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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Using Wall Paper To Cover Walls

( Originally Published 1935 )

Wall paper has some important advantages. It can supply pattern and texture, both of which are necessary at times. Wall paper is very useful in covering imperfect surfaces. Appropriately chosen wall paper has a cozy, friendly quality. Its patterns can improve poor proportions, stripes adding either height or breadth as needed. Paper of several colors in a hall can provide transition by combining the colors of the rooms around it. Paper is inexpensive also-acceptable wall paper is available at ten cents a roll. It is better to pay more, if possible, because the more costly paper not only is more easily handled and wears better than the cheaper but also includes more desirable patterns.

Wall paper may be smooth or rough in texture. Smooth paper is often less interesting than rough, but is also less expensive. The rough paper is usually pressed or embossed to give it textural quality. Papers that do not imitate plaster or cloth but are rough just to add textural interest are preferable. Very rough paper may be used with large furniture and in large rooms. Rather smooth paper is desirable with fine furniture and in small rooms. Smooth papers, particularly those that are decorated with gilt or silver, sometimes reflect light unpleasantly.

Patterns in wall paper are of two kinds-background or decoration.

Background patterns are those in which the patterns are so inconspicuous that they are not noticeable in the room and are therefore usually good, such as:

1. Small pattern effects in two tones, using dots, stripes, diamonds, or squares-the best choice for most purposes.
2. Faint hair stripes in two colors, as cream and gray-good.
3. Stippled effects-delightful for living rooms.
4. Imitations of weaves, two-tone-moderately good.
5. Imitations of plaster-poor if conspicuous, never very good.
6. Imitation grass cloth-good.

Decorative patterns are those that show definite pattern when seen on the wall. A large percentage of decorative patterned wall paper is poor in design and color. The untrained person who selects paper should realize that the papers that appear pretty and colorful in the sample books will look very poor on the walls, whereas the ones that seem more simple and uninteresting in samples will look much better in use. The safe way to select a paper is to secure several different rolls of paper, pin them up on the wall that is to be papered, and compare them.

Scenic Wall Paper. All pictorial paper is questionable as to artistic merit. Pictures belong properly in frames and not repeated over a wall surface. Scenic paper is often used with period furniture and furnishings where it is historically authentic, however. Halls and dining rooms where people do not remain long seem to be favorite places for its use. The person who must have scenic paper should treat it with proper respect and have very little else in the room. There should be no high furniture to cut off the buggy or horse in the wrong place, and an effort should be made to fit the motif to the wall spaces. Since there is no restraint on pictorial quality, the color should be confined to brown or gray. Landscape panels are usually better designed than scenic wall paper. Some Chinese landscape papers are very much more pleasing than other pictorial papers. Copies of fine old Chinese papers are sometimes obtainable. A room with scenic paper is so completely furnished that it does not seem to need furniture or people. Cream, putty color, or the background color are desirable for woodwork with these papers.

These suggestions may be helpful in the selection of decorative wall papers:

1. Avoid a spotty effect, which is usually caused by some motifs that are darker than the background.

2. Avoid figures that are out of scale. Small patterns suit a small room; larger patterns are better in a large room.

3. Avoid natural-looking designs, as vine motifs, plants, landscapes, animals, houses, and people. Natural forms do not usually appear in good design.

4. Avoid mixed motifs, such as those with partly delicate and partly bold figures.

5. Avoid strong diagonals; they destroy the architectural unity of a room.

6. Avoid papers that do not seem to lie flat on the wall. Threedimensional forms make the wall appear weak.

7. Avoid contrasting colors. Close relations in hues and values are necessary. Two-tone effects are best.

8. Avoid brocade and satin stripes and medallions.

9. Avoid patterns that are busy, as they suggest restless activity.

10. Avoid patterns inconsistent with the type of furniture in the room.

Washable Papers and Oil Cloth. Washable wall papers and dull oilcloth wall coverings are now made in excellent designs for use in any room. To many home makers the durability of the material is worth the extra initial cost. With wall treatments that cost less, however, there can be more frequent changes.

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