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Pride and Prejudice Decorating with Wallpaper
My wife is celebrating the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by watching every movie of Pride and Prejudice ever made (several times:). I can’t help but notice the improved quality of the set decoration from the 1940s until the most recent Kiera Knightly production. If you’re interested in recreating a Bennett country manor room or a 19th century drawing room, now is the BEST time to do it because 19th century wallpaper is being made today.

Pride and Prejudice Wallpaper

About 19th century-like wallpaper

A little history… 19th century wallpaper was handmade rag paper with hand brushed ground color and wood block tempera inks.  Tempera inks are water based and very sensitive so installers had to be very careful not to get moisture on the surface of the wallpaper. The wallpapers had to be trimmed on both sides since they did not have continuous roll paper. Edges were hand trimmed and seams lapped to match the same size of the horizontal joints. Most installations had borders at the top, bottom and in the corners, around all the trim, to hold the edges of the paper down.

Jump to today

We are moving back to 19th century-like wallpaper because it is less expensive to make non-coated papers and laser cut acrylic blocks make block printing possible. Also, American manufacturers are struggling to keep inventory. Our European friends seem not to have the same inventory problem and their papers are cheaper to produce. How does this impact you? When you select your Jane Austen room wallpaper, always ask: does the paper need to be trimmed? Is it water sensitive? Where is it made?

Seriously now, if you would like to decorate a room with beautiful wallpaper, here are some manufacturers of 19th century patterns:

Adelphi Paperhangings

Cole & Son

Farrow & Ball

Sanderson

 

Dumbarton House Front Parlor

Several times a year I get the opportunity to work in historic houses. Many of these houses, to support themselves, are used for private events like weddings. Here is a room I wallpapered at Dumbarton House in Georgetown (DC). The Front Parlor has an English-style wallpaper treatment. If you’re a Dolly Madison or a Jane Austen fan, this is a perfect setting for weddings. The video to the right is actually me working in the Front Parlor. The photo above shows you the final results.

The wallpaper is from Adelphi Wallpaper and was commissioned especially for Dumbarton from historic patterns. The use of the borders is really interesting because it helps make the trim elements stand out – fireplace, woodwork. All the colors used to make the inks are from natural pigments which creates a warmth and lightness in the room. American domestic interior at it’s best.


I admit it. I watch Downton Abbey. These days most of the wallpaper I install comes from England so I can’t help but be a wallpaper Anglophile.


The authenticity of the set designs show the beautiful wallpaper used during the Edwardian period (100 years ago). These patterns are now available again from wallpapers manufacturers like Farrow & Ball, Cole & Son, Sanderson. Just last week I installed this Silvergate wallpaper from Farrow & Ball in a dining room in private home in Washington, DC.

Thinking of doing some winter time redecorating? Check out my Winter Special!