Scene Stealers

Scenic wallpapers were once only the domain of the well-to-do. Today they offer a dramatic dose of tradition and elegance for anyone.

This glam silver bed begs the question, do you need a grand room with stately panelling and furnishings to make scenic papers work, or does it in fact, make the room grander just by being there?

Monochrome, sepia-tone wallpaper takes things down a notch, but still places a jungle canopy squarely inside a London hotel. Part of the allure of scenic paper is their ability to wrap you in colour and fantasy and transport you to a place that bears no relation to anything you would see outside your window.

Such as a Rajasthani elephant. Although technically this is a water scene, so apropos in a bathroom.

And who wouldn’t want to be transported out of the laundry room? This print is similar to a famous, hand-painted Gracie pattern (de Gournay and Zuber are two other venerable hand-painted wallpaper brands).

Chic heiresses like Aerin Lauder (above), the granddaughter of Estée, remembers Gracie wallpaper hanging in her grandmother’s apartment and followed suit in the boudoir of her Park Avenue digs.

Here is a genuine Gracie sample, in all its opulent, hand-painted glory — but that’s the whole idea behind scenic wallpapers: they mimic the painstaking work of an artist’s hand.

Which is what makes Rufus Porter’s work so ironic. In the 1900s he travelled all over New Hampshire, daubing insta-landscapes on tavern walls and parlours in a few hours for those who couldn’t afford wallpaper, and along the way proved to be a real Renaissance man (he invented the revolver, founded Scientific American magazine and dabbled in early photography and aeronautics). Now that’s vision.

View our Wallpapered Rooms photo gallery for more inspiration.

Photo credits:
1. Sarah Rosenhaus Interior Design
2. Condé Nast Traveler
3. Knight Moves blog
4. Gingiber blog
5. Harper’s Bazaar, photography by Anders Overgaard, via The Posh Space blog
6. A Flippen Life blog
7. MB Historic Décor

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