When I was nine years old my family moved from a 50s bungalow in the country to a late 1960s suburban house in Adelaide. I thought our new house was incredible -“ so big compared to our last one, with so many rooms. But the best thing of all was the wallpaper. Every wall in every room of our new home (except for the feature brick walls in the rumpus room) was covered in lurid late 60s wallpaper.
My bedroom had previously been occupied by a teenage boy. It had a large geometric print wallpaper in shades of blue. The repeated motif was about 30cm across and completely dominated the room. I absolutely loved it. My sisters had a small purple daisy print on one feature wall, and my brother had a brown version of mine. I thought they were all great.
Then suddenly, about five years later, wallpaper became an absolute no-no. I was determined to rid myself of the craziness so, one day, armed with a bucket of soapy water and my dad’s barbecue scraper, I removed every last scrap of the offensive paper from my walls. This was about the time when people stopped wallpapering their homes. Though the local hardware store still stocked some dusty rolls, nobody actually bought them.
The fashion of wallpaper was pass?or so long, I almost came to miss it. Finally the trend to jazz up your walls is making a come-back and wallpaper is being seen in the trendiest of homes.
Amongst other designers,1960s Sydney designer Florence Broadhurst’s vigorous designs for modern living have been rediscovered and are being used throughout the world to enliven rooms in a world tiring of minimalism. A common application of modern wallpapers is to choose a vibrant, often 60s-inspired print for a feature wall and a selection of complementary paint colours and furnishings to avoid the full-on visual assault which was popular in the 60s and 70s. Back then it was cool to match curtains, upholstery and cushions to the wallpaper or even use contrasting patterns, meaning there was no visual relief -“ just a cacophony of colour and pattern.
Nowadays the aim is to use wallpaper as a feature against a more neutral backdrop. That way the actual beauty of the wallpaper can be appreciated without visual distraction. There have been many successful examples of such rooms in recent times. The key is choosing a stunning print which can be easily matched to your furnishings and lifestyle.
I’m thrilled that wallpaper is once again being used in Australian homes, but am nevertheless grateful that the crazy geometric pattern of my childhood bedroom is unlikely to ever enjoy such a renaissance.