Retro wallpaper from original 1960s and 1970s designs – new from Little Greene

cute vintage trailerAs much as America is into midcentury modern and retro interiors, I think that the U.K. is, even more so. Remember all those British cookers — 40″ ranges in all kinds of retro colors and styles?  Gorgeous. And now, I’ve spotted another range of vintage wallpaper designs — the Retrospectives Collection — recently introduced by the company Little Greene. Alas, we cannot get these wallpapers in the U.S. If I were a British interior designer doing rooms for fantastically chic clients, I would be all over these wallpapers.

I am a particular fan of the bold, colorful 1960s and 1970s-style graphics, like “Starflower” c. 1967, above. I also adore this bedroom for the lumpy, vintage bedspread … and look at those sheets with big blue roses on them. Sweet.

Here is the same paper in shades of gold. 

The wallpaper above is called “Lavaliers” and it comes from 1975 document wallpapers. In addition to this awesome 1970s orange wallpaper, there are six other colorways. As with the other designs, the current line of reproductions often include “new” colors, along with some faithful reproductions. Of Lavaliers, for example, Little Greene says:

Two colourways of this iconic 1970s paper are known to have existed in a French book from 1975. Both originals were neutral in colour and printed on an embossed paper, giving the effect of linen. Whilst several of the contemporary interpretations are bolder in colour, one of the reproductions in this collection is completely faithful to the original paper’s textured effect.

No question, it is also very useful to look at the details in these room shots. See how the wood paneling is installed horizontally? A great way to use an inexpensive material in an appealing way. The paper, “Box”, comes from 1962, and was meant to appeal to a very wide swath of buyers.

I waaaaant a Warren Platner wire-base coffee table and one of those fluffy white rugs, too. “Fern” (above) comes from 1960 and is available in 7 colorways.

Crocheted afghans! A pink and white canned ham trailer! Wallpaper strung as pennants — and circa 1971 “Reverie” wallpaper plastered onto the camper door, too. I’m pretty sure in my recollection that the “shabby chic” design wave that swept across America in the 1990s all derived from fantasy of old Britain to-the-manor-born but all-the-money’s-gone. As in: The chesterfield, even though its upholstery is in shreds, has rich bones, let’s go with the flow and work with it. The “upcycled” aesthetic in America today is an apple pretty close to that the same tree. Now, all this brite wallpaper needs is a nice antique color wash from Ralph Lauren, and it will fit right into the 70s house that, pretty much no matter what you try, will always show the aches and pains of a life well lived. Don’t try to hide it, go with the flow and work with it.

Also very interestingly, the 1971 “Reverie” design — showen on the door of the little trailer — itself is a throwback design. Little Greene says:

‘Reverie’ is a classic example of a late twentieth century wallpaper pattern that was itself inspired by the visual language of a previous generation. We can clearly identify elements of Henri Rousseau’s 1910 painting ‘The Dream’ in this design, yet, as a wallpaper, it was chanced upon in a 1970s book, sandwiched among some 120 other wallpaper designs.

Yes: We are always re-interpreting. Part of the “there is nothing new under the sun” — EXCEPT, I will theorize, when a technology breakthrough makes something truly new possible.


Oh, and LOVE that Little Greene put this with an avocado bathtub. Mitchell and Webb would surely hoot at this one.

Little Greene fesses up to “toning down” the 1973 “Hepworth” so it works with more interiors today. You know how I feel about “toning down” the 1960s and 1970s: Bah humbug.

I want to go live in London and design fabulous David Hicks-esque wallpapered houses using Little Greene wallpaper — the ones bursting with unapologetic color, that is.

Link: Little Greene Retrospectives Wallpapers

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  1. says

    I WANT that trailer. I could spend many happy hours in there tucked away reading. And it’s pink! I love these wallpapers, too. I’m not (gasp) a huge fan of wallpaper, but these make me want to wallpaper something, anything, particularly with the starflower print in gold. Gorgeous!

  2. Laura E. says

    You can almost always get British wallpaper from an Internet supplier. (This is how I got my William Morris paper–$40 a roll from the UK, $200 a roll in the US. Even with international shipping, ordering from the UK is much much cheaper.)

    This site carries Little Greene and ships to the US:

    I’m sure they could get the new line as well.

  3. Annie B. says

    Wonderful wall art. I want the circular chair in photo #4. That “Box” wallpaper makes even the radiator look like an intentional inclusion of sculpture.

  4. says

    Ugh … maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think a lot of 70s wallpaper ever has to come back into style. Some of these designs are tolerable … however, I still have visions of the dentist’s office I went to in the 70s that had foiled wallpaper with geometric shapes — a pattern that made me nearly cross-eyed when I looked at it. Some of the 70s design just needs to be forgotten. :-)

    • Laura E. says

      Some of it I quite like, some of it is a bit too Craggy Island Parochial House. Just like I adore pastel appliances, but avocado, harvest gold and brown appliances still make me shudder. (No, I am not sorry I got rid of the chocolate brown fridge in place at my summer house when I bought it in 1999.)

      But hey, it’s nice to have options out there for everyone’s taste.

  5. lynda says

    The whole retro look in a fresh modern way is very appealing. I can see a lot of young people loving this look. I bet some of these pictures will get posted to Pinterest!

  6. says


    I would use it for a mini art studio and it would be my favorite place in the world!

