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7 places to buy vintage wallpaper — from 80 cents to $200 per roll

vintage wallpaper lotto

I am the world’s number #1 fan of vintage wallpaper for midcentury homes. I think it is wonderful to warm up a foyer… it’s great in a guest bath… and for the kitchen: Yes! Honestly, once you start with the wallpaper, it’s kind of hard to stop. You know how you can’t be “just a little bit pregnant”? Similarly, it’s difficult to add “just a little bit of wallpaper.”  There are several spendy “go-to” places to buy vintage wallpaper in the U.S. I’ll list them here. But in this “Retro Renovation 101” post, I also will share how I found some of my gorgeous wallpapers for as little as $1.25 a double roll.

1. Buy vintage wallpaper from one of the big three specialty shops

The hardest part about finding and buying vintage wallpaper, in my opinion, is that you need quite a few rolls to do most jobs. Unless you get stripes or a small geometric print, there often are large “repeats” in wallpaper, which means that lots goes to waste as you match up the design laying the paper. I have a small mudroom and argh, the wallpaper person I use said I needed 6 double rolls. Who’da thought? So, a key reason to go to the expensive, specialist places is that they know this, and they’ve collected lots and lots of multiple roll sets. Remember: Time is money, and these places have spent lots of time amassing their collections… now, they need to monetize it. Time is also money in the sense that, if you are out of time, or don’t want to take the time or wait it out, here’s your wallpaper ready to buy. All of this is build-up to say:  Vintage wallpaper from one of the “Big Three” specialty shops is going to be expensive, as I write this, up to $200 roll, in some cases more. And no ranting about it. Time=Money. The big three places to go — all of which have good online stores are:

2. Buy vintage wallpaper on ebay

The key to ebay shopping is search terms, and tenacity. I am nuts for vintage wallpaper, and my Saved Search says: “vintage wallpaper rolls”. I put that word ROLLS (plural) in there, because I don’t want to see single rolls, of which there are multitudes. If you are really truly madly deeply on the hunt, make up multiple searches, such as: Antique wallpaper, midcentury wallpaper, 1940s wallpaper, 40s wallpaper, etc etc…. Also, once you find a seller who seems to deal in this stuff save that sellers’ searches as well.

One more ebay tip: If you see flashes of goodness, go down that seller’s rabbit hole. This takes a lot of Time.

vintage bathroom wallpaper
I found this vintage wallpaper super cheap — like $1 a roll — at an estate sale a few years ago.

 

3. Buy vintage wallpaper from an old-time wallpaper store in your town

I found and purchased dozens of fantastic rolls of vintage wallpaper from a local store in the next town over that had been in business since the 1950s. Over the years, they had transformed to sell art supplies and had phased out their wallpaper business. I saw some vintage rolls on display — they were selling it for craft projects — and simply asked, Is there more? Yup. Owner Steve took me down to the basement, where my head started to spin and my fingers started to itch, I couldn’t slap that credit card out fast enough.

pam kueber
I created a patchwork of vintage wallpaper in my crazy office remodel.

I have used a bunch of this wallpaper throughout my house, and I am hoarding the rest. Because I have an attachment issue. Also, because I think *some day* I will have a use for it.  Bottom line: Think about it and then stalk (nicely) your local old-time stores to see what stock they may have forgotten about and would be happy to get rid of.

 4. Attics and basements of estate sales

Run to the basement of estate sales. Then the attic. Then the closets. You may find some there.

I found 10 rolls of this vintage wallpaper for $8 total at an estate sale last summer!

This past summer I scored 10 rolls of the absolutely gorgeous pink-gold-creamy-gray design wallpaper (above) at an estate sale for $8. That’s my 80 cents per double-roll best-price-of-all-time find — and the photo does barely scratched the surface of this paper’s beauteousness. It was in an upstairs bedroom, in a box, probably pulled out of a closet, it was 100 degrees up there, and the box was horrifically dusty and very off-putting. But not to me. Fear dirt on your hands, and you will go home empty-handed.

5. Search for vintage wallpaper with a “wanted” ad on craigslist or in your local newspaper.

Okay, here’s one last idea: Put a “wanted” ad in your local newspaper and/or on craigslist. When I was looking for a bathroom sink about eight years ago, I found it by placing an ad in my local newspaper. I live in the kind of market where that could work … it’s a tight community and back then, at least, “everyone” read the newspaper. Today, I would start on craigslist, though, because all listings are free and because craigslist is so much more well known. Lots of folks read these ads with great intensity — maybe yours will catch their eye, causing them to remember, “Hey! I have some of that in my basement!” That’s exactly what happened with the person who saw my ad for a sink. I bet that, event today, there are thousands of rolls of vintage wallpaper stored in basements and closets of America — waiting to strut their vintage stuff for YOU!

