18 different patterns of vintage wallpaper in David’s Australian bungalow — 50+ photos

An “exaggerated, joyous, and smile factor”
vintage wallpaper frenzy

mid century modern house australiaI have long had a theory that it is nigh on impossible to wallpaper just one room. Once a bit of wallpaper goes up onto the wall, it begs for company. It begs for a party. And holey Down Under, a party is just what reader David has delivered: He says he “stole” the words “exaggerated, joyous and smile factor” from our blog — and encouraged, he has joyfully plastered his sunny Australian mid mod house with 18 different patterns of vintage wallpaper.  And to heck with matchy-matchy. It’s visual chaos — and absolute delight. You know me and my luv of vintage wallpaper — I am absolutely entranced by David’s masterpiece. Get read to click on through and be amazed, with this warning: If you have a hangover or have just consumed much coffee and sugar, you may want to hold off for a few hours before viewing:

vintage 1970s wallpaperI first heard from David before the recent holidays. He wrote:

Hi Pam

I sent in a photo to Retro Renovation [for your] wallpaper [uploader] in June.

I have completed the wallpaper frenzy, in time for Xmas. On and off for months I have been wallpapering the house, it is summer here in Australia and I have had to pick the cooler days.

vintage volkswagen australiaThe wallpapering has got me into the mid century colors and I also stumbled upon a honey brown 1971 VW for $600 on ebay. It matches the house, I have been working in it in addition to the wallpapering. I have recently road registered the VW.

vintage wallpaper australiaIt is my turn to host 25 of the family for Xmas. We are having mid-century theme — food, clothes and thrift shop presents.

vintage wallpaper bedroomThe wallpaper has been sourced from ebay and is mostly vintage left overs.

vintage wallpaper 1970sThere are now 18 different patterns in the house, and I have used some 45 rolls. Every wall has wallpaper except the toilet. I not only did the walls but also the refrigerator, dishwasher and inside the kitchen.cabinets

vintage car wallpaperl have stolen the terms from your blog “exaggerated, joyous and smile factor” and have used this as inspiration. The wallpaper patterns and colours therefore are meant to be over the top and not necessarily matching.

The best thing about wallpaper is the finish, also once you stand back you cannot see any imperfections even when you know where they are.

vintage bathroom wallpaperPeople that have seen it have said what happens when you sell the house, my response is the only way I am leaving this house is feet first


So David sent me all the photos, in batches, and we touched base again after Christmas. I asked him what his family thought of the wallpaper frenzy. He wrote:

Hi Pam

I am so relieved xmas is over!

Everyone liked the mid century theme and house, although some were initially a bit overwhelmed by the wallpaper and other mid century trinkets. As they looked around there was a stunned silence from those who had not seen the house, I guess they are more accustomed to whites/beiges not patterns and colours.

wallpaper muralI think I overheard the word eccentric – there are worse things one can be called (and in fact have been called), anyway I take this as a compliment.

vintage wallpaper patchworkThe funniest thing about the mid century theme was the thrift shop presents. How funny was it to unwrap a 70s wooden tennis racquet with an original kangaroo skin cover or a beige polyester safari suit that the recipient had to wear (by popular demand). The invite for the day had said “guests may be required to wear their present” – this was an attempt to steer people into getting funny vintage clothing for presents.

flocked wallpaperAll the wallpaper was from ebay and advertised as vintage or retro. Going by the packaging it was mostly vintage. To my horror one lot had a barcode.

putting up wallpaperWhat can I say. Life’s a big canvas — throw on a lot of paint. Or better yet: Wallpaper.

Thank you, David, for this super mega dose of exaggerated, joyous, smile factor — which will radiate all across the Retro Renovation universe all day long!

Full gallery of David’s interiors, enlarged images:

Tip to view gallery: Click on any image, it will enlarge on screen, use arrows below image to move forward and back, you can pick up slide show at any point:

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  1. hannah says

    ALL kids of fun! I wish I could talk Mr. Wonderful in to papering SOMETHING….but, alas, I can’t.

    I want those VW’s.

  2. Rick says

    WoW….! Really like the blk, wht, red, grey and the black, grey,. . . avocado ‘right angles wall paper. + also looking at all the great furnishings and beautiful doors/closet doors. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sarah g (roundhouse) says

    I like that ‘they’ll have to drag me out feet first attitude’! I often get the same reaction when making design choices. My mom will roll her eyes and say ‘you must not be planning on selling this house one day’. But really I don’t make choices with supposed future people in mind, this is MY house! I mean even if I did choose ‘tame’ options odds are they wont like that either…
    Love the bold gusto! Makes me want to wallpaper something…

    • Sarah g (roundhouse) says

      Speaking of bold… Getting purple countertops in the bathroom today so let the eye rolling commence! Muahahaha!

      • ChrisH says


        You are exactly right. When and if you sell, the buyers won’t like it no matter what. Why live with bland?

  4. Linda says

    David, crazy-yes, wonderful-yes! Why not do whatever you like? It’s YOUR house, and should be full of things that give YOU delight. I think our parent’s generation was taught to follow the crowd…don’t attract attention, use ‘safe’ colors (beige, gray, white), suppress your creativity. I’ve always loved wallpaper-right now I’m looking for something for my bathroom-pale yellow tiles and original gray linoleum floor. Black and white, grays, silver and then a saturated lavender or blue-green for accents. I love glass, sparkle, gemstones-maybe the wallpaper will be a rich paisley-definitely a vintage pattern. Would love to see your house in person! And your VW-brings back memories of my ’69 that we painted with yellow rustoleum so that all of the ‘parts’ would match! Hmmm…a wallpapered VW…..

