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Wallpaper art

Wallpaper is an often overlooked art form. Through its textures, colours and patterns, it provides an air of individuality that paint can never match. As a result it spectacularly changes the feel of a room, even if it’s only applied to one ‘feature’ wall.

Although probably first developed in China around the 3rd century AD, the first handmade decorated paper didn’t appear in Europe until the 16th century. Early wallpapers were produced using wooden printing blocks and were generally simple black-on-white patterns; the designs frequently imitating more expensive materials such as silk or damask. With time the patterns became ever more elaborate and many of the printing blocks are works of art in themselves. To make up the complete pattern, the printing process had to be repeated with a different block for each colour so great skill and precision was needed to ensure they were exactly aligned.

In Georgian times flock wallpaper was highly fashionable while imported hand painted Chinese papers were the most sought after of all. After 1839, when a Lancashire firm, Potters of Darwen, manufactured the first continuous machine made wallpaper, the product became more affordable and the Victorian age saw an increasingly wide diversity of designs.

These days wallpaper is enjoying renewed popularity and there is something to suit ever type of home and personal taste. The appropriately named I Love Wallpaper offers products by colour, finish and style with everything from traditional to retro, along with wallpapers featuring the latest printing techniques and patterns by some of today’s top interior designers.

Preparing a wall for a new paper can sometimes reveal the decorative schemes of the past. Often layers of paper have been pasted on top of one another and, although we may curse because they’re hard to remove, it’s worth remembering that this is a chance to step back in time, so try to strip them off the wall carefully and in sequence. Either keep them in a stiff backed envelope as part of the history of the house or, better still, frame the best examples and hang them on the wall to contrast with your new wallpaper.

post in association with I Love Wallpaper