<– TappanTrailerTami emailed me recently that she would be heading to Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers’ once-a-year open house on May 1. So, I asked owner Steve Bauer and customer service manager Beverly Phillips if they could give Tami a VIP tour so that she could file a report for the blog — and they happily agreed. Tami had a great time, and issues a full report from the field..
Finally! Time to write about my May Day tour of the Bradbury & Bradbury Wallpaper factory in Benicia CA last weekend. I’m very fortunate to live a little over an hour away, so this was pretty exciting!
I ended up with a much later start than planned due to some home stuff that had to be taken care of, but it all worked since it was the warmer part of the day and I decided to ride my motorcycle to Benicia.
Of course, I forgot to snap some photos of the outside of the very historical building where they are located. I found one on their Facebook page, so that will have to suffice. The building houses not only Bradbury & Bradbury, but also many artisans and a couple of antique and consignment shops.
After wandering through the building, I found Bradbury & Bradbury, and was warmly greeted by their Customer Service Manager, Beverly. Now, I have to confess, Beverly and I had a great phone conversation about 2 weeks prior to their one-time-per-year open house. I was calling to inquire whether they could change the colors of my favorite post war paper they make, Geranium. Beverly kindly explained that to change a color on silk screened wallpaper was doable, but if I changed one particular color, then all instances of that color on the paper would change.
Hmmm……the Geranium wallpaper has little flower pots, with cream, red, and blue flowers. In the non-flower pot areas, there are blue squares. I only wanted the squares changed….possibly to black. That was until Beverly said the blue flowers would then be black too! We had a good laugh over that, and I decided maybe black flowers might be a bit much, as I don’t think I’ve run into Mourning paper in a kitchen. There is a set up fee to change colors, and in general, once that is accomplished the actual cost of the paper in custom colors is approximately double the listed retail price.
Back to the tour – for some reason I had this “manufacturing” factory envisioned, but it was far from that. Instead, there was a large room with about 5 very long narrow tables, where they roll out the substrate paper that they silkscreen with the particular wallpaper design they are making. No real machinery required! Colors are applied one color at a time, so for papers with 6 or 7 colors, it means that many passes on the paper until it is completed. Their most expensive paper has a whopping 17 colors on it, so it is quite a lengthy process from start to finish. This is the paper behind the photo of Steve, Lisa, and Beverly.
In one of the photos, you can see the various stages of coloration on the paper. It certainly gave me a huge appreciation for the amount of work that goes into their wallpapers, and they absolutely take a great amount of pride in producing very high quality wallpapers. Much higher quality than one would ever find in a box store or in most retail wallpaper books.
I also have to say, when I walked in, the first thing that struck me about their papers in general is that they all have this “glow”. This is somewhat hard to describe, but it is kind of like the difference between looking at the outdoors after a long, hot, dry, dusty summer vs. how the outdoors look right after a nice fresh rain. So much more clarity, clean, crisp, depth of color and vibrancy. I found myself glowing just looking at them!
Quite a few of their papers also employ a bit of metallic ink, which also steps up the WOW factor. It seriously caused me to wish I was really wealthy so I could buy about 5 different houses to wallpaper.
After wandering a bit and looking at the paper being silkscreened, admiring all the great samples on the walls, and collecting my stash of samples to take home, Beverly introduced me to Steve and Lisa, the (awesome) owners of Bradbury & Bradbury. Steve does most of the design work, and in talking with him, he said that sometimes he will do exact replicas of historic or vintage wallpaper as he did with the Post War kitchen papers, and sometimes he pulls inspiration from other places. It was very evident in their Art Deco collection that architectural elements of the era were a strong influence.
The great thing about people who are passionate about historical and retro details, furniture, wallpapers, etc, is that they often end up sharing other passions, to be discovered in lively conversation. As Steve and I were talking, the next thing we knew, we were talking about vintage travel trailers and our mutual love of them. Unfortunately, I’m going to be selling mine, so of course I’ll be sending photos to Steve since they haven’t bought one yet.
Bradbury & Bradbury was a wonderful place to visit, with great staff and ownership, and for anyone thinking about wallpaper for their home, I highly recommend taking a look at their website. A few side notes that Steve told me: their rolls are wider at 27″ than standard modern papers, and quite a lot wider than vintage papers, most of which were about 18″ wide. I’ve looked at vintage paper, and generally speaking, it doesn’t come cheap, so it really isn’t much of a stretch to purchase Bradbury wallpaper. Of course, the added bonus is Bradbury & Bradbury can make as much paper as you need, and there is no worry of any lead based inks on their paper as there is on some of the vintage papers.
At the end of remodeling “Craig”, my mobile home, he will have a kitchen and possibly a dining room outfitted in Bradbury & Bradbury paper. I may very well end up being the only mobile home owner in California with Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper, but I will have the best walls around, without question. Maybe after I’m done, I’ll have to start calling my mobile home a mobilungalow.
A very special thanks to Pam for her arranging my VIP tour, and for all the wonderful posts and inspiration she provides us with her blog.
Thank you, Tami, what a great report — and I’m so happy you had fun. I do love this wallpaper! See all of Bradbury & Bradbury’s Modernism line — including papers from the 1990s through the 1970s eras — here.
Disclosure: Bradbury & Bradbury has advertised on my site in the past, and may start up again soon. That said, I write about retailers that interest me, whether they advertise or not. In fact, I hope to have someone start helping with advertising sales soon, so I don’t have to think about or even know what’s up with whom. Me just wanna write.