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Patterns in the USA

Meet the newest Cavern intern: the very talented Karli Hendrickson.  Karli and her friend Amelia just began a road trip that will take them across the country, from Connecticut to the Pacific, and back again.  She will be sending me pattern inspiration along the way.  To start, a pattern she saw in a thrift shop in Connecticut.

Best of luck to Karli and Amelia.  We all look forward to sharing your journey!

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Top 10 Reasons to Wallpaper

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With so many design options for your walls, the decision to wallpaper might be hard to make.  So without further ado, here are the top ten reasons to use wallpaper:

1.  Patterns give character to your room and make it much more interesting.  By their very nature, patterns catch people’s attention and invite them to look closer.

2.  Wallpaper gives a high-end, sophisticated attitude to your room — even if you only wallpaper one wall, or part of a wall.

3.  A wallpapered wall suggests a sense of permanence and establishment.  It tells anyone who sees your space that you are confident making decisions and know what you like.

4.  Wallpaper truly brings a room together.  If you coordinate with the furniture, floors, and other design themes, your pattern will unify the space.

5.  It will add punch to a room (or wall) and separate it from the other rooms in your house.  Especially in apartments, it is very important to make each room its own distinct space — it will feel much bigger, more functional, and relaxing.

6.  It will make your living space feel (and be) more your own.  As wallpaper is not as common as paint colors, you will most likely not see your pattern anywhere else throughout the course of your day.  When you return home, it will feel like your private sanctuary– which it is.

7.  Wallpaper can solve design problems.  If a space is too small, get some tromp l’oeil wallpaper that make your eye extend beyond the enclosed space.  If your ceiling is too high, wallpaper it and it will feel lower.

8.  In general, wallpaper increases the “cozy” factor of a room.  Regardless of style, wallpapering walls is like putting on a light sweater: comforting.

9.  Wallpaper sets mood.  No other design choice can so greatly influence the tone of a room; your walls are your largest canvas.

10.  Wallpaper will not only make your room more interesting– it will make you more interesting as well!  Just watch: all of your guests will inevitably ask about where you found the paper and how you hung it.  As they rave about your decision, you will not only enjoy the easy conversation starter but also feel the deeper satisfaction that comes with quality home improvement and personal design expression.

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General, Wallpaper History

Historic Wallpapers :: Adelphi Paper Hangers

For anyone truly interested in wallpaper history, you should know about Adlephi Paper Hangers, the premiere wallpaper house dedicated to historically accurate patterns and production.  Emphasizing eighteenth and nineteenth century papers, their collection includes wallpapers from institutions such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Smithsonian Institute.  Adelphi also researches and designs custom jobs for any individuals who have any  documents or wallpaper scraps of an old design.  Their wallpaper are made with the old fashioned wood block method.  In fact, Adelphi operates the only bloc printing facility dedicated to producing vintage patterns in the United States!  Very inspiring.

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Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is one of the most successful young artists on the scene today.  His work shows a distinct interest in patterns, and serve as yet another example of the intersection of wallpaper and fine art.  Wiley is known for portraying modern African American men in heroic portraits, often overtly referencing masterpieces of the Western cannon.  I am struck by how he uses colorful, graphic patterns to balance the strongly portrayed figures.  It’s almost as if he uses wallpapers as backgrounds for his subjects, removing them from ordinary space and instead placing them with abstracted, fantastic backdrops that express their strong, vibrant, youthful personalities.  Kehinde’s color pallet is bold, his patterns engaging.  Amazing, amazing work.

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Objects on Wallpaper

Wallpapers can serve as a background or foreground design element in a room.  If it weren’t obvious already, I am personally most excited about graphic patterns that stretch the limits of traditional wallpaper patterns.  But the decision to hang pictures or other items on top of wallpaper is still a relevant one.  What can you hang on a wallpapered wall?  When should wallpaper stand alone?  Inspired by my favorite design book, here is my simple overview.

It’s all about balance.  First, think color.  If your wallpaper is extremely colorful (more than four colors), then anything you hang should be very very simple: a mirror, a simple photograph.  On the other hand, if the wallpaper is simply one or two colors, you have more liberty to hang intricate, colorful objects.  Whatever the objects, make sure their colors match not only the wallpaper but the rest of your room.

Next consider size.  If the pattern is full of small elements, your hanging objects should be of medium to large size.  You should not have too many hanging pieces either.  If the wallpaper repeat is large-scale, you have much more freedom to hang smaller objects- and more of them.

Finally, choose your wall composition– where to hang your objects.  Each wall and room is different, but overall, you will need fewer objects than you normally would hang.  Wallpaper attracts attention on its own; you don’t want to over-do it with hanging objects.

The idea of nailing holes into your beautiful wallpaper is somewhat frightening — but that’s not a good reason to dismiss hanging objects!  When successful, the combination of wallpaper and objects can make the most sophisticated, impressive design choice in a room.

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Better Homes and Gardens, helping home makers fifty years later.

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The pattern is quite busy and there is lots of it.  This large scale picture (with only a few colors) works well.  Nicely balanced.

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With the small pattern repeat, these medium/large sized objects look great.  Photo from Domino (RIP!)

BlackbirdWith its large scale and dynamic composition, “Blackbird” is usually best on its own.

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