Feast your eyes: vintage wallpaper inspiration in the kitchen

July 6 |

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Vintage wallpaper is all that. Loud, bold, unapologetic, and often in every room. I think it's time we take some inspiration from wallpapered days of yore.

Retro wallpaper
Suddenly, I desperately want wallpaper. Were I able to walk into this first photo and harvest it, I'd definitely be working on a pink, pink kitchen this weekend. Photo by Mark Wiewel.

Luxury Kitchens 1976
AHHHH. This kitchen is, like, a Poké Ball-cum-designer inspiration. Shared by ♥threadbare.
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Photo by cookieevans5.
Australian House & Garden 1975
Shared by ♥threadbare.
Vintage Wallpaper
Monica Roddy found this spectacular flowery '70s paper behind the paper she removed in her hall.

So, conclusion: loud vintage wallpaper — heart it or hate it?

  1. I really think that occasionally, wallpaper gets a bad rap. Hyper-graphic wallpaper is sort of awesome. I think the key is probably moderation…
    A little obsessed with: Aimee Wilder and Ferm Living.

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  2. The wallpaper in that first photo is amazing. I would use it in a heartbeat. In small quantities, of course.

    I'm really fond of the delicate wallpaper in the last photo too. It looks to be in lovely condition.

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  3. As much as I love vintage things, I have to say hate it. Each design is SUPER taste specific (unlike a wall painted a solid but bright color) and is a PAIN to remove. Maybe it's from all the weekends spent peeling wallpaper with my mother in EVERY house she or I has ever lived in, but I just can't stand the sight of wallpaper!

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    • Lol, I used to help my mother peel down wallpaper too — I loved it! I actually kind of miss it these days…

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      • My mom is like an effing wallpaper magician. She can put it up virtually seamlessly and make it stay forever, and she can get it down like THAT. So I'm more fond of it than the average bear. :p

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  4. I think vintage wallpaper is fun to look at, but I'm not sure I'd want a whole room papered that way. My mother has hated the vintage wallpaper in her dining room ever since my parents bought the house in 1978, but my father loved it. Now that he's gone, the paper will be going too. I'll be sure to get some pictures first. I think it's charming!

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  5. The pink, white and black kitchen literally caused my breath to catch. I think it is gorgeous, but my husband would die nine thousand deaths before he'd agree to that level of pink in one of the most public rooms in the house. I also think I'd get sick of it pretty quickly.

    I've been thinking a lot about wallpaper lately. Someone really needs to talk me down from that–tell me about removing it. Graphic details are good.

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    • My mother moved into a condo owned by an elderly couple that had some bizarre taste. Everything was 60s and 70s, but not the charming prints we all love. Nay, the kitchen was covered in a cheese mold green paper that was textured like the surface of the moon. The guest bathroom had reflective, silver wallpaper with golden moose watching you shower. The living room… the 12×24' living room had a textured wallpaper that felt like a splintered bamboo mat.

      We spent weeks tearing down the living room. Each night we'd soak sponges and tools and try to coax the paper from the wall. My mother was a master of renovating homes, but this was her Waterloo. Whether it was age or the glue, we don't know, but even with the gentlest of techniques parts of the drywall would come up with the paper. Our fingers were raw from the texture and pulling strands up and out at a time.

      I like wallpaper, but never again!

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      • That is indeed horrifying, though I'd love it if you had a picture of the golden moose to share. The description really did make me laugh out loud.

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  6. I love modern printed wallpaper, but alas, my house has textured walls that won't allow for wallpapering. If anyone's ever successfully smoothed out textured walls in order to apply wallpaper or even successfully applied wallpaper TO textured walls, I'd love to hear how it went.

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    • You have three options. One, for relatively flat texture, they make wallpaper liner. For more texture, you can skim coat your walls, but this is DIY only if you've got mad skills with the drywall compound. Slightly easier but more expensive is to install a layer of 1/4 drywall on top of the existing walls. If you do go with the drywall option, make sure you prime and preprint the drywall before wallpapering. Wallpaper installed directly on raw drywall makes for much unhappiness if you want to remove it later. Like tearing away of the paper of the drywall in chunks. Good luck.

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      • That was also very valuable information. While growing up, my mother and I wallpapered over textured walls all the time, but I never had to remove any of it. *shudder* Sounds ghastly.

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  7. I like vintage wallpaper, because it reminds me of my gran's old house (especially the floral print in the first picture-her kitchen and bathroom had a very similar print).

    I don't think I would use it to paper an entire room, but maybe an accent wall? I like big prints and cheery colours. When my sister was in university she found some wicked mushroom print paper, and cut and paste her fave mushrooms to create a small border for her living room. It looked rad, and I was a bit saddened when she moved apartments.

