Fresh start for old wallpaper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am


Wallpaper has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. Where once only paint would do, now it seems everything goes, from traditional flocked and damask prints to new metallics.

Signature Prints can probably take most credit for the revival. The company rescued designs from the long-forgotten archive of legendary Australian Florence Broadhurst, who operated an internationally successful wallpaper company in the 1950s and 60s based on her own designs.

David Lennie, Signature Prints' CEO, says his decision to reprint designs from the Broadhurst library lay in their inherent beauty.

'In the 1980s, wallpaper lost its star role in the fashion sense,' he says. 'Minimalism was in vogue and so the designs were considered far too big and overpowering. It was a great temptation for others, but not me, to throw them away. Original screens from the Broadhurst library are at least 40-50 years old. It's excellent and it's opulent and it's just visually gorgeous.'

Committing to wallpaper can be an intimidating decision. But it adds depth to a room - which paint can't often do.

The key is to choose a design that suits the scale of your home. It is important to consider balance and contrast.

Small patterns can look lost in a high-ceilinged room, while heavily patterned prints can overwhelm a small or low-ceilinged space.

If you are unsure about committing to an entire wallpapered room, try using it sparingly or just on one wall.

To make a beautiful wall covering the focus of the room, pick out key colours from the design and repeat them in plain fabrics and painted woodwork. When it comes to prints, soft, rounded shapes lend a soothing touch to a room, whereas bold geometrics can add vibrant energy to a space.

Resene paint colour consultant Sarah Gregory says wallpaper is no longer reserved for bedrooms.

'We're seeing it in lounges, on the wall where the TV is, and more and more in the kitchen,' Gregory says.

'When wallpaper first started coming back in it was very floral because women were the ones using it.

'Now there are some that are really quite masculine, like bricks and tiles, and geometrical patterns as well.'

Gregory says botanicals, flowers and plants, are still very popular, as are geometrics, stripes, metallics and textures such as flocking, a process by which small fibres are applied to an adhesive-coated surface, making the paper look and feel like velvet.