    Even though I am not a huge fan of prints, I love the Lavaliers wallpaper! Very cool stuff!

  7. Wendy M. says

    I love that most of these are used sparingly (the square over the bed, the strip at the end of the wall of panels.) I think it makes it like hanging a large piece of art, rather than overwhelming an enitre room with a large pattern. I’m also very happy to see something with color! It’s wonderful that there are still companies that are not ONLY trying to appeal to the masses.

  8. TappanTrailerTami says

    Well, let’s see….I think I’ll start my day in the little trailer reading a book, and then before bed, I’ll take a bath, and then I’ll climb under the chenille covers……

    My favorite of these papers is the Reverie on in the bathroom, but I really do like the blue/green/white theme in the bedroom shot also.

    Another great collection of options, thanks for posting them Pam.

  9. Guy H. says

    I absolutely love 70s wallpaper. These designs are magnificent!

    I have lots of 1970s wall paper in my home and I hope when it wears out or gets ruined that there is some vintage style paper I can find to replace it with.

    Great post, Pam!

  10. Chad says

    I’m thinking now, just a touch of this cool wallpaper would be great used on a roll-up type blind like I have in my kitchen. (Or any other room) Perhaps roll out the blind, adhere the wallpaper to the blind with spray adhesive and then trim the bottom edge with some coordinating trim and voila! a retro touch.

  11. Stacy says

    When I went to the website, and clicked on the USA version, it gave me a map of distributers, one even here in St. Louis. Is it just this line that isn’t available here? I’ll have to go take a closer look at the website when I have more time. Otherwise, my husbands making a stop for me on his next business trip to London!

    • pam kueber says

      Well, perhaps I’m wrong and it is available in the US. I am on the run right now, I will do some digging when I get a moment.

  12. Kate says

    The teapots in the room with horizontal paneling are from about 1966. Denby Chevron, made in England, my parents wedding china – I still have it!

    • pam kueber says

      Very cool! Yes, in the accessories list that Little Greene sent to me, it was clear the stylists used lots of vintage. I LOVE that about them! Not afraid to use the Real Deal!

  13. Lisa Hildebrand says

    Love “the box” wallpaper. I just closed on a 1958 ranch home. Doing some flooring and paint prior to moving in. I’m not usually a wallpaper kind of gal – but I’m trying to be brave. Thinking I might do one wall in the dining room with something mid-mod.

    The house I bought comes with wallpaper on the ceiling in two of the bedrooms. Gold Damask (tone on tone) in what will be the office; and a gold with small blue floral print in the master bedroom. Since it is original to the house, I’m going to live with it for a year or two before making a final decision as to whether it stays or goes. Anyone else have wallpaper on the ceiling in a 50’s house? I’ve not seen it before.


    • pam kueber says

      I don’t have it, but I want it!!! Yes, you are very wise not to live with it! Hey, can you send me some pics? retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com. Congrats on the new/old house, it sounds like it found the right owner!

  14. LilPeg says

    We are in the process of re-doing an entire house like it is 1955! We will send pix when we are done. These wall-papers are good inspiration for fabric choices for pillows and such. Not sure I could look at an entire wall of them. BTW thanks for this fab site.

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome, LilPeg, and yes, take lots of photos! Be sure to see my category Remodeling Basics — see the subcategories for lots more inspiration!

  15. samantha says

    hi! love the multi colored drawer desk, where can i find one? it looks new. i’m trying to update my tweens room with a fun look that we will all like!! any tips are appreciated! thanks!

  16. Monique says

    We’re in the middle of ‘updating’ our circa 1963 bathroom. We’re retaining all the original American Standard greenish-teal fixtures. We had to remove some circa 1999 wallpaper from REAL plaster walls…thankfully only one layer. However, might I suggest using warm water with vinegar in a pump sprayer for helping with the removal…and start at the BOTTOM after wetting thoroughly. You will still have to re-wet and scrape a second time to remove ALL the wallpaper glue before a light sanding and priming. NOTE: this is for a FULL/REAL plaster wall, not the new fangled drywall.

    We were pleasantly surprised to find the ORIGINAL heavy vinyl wallpaper behind the original mirror/medicine cabinet. It literally fell off the wall when we removed the mirror, as the glue was dried out…I’m sure the many steam producing showers over the years helped the process along. It was the only section of the wall we didn’t have to scrape glue off. And, yes, we’ve saved the piece and have plans for it. We plan on posting the before and after photos when all is complete.

    Love seeing these papers and the uses for them in today’s world. They are still stylish, fun and worth hanging…again…and again. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful ideas…

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks for your comments, Monique. I do want to pop in, though, and remind readers: Be sure to test for vintage nastiness such as lead paint before sanding layers; consult with a properly licensed professional.

      • Monique says

        Indeed, indeed Pam! Forgot to mention that we made sure the walls were ‘raw’ plaster even before we started peeling the paper…we did a teeny area…noticed NO base coat, primer, etc. We had also read that older wallpaper glue sometimes contained pesticide(s), so we wore breather masks and gloves for ALL the wallpaper removal and subsequent sanding and wiping of the walls…also kept the kittys out of the entire work zone until every horizontal & vertical surface was clean after the removal! (Our bathroom has never been cleaner.) Can’t ever be too careful when dealing with old and ‘near’ old material removal.

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