As soon as I purchased my home last fall (2019), I knew I would be wallpapering as I have become smitten with English decor, and with the arrival of each new issue of The English Home, I was becoming ever more convinced my home would not be a true sanctuary without many of the walls being adorned with prints or textures that would give each room the “background soundtrack” so to speak I imagined to create a cozy, welcoming, rejuvenating individual space.
UPDATED 2/2022: As of December 2021, I have wallpapered five rooms in Le Papillon, and am ever more eager to find spaces to wallpaper throughout my home as each time it completely transforms the space into a sanctuary to live, connect, be and rejuvenate. I continue to read articles and books about the paradoxical space enlarging effect of printed wallpaper as well as cozy comfort prints provide in a home. Initially, if you haven’t lived with wallpaper, or wallpaper that created the tone you would desire in a living space, this can be hard to trust, but indeed it is true.
My first wallpapering project in my current home, Le Papillon, was the room you see above with my sweet boy Norman – the mudroom. Immediately upon finishing the space, my small 1500 sq ft. home seemed to extend far longer beyond the exterior wall that the mudroom provides as it draws the eye into the space. At the same time, it created a space of purpose, defined it and prompts me to slow down, take a breath and rest my mind. As I shared in the original posting of this post in May 2020, at that time I had wallpapered two small rooms (my mudroom and my foyer), and I had plans for at least three more. Well, that has happened (my guest bathroom, my primary bedroom and my office), and my sixth room (my primary bathroom) is almost complete (look here in the archives if you are reading this after March 2022). All of the wallpaper chosen for Le Papillon are from British companies or British designers – storied and beloved as well as modern and trusted.
Wallpapering in the states is not as prevalent as Britain, but in the past couple of years I have noticed that has begun to change. With more beautiful offerings, or possibily just more easily seen and noticed due to social media, potential customers are more aware of where to find what they want and with endless online tutorials, becoming more confident to give it a go. The change is powerful. And often the hestitation is due primarily only to the drastic change – will I like it? will it be too much? what if I mess it up?
Well, the good news is, it is far easier to hang wallpaper than you might suppose, but be sure to read up BEFORE you begin about how to do it well (I have a detailed post to help you out). Then, get started because you are about to create a space you love.
Depending upon the size of the room, it may take a couple of days, so do not feel you have to rush. If you are hanging a print wallpaper, note the drop length as this will require more wallpaper than you may expect in order to match up the prints exactly. It has been my experience that I need to order one more roll than I think I do (as evidenced by my error in my last room when I had to wait three weeks for an additional roll to arrive as I ran out of enough paper).
But why wallpaper? Painting is far simpler, which is predominantly the reason to choose paint instead of wallpaper and is now far more affordable than wallpaper often is. Wallpaper’s history is one of luxury and hung in palatial, aristocratic, upper echelon homes. Wallpapers were mainly only hung in the most prominent rooms in the house where guests would mingle – the living room or parlour, the dining room and only the most important bedrooms. Bathrooms and kitchens were painted or tiled.
I have heard more than a few times when people see my mudroom wallpaper (which is floral in design), that reminds me of my grandmother’s wallpaper (said with a nostalgic smile). Now, I know they meant it as a compliment, and that is just my point, it was an investment, it was not something that changed with one’s mood and it was often chosen by people who had the disposable income to do as well as hung in more public rooms where guests would be present. But I think what this person’s comment also exemplifies is that it is memorable and comforting.
As I have shared before, a TSLL reader has described the warmth of wallpaper well, it is very much like a hug, a warm and sincere welcome creating a space that is thoughtfully attended.
Thankfully, there is now more affordable wallpapers to choose from. Of course, and as you will see below, there are still investment options as well, but depending upon the size of the room or wall you wish to paper and your budget, I am confident you will find exactly what you want.
With all of that said, and with it being British Week, having spent oodles of hours online this past fall trying to locate wallpapers for myself, many of the companies I explored were British. Today I would like to share with you ten companies founded in Britain, give you a brief description of their history and design ethos as well as a couple of visuals; however, be sure to click through on their link as they have seemingly endless other choices and colors and designs to choose from. I hope this post will serve as a resource as you move forward with any wallpapering projects you are considering if you too are like me and a wee bit of a Anglophile and lover of British decor style. Enjoy!