Do you love wallpaper as much as I do?
See all my stories about wallpaper — vintage and retro-new — here.

  1. Elena says:

    I recently visited the showroom of a company in the San Fernando Valley in So. Cal. that has a wonderful collection of vintage wallpaper (trade only), and if you have the $$$, also makes custom wallpapers. Go to:www.designyourwall.com and check out the “retro. vintage wallpaper” – there are some wonderful pink themed papers (pink fish for a bath palace anyone?!) The gal I spoke with said that they are getting many orders for red flocked paper these days – perfect for a 50’s dining room. I am looking though for “rose red” more a bluish red. I may go with a gold pagoda pattern embossed on grass paper made by Schumacher, though the red flocked stuff is tempting for our 1956 California ranch dinging room. Any suggestions Pam – I am in the exploratory phase? P.S. Anyone seen any great vintage looking wall paper murals? My grandmother always had them in her living/ dining room and the nostalgia factor has me searching. And Pam, you have no idea how you’ve inspired us to purchase a very neglected Carmichael, CA home and embark on bringing it back to its glory. Many thanks, Elena & Brian

  2. pam kueber says:

    Welcome, Elena. Vintage flocked paper is the most expensive of all. I have always wondered about Designyourwall and whether they can truly replicate the fantastic inks of vintage wallpaper. Personally, I would aim for the true vintage stuff, or the higher end stuff with excellent printing technology from the likes of Bradbury, Sanderson and Schumacher. Oh, Thibaut, too — who, I believe, has a few murals still! I bookmarked them a ways back – thank you for the reminder to me to check them out in more detail. Good luck and SO HAPPY about your new/old house. Take lots of before and after photos and I’ll put you on the blog when you are ready for prime time.

  3. Teri says:

    Any ideas for getting wallpaper remade? I am restoring a house that has been in my family since early 1970’s, all the furniture, decor, and wallpaper is original from when the home was built in 1963. I have gotten a hold of one company but they said that they have to change the print 20% for copyright reasons, but if they do that, it won’t match the rest of the room since I am using it to repair not completely replace. Can you recommend anyone else who re-manufacture the prints, I still have some of the original but not enough. Thanks!

  4. Karen says:

    I am super duper envious of your collection!!! Are you sure you wouldn’t sell a few rolls? I have some projects going that I would love to use them in. Like… those poodles in my half bath! Please!?? It’s just no fair! Agh!

  5. Judy Meyer says:

    I’m trying to find a childhood wallpaper from about 1952 or so. The background was light blue, and it was covered with dancing snowmen with children and small buildings (churches?). Thank you.

  6. pam kueber says:

    Hi Judy, there were many many thousands of wallpaper designs. Finding this will be like finding a needle in a haystack. Tip: Contact the big companies that sell vintage wallpaper and let them know what you’re looking for.

  7. Susan Sherwood says:

    Colefax & Fowler printed “Berkley Sprig” for years; it was their logo paper. Discontinued just when I needed it! Any ideas? Or where to find old Brunschwig et Fils Williamsburg reproduction papers? Our 1840 stone house needs lots!

  8. pam kueber says:

    Have you tried Thibaut’s heritage collections? I’m not sure if they still make them.

    Otherwise: Try vintage!

  9. Ann says:

    Wallpaper and fabric hoarding is my passion! You forgot to add dumpster diving to your list of sources. I dumpster dove at the local wallpaper store. I found 4 unopened and 1 half used rolls of designer wallpaper that ended up being just enough to do the butler’s pantry above the bead board wainscot. Sure, I would have selected something else, but it does look period/great. I also took a bunch of discarded sample books, although some had water damage and had to be left. I have lined trays, drawers, made greeting cards, framed, wrapped containers and gifts etc. Always hunting. 🙂

  10. Pam Kueber says:

    Oh my! Dumpster diving for wallpaper — dreamy! I still regret that I was not into full retro mode when our local longtime wallpaper store changed locations. They later told me they threw out lots of old books, etc. cryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  11. We love wallpaper too. In fact, I have been in the trade for over 25 years. I own a personal and professional collection of over 150 books and reproduce them for interior designers, museums, architects, set designs, movie studios, theatres, restaurants, hotels, and collectors like yourself. Stop by DesignerWallcoverings.com where we have a large selection and staff on hand to help make your walls come back to life. Let’s reproduce history together.

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