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A Change In Wall Paper Tastes

Apr 13, 2008
Do you remember that hideous trend in the eighties for chintz? Every surface, from wall coverings to curtains, from cushions to sofa covers and bedding was covered in flowery fabric with a soft sheen that made you feel like you were laying in the Garden of Eden.

I have to hold my hands up and admit I was party to this fashion, albeit in a small way. We all thought our flowery pastel wall covering looked classy but the real word we should have been looking for is horrible. Or we could choose horrendous, horrific, ghastly, nasty, repulsive or atrocious. Ok, this may be a little strong but look at it! What were we thinking?

This may seem a tad unfair as interior fashions come and go like any other trend and what seems the bees knees today will be tomorrows vomit stimulator. After the chintz area, interior wall covering trends took a large swing in the opposite direction leading to an era of smooth plastered walls in neutral colours, giving us all time to get over the madness induced by the array of colours and flowers from the chintz fest.

This era lasted for quite some time but many of us are leaning back towards the warmer wall covering of paper.

Of course, things have taken a turn with new technologies and we no longer have to just accept what the local DIY store has to offer. What we can now put on walls only knows the bounds of our imagination.

Wall coverings made of linen and silk are not as new as they may seem. Victorians were lovers of this type of thing but it was only for the wealthy back then. Nowadays it is accessible to all.

Digital technology has done its bit in bringing the outside in. Digital photos can be enlarged, altered, added to and enhanced in all sorts of ways to end up as a wall covering that is completely unique. Many people choose nature as a way of enhancing their rooms with enlarged pictures of greenery on their walls. No, this is not chintz, this is new wave natural look that is supposed to instil inner tranquillity and calm.

Andy Warhol type designs have been used for those who want something 'unique' but have no imagination of their own. This is when we take a picture of our child and have it coloured in with hideously garish colours, blown to gigantic proportions and placed on a 'blank wall canvas'. Please remember parents, that it is only us that thinks our chubby faced baby is cute and as a wall covering it really doesn't cut it.

Of course, it's not so long ago that wall coverings made of paper just wouldn't be dreamt about near water. The only type that could be used in a kitchen that could withstand the steam and water involved, were those ugly, thick vinyl wall papers that were always designed to look like tiles. Why not just use tiles?

Now we have the introduction of water proof paper that allows us to bring real paper wall coverings into the kitchen and even the bathroom. Again, this comes with the choice of absolutely any picture or design we wish.

Looking for a step back to nature? It is now possible to use scanning techniques that not only copy the image but can actually pick up enough detail to create wall paper that looks like it has texture. This is useful if we want to make a feature of a wall that looks like tree bark or elephant skin. Tasteful!
About the Author
Interior design expert Catherine Harvey looks at new ideas in wall coverings for interiors.
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