    • Renee says

      I had a 67 bug that had been painted orange at some point, but the paint had oxidized into a pinkish orange, so I bought 10 cans of orange paint and re-painted it. I lived in Southern California and the paint still looked good until I sold in two years later. My high school friends still make fun of me thirty years later!

  5. says

    WOW! And good for you re the “resale” question–why are people always looking to resell their homes? Why not just LIVE in it?

  6. LauraRG says

    Amazing… there’s wallpaper on every wall in my 1961 house, but sadly it was put up around 1980 or so… it’s all very grandmotherly little florals. I would be ecstatic if the wallpaper in my house was as enthusiastic as his wallpaper… what a beautiful house!!

  7. Jay says

    This all comes together from an aesthetic approach – it works. I liked the fridge covered in paper and I am not even a wallpaper guy. The exterior of the house has nice clean lines and the interiors are great. I like how the windows meet at the room corners and are covered with drapes residing behind wooden valences. I liked your response about going out feet first. I agree, live in the house for “yourself, the “now” and not for the future owner; let them worry about putting their own stamp on it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Mary says

    What a way to start a Monday – this made my week! All those papers make me smile, well done David! I LOVE wallpaper. My Nana’s home had it in almost every room and it always felt so elegant and “finished” to me as opposed to paint. We rent an apartment, so for now I have to dream, but when my husband and I find our “forever home” someday, wallpaper is going UP, and hopefully it will be vintage.

  9. Jennifer Noble says

    David, what an inspiration, I just love what you’ve done with the wallpaper, you must have had so much fun, and the VW as well! Perhaps
    you might think about letting others enjoy your 70s dream. Your christmas guests must have had a ball.

  10. Robin, NV says

    Oh wow, I just love the hallway paper. And the fridge looks awesome! I’ve been told I’m “wasting my money” retro renovating my house. Supposedly, the next owner won’t like it and will rip everything out. My feelings are 1) it’s my house and I have every right to decorate it the way I want and 2) quality work and materials always stand out and will be appealing to potential buyers. But yeah, the point is, it’s MY house.

    • Robin, NV says

      Oh and one more thing as long as we’re thinking about Australian stuff. I found an Australian home decorating book from the 1950s a few weeks ago. I bought it mostly because it has stencil patterns for the most adorable animals you’ve ever seen. They would be great in a child’s room. It also has lots of ideas for decorating walls with paint and wallpaper.

  11. Mary says

    Prompted by this post, I am looking at vintage wallpapers on ebay, and as luck would have it – I found the bedroom wallpaper that my previously mentioned Nana and my step-grandfather had in their bedroom. It was done by a decorator and they had a quilted bedspread, drapes and bed curtains around the head of the bed done in the same print, backed with a harvest gold and white small stripe. What a flashback.


  12. JKaye says

    It looks like David is allowing the wallpaper to be the star, and is being judicious in his use of other decorative items. The light touch with wall art and knick knacks really helps to make this decorating approach work. My two favorites are the light green paisley wallpaper in the bathroom and the red and white flocked paper in the room with the huge mirror. Neither pattern or color is something I would think I would like, but, they seem to really work in these settings. I think this post will stir up a lot more interest in wallpaper!

  13. says

    awesomeballs! i swore off wallpaper in the 90’s but have been gravitating back to its delightfully pleasing aesthetic lately. this home is definite inspiration!

  14. kyle says

    No one in my family even suggests a Christmas gift idea. They all just say can’t wait to see what you come up with this time. The brown paper packages tied up with string were the best. No one remembers what was inside. Great wallpaper story.

  15. Diane in CO says

    My husband and I almost had a divorce over wall-papering a bathroom in our former house in the early ’70’s. It looked spectacular but….. We are still together, happily, but will leave the wallpapering to talented guys like you, David, and let wallpaper voyeurism rule! You A_R_E the M_A_N. :-) Thank you for sharing your happy home.

    p.s. Need pic of recipient in MCM Safari Leisure Suit…. love the idea of MCM food, clothes and thrift shop presents as a holiday theme. May have to copy that one…. with a Martini’s and Meatloaf dinner.

  16. Mandy says

    Thanks a lot for sharing David, I smiled all the way through this. Every person like you who shares encourages and emboldens others to fearlessly be themselves too!
    Mandy (Aus)

  17. ErinO says

    The red floral striped wallpaper looks like the same that my parents have in their bedroom. Their house was built in the 1970s and my mom rewallpapered everything when they moved in in the late 70s. Before she wallpapered one of the kid’s rooms had bright pink wallpaper featuring bunnies LOL The kitchen is the best though, it has stripes of orange and green flowers that we always thought looked like pumpkins. Again it’s probably from the late 70s and is still there today :)

  18. says

    I would LOVE to know where you found the light fixture over the washer/dryer! We had a pull down light in an apartment many years ago and I would love to find another. I’m not even sure what it is called. The one you have is just perfect! What a fun home!

  19. says

    How wonderful to see another Australian Mid-mod fanatic on this wonderful site! Where are you located David ? I have a friend whose whole house is the same thing-different wallpapers in every room plus she has the floor tiled in mixes of retro tiles so the final effect is that of a tiled rug. My obsession has led me to create a retro style B&B in the Dandenongs out of Melbourne. It is designed to capture Australia in the early 1950s and though we only opened in late December 2012 we are getting lots of positive feedback about what fun it is and how people love the nostalgia. All the best with your project!

  20. Jo Hodson says

    Was led to your images by our mutual friend. I love what you’ve done David, it’s inspirational, individual and eclectic….so NOT sheepeople!

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