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    • Re: gran's house — Me too. My gram had amazing huge print velour wallpaper in her entry way. It was gold, metallic…horrible and cool. I wish I'd saved a piece of it somehow.

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  8. my FH and I just bought a house that hasn't been cosmetically updated since 1974. many rooms were wallpapered and no 2 rooms in the same paper (we thought the dining room and hall were the same but one was birds-that-look-like-pineapples and the other was just fruit, same colors). EVERYTHING in this house matches the wallpaper. there were summer and winter drapes in the closet, the same pattern as the wallpaper and there are extra rolls of paper. even the shower curtain matched the wallpaper (side note, who wallpapers a bathroom?) Since it was an estate sale, we inherited the curtains and the extra paper. Much of our next year will be spent getting rid of it all.

    The scariest part for me is that if I'm honest, the pineapple birds have really grown on me.

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    • My landlords. That's who wallpapers a bathroom. But here, it's a bathroom and a half-bath. With blah matching tile. Bathroom upstairs is yellow with yellow/blue/white flowered wallpaper. Downstairs is luckily just one wall, but it's a weird pink/green flower design.

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    • Kaledrina, This sounds amazing. Can you please, please, please link some photos. Especially with the matching curtains. Maybe OBH can host a house tour post or maybe you could just let me gawk at your flicker page? Pretty, pretty please?

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      • We don't have pictures of the matchy curtains up, but I have pictures of the house from the walkthrough right before the closing. Most of the rooms have been changed at least slightly at this point. the dining room remains largely the same and the hall is the same. You can see them here. they really aren't that fabulous, except the pineapple birds. we're keeping one of those in a fram.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/64911907@N02/sets/72157627011325901/

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        • WOW! Those prints are loud,yet romantic. I have to say that I quite like the wall paper prints close up, but a whole room full of it gives me a headache too (esp. the bathrooms! I like bathrooms clean and white).

          I agree with other commenters that bits and pieces of patterned wallpaper or an accent wall are really nice, though.

          ps: this wallpaper made me think of the article about the trend ' put a bird on it'. Apparently they knew this too in the seventies!

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          • I realize it's been months and months, but I had to stop back with an update on our wallpaper. We finally got around to stripping the wallpaper in the dining room and underneath we discovered the name and phone number of the person who last papered it along with the date. We were so wrong, it wasn't a 1970s mistake, the pineapple birds, the fruity print, the matchy curtains… it was a mistake from 1993!

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  9. I *love* vintage & vintage-inspired wallpaper. So much so that I've used it as my kitchen backsplash twice, and a feature wall in a past living room once. If it's done right, it can be amazing. And I agree re: moderation – too much is overkill (not to mention that you'd be hard-pressed to find a huge lot of the vintage stuff) but in small doses it can give a room a lot of character.

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  10. ha! the plaid with flowers is *totally* our kitchen wallpaper's sister. ours is just like it, but with vegetables and kitchen utensils!

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  11. I think I'd have to say in the applications pictured, I hate it. However, some of the wallpaper patterns are pretty in smaller scale (ie, not a whole room/wall). A fun thing to do to add accent colors to a room might be to get a sample of some fun, bold print wallpaper and frame it or use it as backing for a whiteboard like the tutorial posted last week-ish. This post is giving me ideas!

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  12. I LOVE wallpaper! I actually think the bigger and louder it is the better. If you are gonna do it, you might as well make a statement…better than that mauve wallpaper with tiny white flowers all our Moms had in the kitchen in the 90s. Just sayin. I love surprise large scale or crazy wallpaper in say small half baths or closets for a little visual fun. Or just along one wall for a graphic punch instead of art. Yay wallpaper!

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  13. I think I could handle this on ONE or two walls, but all four would be a bit oppressive. I really like the patterns though! It just make spaces feel a little small.

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  14. I kind of love wallpaper as a feature wall – but hate it and wish it would die a thousand painful deaths as a whole room…

    Saying that, when we eventually buy our own house (as you can't redecorate rentals in Aus), I'll be wanting to add some funky wallpaper designs in at least a couple rooms…

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  15. I am deeply in love with the type of vintage wallpaper that looks hand-printed, with the raised paint, in pretty, feminine florals and asian motifs. I hemmed and hawed about repapering after removing FIVE layers of wallpaper from the guest bedroom. Surprisingly, they came off quite easily, with no damage to the underlying plaster. All five layers were lovely pink florals. This room has been a pretty, pink, feminine room for nearly 90 years. I first primed, then painted a very soft pink (keeping to tradition!) But I think the ghost of the lady who first owned the house got into my psyche or something, because the room just… NEEDS something. I've just ordered enough of a gorgeous vintage style rose-and-ribbon stripe to do one wall, and a to-die-for 10" border to go all the way around. Maybe this will lay the dear lady's ghost!

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