Vintage wallpaper is hard to come by – unless you buy a house with it already stuck on. (Lucky!) And even if you do come across some rolls, it’s usually way overpriced because of its rarity (Bradbury & Bradbury anyone?). However, small scraps of wallpaper aren’t hard to find at all! So where does that leave us?
Take your wallpaper scraps, frame them, and hang ’em on the wall. Done.
Of course, don’t limit yourself to wallpaper – fabric, carpet, leftover vinyl from your great aunt’s kitchen floor, or scrap contact paper from a drawer liner would work just as well!
To frame your scrap pattern, purchase some wooden molding from a hardware store. Pick a color from the pattern, and paint the molding in that shade (or stain it – if the color you want happens to be brown). Measure your scrap, cut the molding to length, and nail it together. Finally, make sure you screw a piece of masonite (or similar material) to the back of your frame.
If you don’t want a border around your panel, you can buy stretcher bars from a local art store and hang your panel like a canvas. However, don’t try this with wallpaper; you will need a material that will stretch, like fabric.
As a final note, I would recommend not hanging just one panel in a room – hang at least two in the same pattern. Repeating patterns throughout a room will pull the whole room together.
All the images in this post come from Better Homes and Garden’s Decorating Ideas Under $100. (Bet you could have guessed that one).
Vintage contact paper is hard to come by. So is modern contact paper with retro patterns. Thus, let’s consider this a gallery of inspirational images rather than a modern home decorating tip.
The background of the above shelves are done over in Con-Tact’s “CINDY” pattern (in the circle).
Con-Tact also sold textured contact paper – essentially fabric with a self-adhesive back:
“Quick Changing Front Panels”
It looks like these women are putting contact paper on their kitchen appliances. It’s hard to tell. Tappan ads calls them “quick changing front panels” (below) and Frigidaire refers to them as “designer doors” (above) so maybe not. Both images are from 1968.
Visit retronaut.co to view more images of Con-Tact brand contact paper:
If you are unsure of how to decide on the color and shape of a supergraphic, why not draw your inspiration from a pattern already in the room? The supergraphics in this post are scaled copies of patterns found on bedspreads and throw pillows.
In order to accurately transfer the graphic, there are a few strategies that you can use. You can tack a string grid onto your wall, and reference a smaller scaled sketch (see below). Or if you have access to an overhead projector, you can freehand the pattern on a transparency with an overhead marker, or take a photograph of the fabric and have it printed on a transparancy. The main factor that you will have to decide on is scale (aka. how much you want to enlarge the pattern). Whatever you do, make sure to use painter’s tape for crisp paint lines!
Citations and Notes
The first image in this post comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book (1975), and the last two are from Family Creative Workshop Volume 19 (1975). And keep in mind, this is another process you can implement to create rooms with heavily repeated patterns (see this post) – especially if you don’t have enough yards of a vintage fabric to go the distance. Just use paint!