Mrs. Suzie Porter in her Harlem home. Bespoke wallpaper is an art that has disappeared from most of the regal brownstones in New York City. To the right is a Van Der Zee photo of a Harlem interior with its fantastic wallpaper. In the turn of the century most of the paper would have been made to order and still hand printed by artisans. More commonly preserved in British homes, New York taste seem to shift towards fad too quickly to keep any good example of this art around. Since many are eschewing severe glass condos for brownstones, maybe it is time to look at more historic methods to refinish walls.
In the early 21st century, many still can not distinguish proper period wall paper from the floral 1980's manufactured design offenses. The second image displays a William Morris wallpaper reproduced by Bradbury & Bradbury from an original 1860's pattern. As one can see, the handsome print is graphic, bold and almost geometric but with an organic, botanical repeat. The company, based in California, is considered one of the major suppliers of wallpapers hand printed in the the traditional methods. Another popular early 20th century paper was lincrusta, which was solid, heavily embossed paper that looks like plaster work but more durable. This is actually seen more in old buildings in the New York City area. Bradbury & Bradbury link for website and blog at side bar for more information.