As 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.
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.