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Mad Men Are Mad About Grass Cloth

Mad Men Are Made About Grass Cloth

My kids, Shields Brothers, have been out in LA working on a new YouTube reality show. They are filming at the same studio as the Mad Men show.  Their thrill – seeing Jon Hamm at craft services.  They got me thinking about the show, Mad Men, and set decorating with wallpaper.  Here’s a good LA Times article about it.  Grass cloth is hot now and it is all over their set.

Mad Men Dining Room Grass Cloth

Over the past six months, I’ve installed more grass cloth than I have installed in the last 15 years. It’s not just Mad Men going mad for grass cloth. All the big designers are carrying exotic grasses and some are even being made with metallic thread. On the Mad Men set, they are using a retro look to replicate the 1960s.  Last week I installed the exact same  grass cloth in a private home library.  At first glance you’d think it wouldn’t work  in a room with an arched bay and 19th century fireplace mantle.  But the grass cloth made a fabulous background for their art, small sculpture and book collection. Very tailored, finished but cozy.

Grass cloth gives real texture to the walls and makes the room warm and doesn’t compete with the furniture or artwork  Recently, I installed grass cloth samples on flats at the Holland & Sherry showroom in Washington, D.C. There’s a lot of nice grass cloth available now. If you looking for suggestions, here are some manufacturers but there are many more:

Philip Jeffries



Brunswick & Fils

Holland & Sherry

Ralph Lauren


2 comments… add one
  • Audrey Jones April 9, 2013, 11:02 pm

    Hi Patrick,
    I read your comments on the faux painting LinkedIn website. While I don’t do wallpaper, I often have requests for creating the painted finish version’.
    Since you are also a decorative artist , what brushes ,products or techniques can you recommend. For me the most realistic look of grass cloth paper is to tape out 3 ft wide sections.
    Thanks. Audrey

    • Patrick Shields April 10, 2013, 12:04 am

      You can make a a nice faux grasscloth by using a drag brush and doing a double strie . A wallpaper smoothing brush also gives a nice look and wrapping it in a tee gives an ever finer strie.Combining this base with a smoothing brush wrapped in steel wool give some interesting knots.
      Each wall should be laid out as if there are seams (about 34″ but find your midpoints and creat even numbers of panels.( no seam less than 22″)
      You can also coat a 34″ section with modeling glaze and push real grasscloth into it to make an impression, let it dry , then glaze it .
      I hope this gives you some ideas .

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