Vintage wallpaper is a key element for setting the mood in historical homes and a staple of fun contemporary design. You can use a 1960s red, white and blue polka dot to liven up home accessories like lampshades, paper an average kitchen in a psychadelic 1970s pattern or create a cozy library by employing a simulation of a style from the 1800s above a chair rail made of mahogany molding. Browse specialty catalogs, online sources and home decorating stores for a range of authentic and reproduction styles at various price points. You can even make an appointment to visit the vintage wallpaper collection at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City to view thousands of inspiring examples. When you find a style you love at a retail outlet, don't initially worry about whether it would be too much for your room; take home a sample and let it guide your thinking. You don't have to use it on every wall.
A popular and inexpensive way to bring vintage wallpaper into your design is to make or find accessories that use small amounts of bold retro prints. Visit artisan boutiques and crafters' websites to track down ideas. Lampshades are an especially fitting showcase. To make your own drum-shaped vintage wallpaper lampshade, purchase a scrap of vintage wallpaper and a lampshade kit. Cut a scrap of wallpaper to size using a utility knife and a ruler. Place a thin line of craft glue along the top and bottom edges of the paper. Wrap the paper around the metal frame, rolling down the top and bottom edges over the hoops. Clip the wallpaper using clothespins to hold it in place as it dries, and voila! You have a vintage wallpaper lampshade for a living room side table, or a pendant lamp that will draw attention and add sass to a kitchen or office.
Creative wallpapering techniques use scraps of vintage prints in combination for a powerful and playful aesthetic result that resembles a quilt.Try deep pink, bue and purple versions with velvet reliefs to cover a bedroom wall. Mix plaids for a cool masculine look. If this sounds to you like overkill, try it just inside your closet. Talk about a cozy home for your collection of retro miniskirts and lacy lingerie. If even the closet seems like it could be overwhelming, or just too large of a project, paper the insides of bedroom drawers. Create a removable vintage wallpaper drawer paper by gluing a collage of small pieces to cardboard inserts that fit inside each drawer.
If you have a historical home—say, a Victorian you are renovating—you may be on the market for the appropriate vintage wallpapers for your space. Research your options using historical renovation magazines and books and consider selections from speciality wallpaper companies. Many businesses cater to this need, selling either actual vintage papers or reproductions. Collect samples and consider them carefully, hanging pieces on your wall and pairing them with paint chips. Hallways and ceilings are especially cool when treated in paper appropriate to the era. Go all-out, choosing the colors and shapes you will enjoy looking at without feeling overly bound to mimicking a particular design.
Make an appointment at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City where more than ten thousand papers are archived, or write to them with your questions about period paper. Vintage wallpaper tells the story of home decorating techniques throughout history. Wallpapers were once used to keep homes warm (they still do, although it isn't the primary reason people paper their homes anymore), and elaborate designs including those made of embossed leather represent a level of craftsmanship and investment of time that can be difficult to come by, today.
Consider reproductions if you can't find authentic vintage wallpapers you like. From 1960s pastel swirls to1930s subtle patterns of stars, flowers and dots, you can find a contemporary print of almost any type of pattern you need. They are not all cheap, but some are less expensive than others. You can also find coordinating retro fabrics to fix up drapes, upholstery and accents to complete your look.
Borders offer another option for incorporating vintage wallpaper into a room without overwhelming it with pattern. You can find odd borders with images of retro appliances for a kitschy addition to the kitchen, and sweet drawings of animals, flowers, cars and toys for a child's bedroom. You can combine a border with a coordinating paint job or with one or several full-scale wallpapers, or use a very small amount around the top edge of a pantry, bathroom or other small space.
Try a bold, fantastic vintage wallpaper in a small room to make it stand out. Wallpapering small rooms can actually make them feel bigger, especially when you pair the look with furniture and accessories that draw the eye and keep the room uncluttered. Try a green-themed living room with faux-bamboo wallpaper from the 1960s in green and white, wicker tables, kelly green floor-length curtains and throw pillows in all types of green on white prints including leaves.
Try a dynamic, colorful design on a single wall in a large room, painting the other walls a solid shade or white. Unify the look with molding if necessary. One of the great assets of vintage wallpaper, especially designs from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, is that you can get lost in their twirls and swirls, which can be calming, or help you think. Place your wallpaper wall across from a comfortable counch and give yourself a fantastic place to space out.