~UPDATED: 2/2022 – Since the original posting in May 2020, the post has been updated to included two more wallpaper sources plus more images of my additional rooms that have been wallpapered.
Beginning in the 1860s, the father of the Arts & Crafts movement (and yes, the actual person to state the now ubiquitous decor maxim – “Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”), William Morris began designing wallpaper, a “new version of naturalistic patterns to wallpaper and fabric. Some of Morris’ designs were inspired – or copied – from historic designs he found in the Victoria and Albert Museum. But mostly, Morris designed from nature, using as a basis the plants and flowers found in his own gardens or in the woods and fields close to his homes.”
When I began selecting wallpaper for Le Papillon, I held on to a dream of a wallpaper I so hoped I could incorporate somewhere in some room some way or another. What wallpaper design was it? None other than one of the most ubiquitous and instantly identifiable William Morris prints from one of his first collections – Willow Bough – the original color way. Believed to be inspired by willow trees in his own garden, I have been smitten by this print since I first laid eyes on it in magazines and online. And the beautiful part about this wallpaper is that it can be used in just about any room. I have seen it as you see it below, in bathrooms. I have also seen it in hallways, bedrooms and even sitting rooms.
Having the good fortune in a previous home I owned to have a willow tree in my garden, its graceful moments with the wind, romantic draping of leaves and branches bring fond memories to my mind, and I find the print to marry both the traditional feminine qualities of sensuality as well as masculine hues in its variations of brown and deep greens that fade gently with the underside of the leaves.
I finally decided I would bring this print to my guest bathroom, and while a small space, when the renovation was complete, the entire room was transformed primarily, if not entirely, by the wallpaper that encompasses the entire space. (tour the entire room here)
Larkspur design, 1872
If you are interested in Arts & Crafts wallpaper, and especially William Morris, you will note that the designer online shop William Morris’ website sends you too is no longer open. Do not worry. Visit Trustworth Wallpapers.
Located in New England, I have personally spoken David E Berman who owns this company (you will need to do this too to order as he doesn’t accept orders online), and he is lovely and dedicated to his craft and business. The designs are beautiful and not cheap. However, they are high quality, having received a sample from him as I was determined if I wanted his Blue Bird (seen below) design in my mudroom or elsewhere in the home.
3. Lewis & Wood
Wallpaper and fabric design company Lewis & Wood is a fun follow on Instagram as they will regularly share with you interior projects with their designs such as the one below.
Established more than 25 years ago in a London basement, the mission by founders Stephen Lewis (a textile printer) and London decorator Joanna Wood was a determination to use British talent and manufacturing.
Their design model is one of quality over quantity which is no doubt why they have been around for so long and trusted for so long. Only introducing a select half-dozen new designs each season, “they do not advertise and they do not have a string of showrooms. In a world of too many fabrics and wallpapers, Lewis & Wood offers the edited version – high-quality, considered and concise.”
They now have a headquarters in New York City, so acquiring their designs is far easier for those of us in the states.
Founded in 1860, Sanderson has been around for quite some time and continues to offer quality wallpapers. You can source their wallpaper through Finest Wallpaper as well John Lewis (linked above). Discover classic nature designs full of plants, blossoms, animals, as well as playful designs as seen below with Beach Huts. Their prices are far more reasonable than others on this list.
Swallows design (different colors available)
Beach Huts design (two dolors available)
I quickly became drawn to Little Greene’s designs, and when I came across Grosvenor’s Primrose design with yellow primroses, I knew it was going to be the wallpaper in my mudroom (see below), but it wasn’t easy to acquire. Little Greene does not ship to the states, so I did a work around. I found the wallpaper through Tallantyre Interiors (also a business in the UK – they have an interior design shop one TSLL reader shared is highly worth going to in Northumberland), and they gladly shipped me the wallpaper, having it arrive in fewer than seven days. I could not have been more grateful.
Little Greene also sells paints which are wonderful in the variety of shades and subtle differing hues. If you live in the United Kingdom, this is definitely a business to check out for your next decor project whether wallpapering or painting the walls.
While a UK company, Scion’s wallpaper and textile designs are Scandi-inspired, so more modern in their aesthetic and offerings. They offer lovely muted tones with subtle prints as well as stripes, woodland scenes – large and small, as well as brillliant colorful displays.
