Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

10.27.2008

Universally Loved Wallpaper



Hand-painted 18th-century Chinese wallpaper -- or newer designs inspired by it -- seems to be one thing everyone can endorse. People of all ages and political persuasions love it. The paper makes a wonderful foil for sleek mid-century furniture (a look mastered in the 20th century by Billy Haines and done more recently, shown directly above, by North Carolina designer Barrie Benson). But of course it rocks in stately houses.

When Nancy Reagan, a longtime fan of Haines, moved to the White House in 1981, she sought guidance from his firm, William Haines Inc. By then Haines had passed away; associate Ted Graber, who had inherited the business, worked with Mrs. Reagan. For her master bedroom, they selected iconic Chinese wallpaper. 


Although at times very traditional, the Haines look is never fussy. Note the tailored headboard, slightly larger lamps with drum shades, and clean-lined valances at the windows. Haines' style is said to have resonated with California couples like Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and their close friends Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg, and Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale, because Haines successfully combined rugged, modern elements with softer feminine pieces.

The Reagan images are courtesy Architectural Digest. For more views of White House interiors, visit the "unofficial" White House Museum.

The Benson image is courtesy domino, and the two images at the top show antique wallpaper installed by Haines at Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador's residence in London, circa 1969.


For more on Haines see William Haines Designs or Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator.

22 comments:

Ivy Lane said...

I really like how the wallpaper sets off the mid cent. mod. furniture! and The Reagan's bedroom in the white house...beautiful! I don't see what all the fuss could have been about.

Style Court said...

Hi Ivy -- the cost was the issue :)

The cost of the whole project, that is. According to a PBS documentary most of the re-decorating was privately funded but a story took hold in the press that suggested Mrs. Reagan was spending mainly tax payer funds.

Ivy Lane said...

Ohhh.... I see...well... that probably was so scandalous back then!! I wonder what they would have done if Nancy went out and spent $150,000 on her campaign wardrobe!

susieq said...

Courtney, do you have recommendations for us non-Nancys who have teensy weensy budgets? I want the hand-painted muralish look for my foyer, but want to find it in a non-custom wallpaper. Domino featured a butterfly-patterned wallpaper in a kitchen maybe a year ago. But I don't like the stark, white background on this paper. I prefer the saturated colors and layered imagery of the good stuff. I can see it paired with a mid-century lantern or orb chandelier. Any ideas?

Style Court said...

Hi Susie! It's a great question.

Wallpaper alternatives are harder, for me at least, to find than fabric substitutes. I'm still searching for something similar to the styles shown here. Readers email about it all the time! I'll let you know.

Mrs. Blandings said...

The images with a bit of distance remind me a bit of that Schumacher paper that - someone young and fabulous - used that was in domino not too long ago. I have a sample of the paper and it's not similar to a hand painted one - but it has the same airy feel with butterflies. More modern.

Style Court said...

Hi Patricia -- I think you might mean Chassie Post's apartment?

beachbungalow8 said...

can you imagine the craftsmanship behind this sort of art?

the green is fabulous.
love the painted crown molding.
love that chair and coffee table in the second photo.

Style Court said...

Megan -- I know!

Karena said...

So fabulous, yet yes very expensive! Of course Mrs. Blandings did those gorgeous silver leaf vines. Patricia are you available?

kelly said...

oh, courtney! how i love this wallpaper... it never gets old. :)

Style Court said...

Good memory Karena!

Style Court said...

Kelly -- same here. Guess that's why domino chose it for the book cover :)

stacy McCallum said...

So pretty, I just spent last night on the gracie website mentally trying to justify buying two panels for a room that does not yet exist and then trying to explain it to my finance oriented husband. No purchase was made.

Style Court said...

Stacy check http://www.thedecoratorssecret.com from time to time

stacy said...

Great source thank you so much. I'll keep it in my ever growing list!

balsamfir said...

I love these handpainted wallpapers, but have the same budget problems as everyone else. I thought Mrs. Blandings had a very good idea when she silver leafed her wall. Paint is even cheaper, and I've almost decided that the next time I can clear a room of furniture, I'm going to staple canvas on it and go to town. This may take a few years, and of course if I win a jackpot, I'll certainly order de Gournay in green.

Anonymous said...

knock yourself out: http://www.degournay.com/

:)

love the blog!

Style Court said...

Thanks Anon! In case this helps anyone, I've got de Gournay and Gracie labels in the sidebar. Click and you will find related past posts.

annechovie said...

Courtney~
I am always drawn to any room with this type of wallpaper. Love the delicate, classic look. One day I want to do at least one focal point wall this way. I would have trouble deciding on the background color, though. I love the green, the pink and the orange. But then there's yellow and blue, too.... hmmm.

Style Court said...

Anne -- I love all of the background colors you just described!

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