grown leaps and bounds and the development over the past 15 years has allowed digital to get better and richer with more crispness and details.  We can now print on paper, non woven and vinyl substrates and although digital printing is not inexpensive, we avoid the high cost of engraving screens or rollers and labor involved up-front in the designs, and the biggest benefit of all is that we now can enhance the designs as well as have the ability to easily customize the patterns and colors in a way that was not possible before.  Designers love that and their clients of course do as well.
Christopher Maya, House Beautiful
Working With the Experts:
When applying wallpaper, there are so many wrong ways to install and match repeats, let's all agree up front it is best to stick with the professional installers and designers. Firstly, each wallpaper comes with their own varying instructions for installation -- some are trimmed on one side or pre-trimmed.  You will hear techniques such as Drop Match (pattern on the next strip must be shifted half the repeat heights of the pattern on the previous strip), Random Match (repeats do not need to be consistent when hanging paper due to a stripe or the design) and Straight Match (repeats of the pattern must be matched at the same height) when hanging the wallpaper rolls side by side on the walls and returning walls.  The Magic Talent of A Stellar Wallpaper Hanger---Every wallpaper installer's hardest part of the job is the KILL POINT.  This is the point where the final strip of wallpaper is placed.  No matter how well they lay it all out there is often an awkward section, and with any pattern design, there will almost always have a mis-matched design at this point.  The Kill Point is the paper hanger's art, the place where they finesse and arrange the design to finalize in an inconspicuous manner.

So, you can see where we are going here?  This may not be where to try  your hand as a Do-It-Yourself project, and it can go horribly wrong very easily and can be an expensive mistake.  Over the years on the many design jobs I have managed as an interior designer, I marvel at the work of the paper hangers.  They cut, trim and lay out the designs like master artists themselves, lining it all up on the floor like a puzzle piece or art installation.  I scratch my head whenever I hear someone say they hung their own wallpaper.  Today, of course there are some easier ways to deal with hanging paper due to the ease of the product (our root cellar designs' wallpaper is pre-pasted and easily removable), and a simpler pattern not requiring matching can make it possible to try to do it yourself.  However, matching those repeats just perfectly and lining up the edges-- I leave that to the masters of the trade!   On that note, today, we share some helpful sources gleaned from the event to help you swathe those walls in your home. Try both these sources to find talented paper hangers--  Wall covering Installers Association and Global Wall covering Association
New Favorite Material--Non woven Wallpaper: 
made of a technically improved fibrous material, these are easy to install and easy to remove.  no need to apply adhesive to the paper itself (which is a big job) but simply pasting the wall beforehand. They feel like paper and act like paper, yet they are easier to work with on all stages--installing, cleaning and removing.
Bonne Peche, La Maison Pierre Frey
I hope these points give you a renewed love for wallpaper.  Please tag me in your latest wallpaper project and I hope to have inspired you! 
Lilly Pulitzer for Lee Jofa
Matthew Williamson, Osborne & Little 
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara

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