Ashanti design, more colors available
Bark design, more colors available
The first ever Zoffany collection was based on the reproduction of historic wallcoverings from Temple Newsam, a Tudor-Jacobean country house in Leeds, Yorkshire. Founded over three decades ago, Zoffany is known as a luxury design firm and focuses on recreating designs (both textiles and wallpapers) known for their elegance.
Colefax & Fowler, a pillar in the textile and interior design community is run under the umbrella of Cowtan & Tout. With headquarters in London as well as New York City, you will be able to find and have shipped what you need wherever you are (however, a direct email may be needed). While their fabrics and wallpapers are not cheap, they are high quality and an absolutely luxurious statement to your home decor. You can find their wallpaper as well through Wallpaper Direct.
As you can see below, the designs are highly sophisticated, subtle and timeless. I have been working on customizing some furniture with their fabric, and while I ran into a hiccup with the pandemic, I am hoping to show what I have chosen soon. Needless to say, a wortwhile investment as they are well made. Look for new collections of designs each season.
Kenton Trelis design (more colors)
Penfold Stripe (more colors)
Osborn & Little is a highly trusted and well-known wallpaper and textile firm in Britain. With lines by the much beloved interior designer Nina Campbell and Matthew Williamson, Osborn & Little offers chic, sophisticated, as well as timeless designs.
Nina Campbell’s Colbert (French-inspired) (more colors)
Chambray, linen (more colors)
If you are looking for wallpaper that has origins in the Victorian period (1837-1901), The Victorian Museum is the wallpaper shop for you. Traced back to particular periods within and around the Victorian era, their wallpaper is vintage in design and has available decorative (architectural) design, animal, insect, plant and wildlife prints, flowers and botanicals and much more. Be sure to check out all of their offerings.
Paradise Birds, more colors (UK delivery only)
Coleridge design, more colors
11. de Gournay
When I first posted this list, one company that a commenter made clear he was shocked I didn’t included was the aforementioned de Gournay, and with good reason – for his dismay and my not including. Well, maybe not the latter, but do let me explain.
Founded in 1986 by Claud Cecil Gurney due to the necessity of being unable to find “experts to restore the antique Chinoiserie wallpaper in his family home”, while often assumed to be French (I will admit making that error in the past), indeed de Gournay is a British company, and all of the wallpaper is hand-painted. In other words, you will be adding art to your home when you select any of the de Gournay designs. And it will be an investment, but an investment worth every penny if indeed it is in your budget. For most of us, de Gournay is but a dream, but oh, what beautiful dreams can be found in their collections. With fabrics and porcelain also available, it is their wallpaper however that is what began and built the company’s name.
~New Garden by Michael S. Smith for de Gournay~
12. C.F.A. Voysey
The company C.F.A. Voysey is located in Vancouver, Canada; however, I felt it was important to introduce you to this company as all of their designs are refurbished original patterns created by the famous English architect and pattern designer Charles F. A. Voysey (1857-1941). Voysey also designed furniture during his lifetime, and it was during the Arts & Crafts era, inspired by William Morris, but also he contributed significantly to the more modern style also known as British Art Nouveau.
I happened upon CFA Voysey while searching for wallpaper for my office. Wanting a distinct print in the Arts & Crafts aesthetic, when I first came across Voysey’s designs they reminded me of William Morris, so I quickly explored further to find a print that worked with my vision for the space.
While I haven’t yet given a full tour of my office (I am still waiting on flooring to be updated and want to add window treatments as well), the wallpaper I selected and love is Bird & Butterfly (the latter for obvious reasons – Le Papillon! after all ?). You can see a glimpse of the print here behind my tea table in the IG post below, and a full two wall view in September 2021’s A Cuppa Moments w/Shannon video.
Wallpaper transforms a room.
With so many choices, it can at first be overwhelming, but once you become clear about the energy and function of the room, as well as the overall aesthetic you are working with throughout your home, the narrowing down begins to take place. Always be sure to order samples. Many times they will ship the samples for free, but even if you have to pay $2-7, it will be worth it for the investment you are about to embark upon.
If you are new to wallpapering, please rest assured, you can do it. I have now wallpapered three different rooms, two on my own, and with good help on my first go-round, each following project went well even though it was just me. Here is a detailed post which will share in detail how to be successful in your wallpapering project.
Wishing the creation of your sanctuary goes well and offers a fun and memorable journey.
The Arts & Crafts Guest Bathroom Reveal (TSLL Home Tour)