Friday, October 10, 2008

Deep Thoughts on a Surface Matter

Now that my woodwork stripping in the front hall has given me an excuse to rip down bits and pieces of Beige Wallpaper, it's time for me to think about replacing it, throughout the first floor.

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!

Though maybe that only applies to the red colorway.

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.


Just A Girl And Her 1911 Craftsman Bungalow said...

owen jones is so lovely

Kate H. said...

Isn't it? It makes a nice marriage between my late-Craftsman woodwork and my imported Victorian mantelpiece.

Sandy said...

The wallpapers are so beautiful. I especially like the one you are going to put in your dining room. I love the pattern and color. The red one reminds me of a home I used to babysit it when I was young. Their living room was done in something similar.

Kate H. said...

So is the memory of the babysitting house a good one . . . or not?

(Did you click on the Red Wallpaper link marked "this"? LOL!)

Sandy said...

Yes, the memory is a good one. It always felt so cozy. I'm going to have check out that link now, you know....

Sandy said...

That painting is definitely different! LOL