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

cute vintage trailer with little greene walpaperAs 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

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. 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.


    1. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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!

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