Anyone with a passing knowledge of Oliver Cromwell’s Puritanical rule knew he banned all manner of “frivolous” activities, but did you know this included the act of hanging wallpaper?
Luckily for us, after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 the paper manufacturing industry grew. In 1785, machines printing coloured tints on sheets of paper meant wallpaper could be produced on a mass scale.
Those with an eye for the latest interior fashions looked to the East for ideas. One 18th century trend was for Oriental flowers and birds printed on luxurious silk.
The fresh, spring-like appeal of Chinese florals continues today: browse our selection of Floral prints to find delicate designs that complement sunny bedrooms and bathrooms.
Murals of landscapes, skylines and space travel, all popular on the walls of modern businesses today, reflect early wallpaper fashions. The 18th century popularity for landscaping gardens and European travel meant that historic houses hung huge scenes of epic mountains, mysterious forests and ancient ruins in indoor settings – the first attempts to “bring the outside in”, a modern trend we’ve already explored here.
Fast-forward 300 years and Printmywallpaper offers stimulating murals on a similar scale, such as the world maps above: browse our LANDSCAPE archive for prints to inspire your employees, customers and family members with historic tastes.
Need inspiration in a dull, colourless room? Don’t paper over the past: bring history to life using our guide to historic wallpapers:
Part One: From majestic Medieval fabrics to Regal Renaissance styles
William Morris, perhaps history’s most famous wallpaper artist, once advised budding Victorian designers to: “Think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home”.
Morris understood that whether a delicate pattern, textured effect or epic mural, a dynamic wallpaper can cast magic over uninspiring spaces.
With the Geffrye Museum recently celebrating the art of wallpapering in their temporary exhibition, ‘The Craft of Wallpaper’, it has never been so fashionable to look to past prints for current creativeness.
In the first of a series, we chart the beginnings of wallpaper design and along the way, find designs to complement tastes old and new in our extensive print range.
The Regal Renaissance
The fashion for wall fabrics began in the Middle Ages and flourished in Renaissance Europe, with elite families showing off their wealth by hanging huge embroidered tapestries in their dark halls of regal topics – hunting, feasting or religious scenes – which guaranteed to impress visitors.
Those with less money turned to hand-printed wallpaper to brighten up their dwellings (this thrifty choice also doubled-up as home insulation). Very few of these wallpaper samples survive, but check out the Victoria and Albert Museum’s fascinating online wallpaper archive to see more.
The popularity of these earliest European designs – deep, warm colours depicting traditional and romantic motifs – lives on today in our prints. These are perfect in all sorts of domestic and public spaces: try our regal pattern to add grandeur to a beamed pub room or a Deep Damask Pattern to bring creative warmth to a lacklustre living room.