18 patterns of vintage wallpaper – 277 squares – for my Big Fat Retro Office Remodel

Pam's office remodel with 18 patterns of vintage wallpapermy crazy crafty office remodelHow to make the office remodel “epic”? How about: 18 different patterns of vintage wallpaper covering the four walls. Ta da! After two months of work, the majority of the office is done — in particular, all the architectural stuff that was part of the gut remodel. All this week I’ll be talking about the various details in My Big Fat Retro Office Remodel Special Report. But the highlight, no duh, is the vintage wallpaper: Yes, 18 different patterns spanning the 1940s to the 1970s… applied in 12″ x 12″ squares railroad-style, choo choo choo boom chicka boom. I counted 277 squares in all. Getting them cut and onto the walls took about 50 painstaking (Advil for me) hours. My friend Denise — who is a decorative painter and also Astro’s rescue mom — was a godsend and came up for a couple of days to help me get it done. That’s us, above, playing Love American Style Gothic with the wallpaper and daring everyone in America to embrace: Pattern and Color and Being Crazy. Portraits by another good friend, Erica Berger, who played right along and egged us on and made us look beautiful. Read on for more about the inspiration — which included two readers, and, umm, my hoarding gene — behind the room, as well as more about Special Report week.

So I guess I better remind you what this room looked like “before”:

my office before remodelAnd with my furniture and decoration:

my office decorated but before the remodelI started the remodel about three months ago. My goal, first and foremost, was to make the room warmer — not decoratively, but really truly. It’s in the basement, and in the winter it gets quite cold. Since I now work from home fulltime on the blog, I wanted to address this issue. At the same time, my husband and I decided to move the bookshelves to his office, which would open up space for me to work on my vintage collages and give him more storage for all his books.

As this week continues, I will spotlight other aspects of the remodel. In this story, I wanted to focus on the inspiration behind the flower power vintage wallpaper crazed walls:

    • I first wrote about the office remodel on March 19. At that time, I thought that — after pulling down the outside walls and adding insulation — I would just paint the new drywall a nice shade of burnt orange (my favorite color). I had a little chip on the wall, and I was kind of excited about an orange room.
    • On April 9, I wrote about Brian and Keri’s knotty pine den — and was blown away by the original vintage wallpaper on the ceiling. I had already been in constant thought and research about all the various elements of  my new office… and when I saw their den with all that vintage wallpaper loveliness… it was like boom kaPOW, I just had to use some of my vintage wallpaper. Paint = too easy.
    • I have a problem with the vintage hoarding thing. I am so smart and lucky to have collected a whole bunch of vintage wallpaper over the years — most of it in onesy-twosey rolls. I had always wanted to do a crazy quilt with tiles in a tub-shower surround. And, I have been starving for a mega-blast of flower-power colors. Starving. So I started thinking: Maybe… a crazy quilt with the wallpaper?
    • The whole idea of the repeat squares also came out of my fixation with vintage collage. I like to make collages on 4″ x 4″ squares — the education packs from Dick Blick that already have holes in the back. I was thinking: I could put wallpaper squares on the wall — and then collage onto them also. Like, the room will be my ongoing canvas…
    • Then, just a few days later, on April 12, I did the behemoth story on Cullen Meyer’s insanely genius Brooklyn apartment. It was a for-sure-no-question-who-was-I-kidding moment: I was going to do the crazy quilt on my walls. Cullen’s apartment definitely inspired me to cut my office wall design loose from any sense of propriety or restraint.
    • I also got a bit obsessed with vintage 12″ mirror tiles. I now own $100 worth. But none of them made it on the wall. No matter. They have entered the hoard and will find epic life elsewhere soon, I am sure.
    • Oh, there’s that word, “epic.” Last fall, I learned the phrase “Do Epic Shit.” I learned it here from Julien, who writes a blog that my friend Margaret pointed out to me. I like that phrase. A lot. My mom always tells me that since I was a baby, I would always do things “the hard way.” So of course, it was predestined that Denise and I would have the time of our lives wallpapering away. It was an epic blast, and I could not be possibly be more ecstatic about this room and how it turned out.

