I've long since determined I want patterns from the William Morris line: the house wants the texture of wallpaper and the Morris works best. Now, some people would say, "The economy's going to hell in a handbasket; I won't bother with this wallpaper, I'll just use paint. In fact, I won't even paint my walls, I'll move out into a shack!"
But me, I figure if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it once and do it right. I'll be ordering directly from England: the distributors this side of the Atlantic impose hideous mark-ups, sometimes as much as 300%. When I checked my English sources on-line a couple weeks ago, O deer o deer, I found the per-roll price of these papers has gone up £6 to £9 since I first decided on them in 2003-2004.
Good grief! Between that and the exchange rate, things won't get any more favorable to me if I wait. Besides, Sanderson Fabrics offers some significant price breaks if you order more at one time.
But which papers and colorways will I use?
I've known for years what I want in the dining room: the William Morris "Savernake." It's got a nice overall design, it goes well with the Morris "Strawberry Thief" drapery fabric I got on eBay a year ago, and it's light enough to take advantage of what little light I get in that room. And that's important, because I do most of my reading sitting at the dining room table.
And in the living room, the William Morris "Owen Jones," in a rich red to pick up a color on a painting I did in college.
For a long time I've liked the idea of a cozy red living room, and mine is open enough it won't be overwhelming.
The front room, when its time comes, I'll paint a fresh sage green; there's not enough wall space in there to justify a patterned paper. The kitchen I did up with a sponged finish four years ago and it's fine.
That leaves the stairhall, first floor and second.
For the past four-five years I've lived with a sample of Morris's "Compton" propped up on a wall-hung cabinet, for my contemplation and consideration. I love "Compton," at least I love the fabric version of it. But is this paper too dark and too bold for my stairhall?
What about the more blue-green colorway?
Or considering the whiff of Arts and Crafts medievalism I'm working towards with the encaustic-look tile I'm looking at, maybe Morris' "Blackthorn" would do better. It has a nice overall design, a little more to the scale of my stairhall. It reminds me of the border of an illuminated manuscript! And I already have curtains for the upstairs hall window in the same pattern, not the same colorway, but compatible.
But I wouldn't want "Blackthorn" all over. It'd get too dark and heavy. Maybe just on the lower part, with a new chair rail between and a lighter pattern (the Morris "Acorn," perhaps?) above. And end the "Blackthorn" (or "Compton" or whatever) on the wall at the top of the stairs, and use the lighter-colored paper on the rest of the upstairs hall. I've done some measuring and think it will work, but I'm working bit by bit on some elevations in AutoCAD so I can check for sure.
I ordered my first batch of samples from Sanderson's Fabrics in North Yorkshire on the 23rd, and the second on the 30th. Between then and now I found myself poring over my old "Compton" and "Blackthorn" samples and obsessing over images of the designs that I found on the Internet. Which one, which one? I hated giving up the idea of the "Compton" . . . but then I came across this image on a Canadian distributor's site.
And I'm now thinking uh, no, give it up, girl. I read on somebody's blog that William Morris actually favored large patterns for small spaces, but that doesn't mean I have to. Or can.
So have I decided on the "Blackthorn"? Maybe, maybe . . . though this doesn't help!
Both batches of samples have arrived. The "Owen Jones" is a clearer red than the sample I had before; different, not what I'd got used to, but good. The "Savernake" is a problem, as the current batch is definitely less creamy and more green than what I had before. I'm glad it's not pinky-beige, but is it really a good tint for a dining room? I called Sanderson's in Harrogate early this afternoon and arranged to send them a piece of my old cutting for matching-- I hope, I hope!
And guess what: Turns out I inadvertently asked for a sample of an "Owen Jones" colorway I did not want, and forgot to request the "Blackthorn" I did. Or they made a mistake across the Pond. Either way, I'll need to wait another week or more for it to arrive so I can finally, finally make up my mind.
Meanwhile, I can strip more woodwork and get these stairhall elevations done so I can work out just how much of it I'll need.
And pray that we don't all slide into some great worldwide economic abyss between then and now--or ever.
Yeah, I know that if that happens, I'll have more to worry about than wallpaper. But somehow I feel like I'm snatching this opportunity like rescuing something precious from a burning building. I may get singed, but I have to try.