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Makeover with wallpaper

Makeover with wallpaper

Portobello (custom monochromatic design colours on Scarlet Lady dyed silk) from the Chinoiserie collection [Photo/De Gournay]

Want to transform your home into a cosy space you can sink into after a hard day's work? Keep cool – and hang some gorgeous wallpaper.

"Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls; for they are that which makes your house and home; and if you don't make some sacrifice in their favour, you will find that your chambers have a kind of makeshift lodging appearance about them, however rich and handsome your movables may be," wrote William Morris, the famed 19th-century English textile designer. Indeed, walls immediately set the tone of an interior. Just as foundation make-up can change someone’s face, colours and patterns can give a completely new dynamic to a space. Furthermore, wallpaper says a lot about the homeowner's taste and character. Let's take a whirlwind tour of its tumultuous history and choose the one that will reveal your inner beauty.

The history of European wallpaper dates back in the 16th century, when the first domino papers – poster-size sheets of paper printed with wooden blocks and painted with stencils – were made. "They first represented religious images, such as biblical figures with the Latin invocation O domino written underneath," explains Véronique de la Hougue, chief curator of the wallpaper department at the French museum for Decorative Arts. "They were hung on walls like paintings. Secular images such as a garland of flowers, a fruit or a leaf appeared later at the end of the 17th century. These patterns were printed over several sheets of paper that had to be joined together – and this was the beginning of wallpaper."

These refined, fragile pieces of paper were used in small, intimate rooms such as a corridor, an alcove or a cabinet, while state rooms were still covered by large tapestries as they had been in the Middle Ages. Dominos also lined the insides of furniture, coffers, boxes and bound paperback books. In the 1750s, It girl Madame de Pompadour (Louis XV's favourite), who was a huge fan of wallpaper, fully adorned her dressing room in Versailles with these colourful papers. "Let's keep in mind that there was no electricity at that time, only natural light and candles," says de la Hougue. "If one shed a modern halogen light in an 18th-century interior, one would be really surprised by the bold terracottas, vivid greens and azure blues applied on the walls."

[ Editor: WPY ]