Virginia's Wallpaper 1915.jpg

A Custom Wallpaper Project

July 14, 2020

Step 1: Research

Virginia's Room in Stan Hywet Hall needs a little love. With the Second Century restoration projects coming to a close, the projects for her room were last, but not least, on the list. The upholstery and drapery fabric from previous restorations are holding up, and match the originals pretty well. What does need to change, though, is the wallpaper.

Right now its all white with an embossed stripe and floral pattern. We have historic images of it being a pink pattern on white ground. We know from historic records, though, that the pink pattern was not the original. Irene Seiberling had the room re-papered in the 1940s.

After months of searching for clues as to what the original paper looked like, I found a roll of excess paper in a miss-marked storage box! I was on a high about this find for days.

The pattern is a distressed gold metallic fleur-de-lis on mock-cracked plaster. Just as people tell me I should return my distressed jeans for having holes in them, I wonder if people told Virginia to return her wallpaper for looking already worn...

Step 2: Action

Now that we know what the wallpaper needs to look like, its time to find a company that can recreate it for us. This should be a relatively easy process since we have a sample we can scan which will tell the company the exact pattern and colorway needed.

I emailed five different wallpaper companies that do custom patterns and am currently waiting to hear back. I'll compare their pricing, schedule, quality, and reviews to decide which one we should go with.

Step 3: try try again...

Three months later...

So it turns out the process is not as easy as I thought it would be (is it ever??). I went though 3 custom wallpaper companies before we found one who said they could do it, and even that one took some convincing...

The pattern on this wallpaper is tricky because the fine cracking pattern in the background is too small and random to screen print, and the fleur-de-lis is metallic, so they can't be digitally printed. The company we ended up using, Bradbury & Bradbury out in California, took another look at the project and decided it could be done as a hybrid process. The crack pattern will be done digitally then they'll go through and screen print the fleur-de-lis on. I'm currently waiting on them to finish up a sample and send it our way. We're hoping to be able to install the paper between January and March of 2021.

Step 4a: Success!

Bradbury sent a few samples over so we could see them in person. The first was our pattern in a non-metallic ink. The second was a metallic ink on our paper, but with a different pattern. Put them together, and we got the perfect combination of the crackle ground pattern, and metallic antiqued fleur-de-lis.

Step 4b: Production

January 2021- Bradbury was kind enough to take pictures of the production process and send them with the final rolls.

Step 5: Installation

March 2021- The collections department prepped the room by clearing out all of the objects and removable furniture. Facilities came in to remove light switch plates and the wall sconces. The room looked so bare without all of the beautiful French style furniture. Then our trusty wallpaper installation contractors came in to do what they do best!

Step 6: Final Staging... coming soon!


Museum Professional. Traveler. Cat lover.

Chloe Wingard