Pam Kueber and Denise Love American Style GothicFashion Sidebar: Denise and I also had epic fun getting ready for our big photo shoot. The night before, she brought over five vintage suitcases of vintage dresses collected at thrift shops. I had a bunch, too, but she had better ones and both these dresses are hers. The vintage go go boots were mine — they are now Denise’s, they fit her better so off they went home with her. The orange drop earrings are mine, and so are the eyeglasses — estate sale finds.

Coming up in this week’s My Big Fat Retro Office Remodel Special Report: How I created the crazy quilt design and how we installed the vintage wallpaper… An overview of all the things included in the gut-remodel … Spotlight on storage and special accessories … Trim … What I decided to do for craft storage … What’s left to do; ugh, will it never end… and maybe a a few more closeups of this ‘n that.

Link love:

See all the stories about my crazy craft office remodel by clicking here.

  1. gsciencechick says:

    In my former BR at my ‘house, I had wallpaper that looked like your wallpaper; it already was on the roll in the patchwork pattern, just smaller. we had it on the angled dormers and then my walls were orange.

  2. Sherree says:

    As much as I enjoy the tips, tricks and drooling over your vintage wallpaper……I LOVE YOUR DRESS AND SHOES!
    You look adorable 🙂

  3. Jamie Farone says:

    WOW! what an awesome idea and it looks fantastic!! I love the photo shoot too!, Pam, has anyone ever told you that you look just like the actress Parker Posey?? you two could be sisters! and that is a compliment! she is a very pretty woman. 🙂 I think this has inspired me to do some wallpapering of my own now..thanks!!

  4. Leslie says:

    I simply love it! I can’t stop looking at all of the colors and designs of wallpaper. One thing I think I noticed is that my favorite wallpaper square is only in one spot (that I can find). It’s the square in the middle between your’s and Denise’s heads, the larger bright green leaves with a splash of red. You both look amazing!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes, Leslie — that was a remnant I found at an estate sale. I could only get four 12″ square from that piece. Denise didn’t even want us to put them on the wall. She wanted me to frame the remnant, but I said I’m goin’ for it. I will do a followup post showing all 18 designs. All during the application of the room, we kept changing our minds about which design we loved the best. I still do it! You know, they all have their place!

      1. Sherree says:

        Leslie and Pam:
        I have the matching fabric to that wallpaper square you mentioned! (the one Denise did not want you to use; she wanted you to frame it). I picked up 2-3 yards at an antique faire last weekend. It is marked A Waverly Bonded Fabric “Spring Song”. Small world 🙂

  5. Lauryn says:

    From the land of the original American Gothic house (’bout 13 miles as the crow flies) WELL DONE! That is just fantastic, so fun and colorful and fanciful (reminds me of a patchwork dress I had back in the early 70s that I adored) and you two ladies look absolutely, stunningly fabulous! And I LOVE how you revised your statement about vintage hoarding. It’s all in how we frame things, isn’t it? Congrats, Pam, can’t wait to see more!

    1. pam kueber says:

      tee hee. I love the strikethrough function. Proof again — alas — that I should buy everything and never throw anything out!

  6. Just another Pam says:

    As everyone has so rightly said,quelle magnifique so may I mention how equally amazing you look? With all you do, the hours you work, have a real life too, AND don’t look a day over 35, if that, just after a gut reno?

    Wow, just flat out, wow.

    1. pam kueber says:

      haha, I don’t have a real life! Thank you for the lovely comments, yes, I sure feel like I’m rockin’ the 53 in these photos! Makeup, hair, lights, a teensy bit of photoshop — oh and COLOR COLOR COLOR — and the ecstasy of getting the work done FINALLY — amazing what that will do!

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