When you think of wallpaper do you think of a floral print in your grandmother’s kitchen, or do you imagine a chic accent wall in your friend’s bedroom? In 2021, either is completely valid! They say if you wait long enough that old trends always circle back around, and wallpaper is the perfect example of this. From the 16th century to now, wallpaper has had great success in remaining relevant in popular interior design trends.
The 16th and 17th Centuries
Wallpaper first came around the 16th century as a form of interior design that was typically used only within cabinets and cupboards. At this time, wallpaper was seen as somewhat of a luxury. The installation process was very tedious as each piece was only about 16 inches long. Due to the small size of each piece, it took, on average, 4 weeks to complete the installation. During the 17th century, however, wallpaper became more popular as it began to be sold in big sheets that could cover more surface area. With wallpaper installation becoming a more easily accessible design tool, the trend took off during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The 18th and 19th Centuries
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the wallpaper industry was booming in Britain, leading to the introduction of a wallpaper tax. The government saw how high the demand for wallpaper was becoming, and they knew that this could be a very profitable tax to have in place. Despite the newly implemented tax and rising prices of wallpaper, the demand was higher than ever before. It was typically made by hand, and the installation required the help of a skilled laborer. It wasn’t until 1839 that Potters & Ross created the first-ever wallpaper production machine which allowed it to be created in mass quantities. This machine printed designs onto a material known as calico, and it allowed wallpaper production in Britain to increase (in under 30 years) from 1 million to 9 million rolls.
In the late 1800s to mid 1900s, wallpaper became a bit more affordable and it featured mainly Victorian style patterns. With more affordable options on the market, production climbed to roughly 100 million rolls in the 1930s. Wallpaper became extremely popular in nursery designs, and homeowners began using it in new, creative ways such as accent walls. The colors used in this era of wallpaper were usually darker as those purchasing this expensive commodity wanted it to remain in good condition through the wear-and-tear of everyday life in the home.
Wallpaper in Modern Times
In the 1960s, we entered an age of DIY (do it yourself) interior designing. With this came cheaper, easier to install types of wallpaper on the market. Around this time there was also a significant shift in the features of popular wallpaper designs. Popular designs shifted from darker, Victorian patterns to brighter, floral patterns.
Today, wallpaper is making a comeback yet again. In the early 2000s, its popularity dwindled up until the production of digitally printed, “Stick-And-Peel” wallpaper. Many of these options are extremely affordable, simple to install, and even renter-friendly, opening up the product to a new market! Designs range from vivid, colorful designs to neutral, understated looks. Wallpaper is popularly used for accent walls all over the home (bathrooms, bedrooms, nurseries, home offices, etc.) and it made a huge comeback in 2019, specifically.