Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Time Honored Trend

I guess if you follow design trends long enough, everything makes a comeback.  As wise Solomon said, "There's nothing new under the sun", but you can count on designers to spin an old concept in a new way.

Take the upholstering of walls, whose origins began in the middle ages out of a need to provide warmth, color and insulation to drafty spaces.  You can read more about the history of the tapestry here.

Later in the 17th century, the tapestry became wall art as well.
How would anyone rest with all those eyes staring at them???

Obviously, the upholstered wall was reserved for the wealthiest of folk and was a sign of money and prestige.

Jump to the 50's and upholstered walls were still found in the homes of the rich and famous.

Been to Graceland??

Yes, even Elvis had upholstered walls in his billard room.  He even had 3 TV's installed so he could watch multiple shows at one time.....the forerunner to the sports bar, I assume.

In the 80's we thought we were hot stuff to have upholstered walls....usually in the dining room, and usually red!

Oh, but today it all looks so different.  We still love the warmth and ambiance that an upholstered walls gives to a room, but we're so much better at it now!
Alessandra Branca for House Beautiful
Restful and elegant, this neutral, damask pattern on the walls is a soft and pretty backdrop to the crisp bed linens.  I love the celery shade of green.

Helen Green, Interior Designer
The monochromatic color scheme of this room is also a textural heaven....linen upholstered walls, silk pillows, crisp cotton linens and an ultra suede sofa...Couldn't you live here?

Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherril, Interior designers
Here's a twist on the tightly upholstered wall.  This one is loosely draped all around, tacked in place, so it's technically upholstered, but it give a much more relaxed feel to this beachy room.

One more in the neutral palatte...This room, featured in Veranda magazine, is upholstered in faux suede.  Can you even imagine how luxurious that would feel? 

One of my favorite and most recently viewed upholstered walls was in the Southern Accents Showhouse at RiverhillsJoseph Minton upholstered the entire area of the foyer and stairwell in a hand-stenciled linen.  Just incredibly luxurious and so fitting for the magnificence of this home.

Here's a closeup of the stenciled wall.  Can you even imagine the skill necessary to hand paint that much fabric for one application.  As a former mural artist, I'm in awe.

Marnell Corrao Associates
The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas chose to upholster walls, but with bold, dark colors more fitting for the tired gambler who sleeps all day and plays all night. 

Greystone Show house, Beverly Hills, Interior designer, Jonathan Fong
Designer Jonathan Fong wanted to create a room where God might sleep (?)in the Greystone Showhouse in 90210 seen in Veranda, so he had these magnolias blown up and transfered to fabric to upholster the walls.  How imaginative is that?

Christne d'Ornano Interior Design
You can be playful and create fun by upholstering the walls.  I love how the fabric and the headboard are perfectly matched to one another.  What a fun room for a young lady.

Apartment Therapy as seen on Haven and Home design blog
The upholstery technique is a little different here.  Panels are padded and covered to create an all-over pattern.  How detail-oriented and anal must you have to be to get all of these dots to match!! Oh my!

Charles Faudree, the king of all things French provencial, upholstered the walls of this amazing bathroom and then placed this elegant French trumeau in place over the tub.  What luxury Mr. Faudree creates in this bathroom!  Much eye candy here.

Michael Lee, Interior Designer
The powder bath, in my humble opinion, should always be a little  jewel box, and this one, all decked out in Brunschwig and Fils toile, surely is.  It's sometimes hard to soften the over-abundance of hard surfaces in a bathroom, but the upholstered walls and sink skirt really bring delight to this one.

Designer, Steven Gambrel, uses an Ikat fabric from Uzbekistan to bring a dramatic statement to this small little bedroom.  Clearly he's not afraid to use a bold pattern in a small space.  Smart designer that he is, he has balanced it well with the white on the bedlinens.

image from Katie Dickerson on Design
I love this idea.  A small alcove was upholstered then made into a French bulletin board.  I'll bet all of us could find a place to do this in our home or office.
Leather and nailheads together make a real impact in this small desk area.  It appears that panels have been wrapped in the leather (probably because of the width of the leather) and then installed tightly in this alcove.  Think of all the different ways you could create designs with the nailheads.  Endless possibilities!  Love it.

image from The Goods interior design blog
One thing is certain, upholstered walls make a statement.
Because there seems to be no end to the fabric choices available, it's no wonder that this time-tested fabric use continues today. 

Where in your home would an upholstered wall work for you?


  1. Love the Alessandra Branca room, go figure her bed draping is my kitchen wallpaper,hehe. The leather with the nail heads is too cool, would love that in a den or office. I have to thank you sooooo much for the beautiful note you gave me on my last post. It meant so much to me and I would love to hav a real conversation with you. If you figure out a way let me know. I am so computer challenged My mind just does not do well on the legistics of blog land. I could not believe you use me as an example that blew me away. You are just too kind, Hugs Kathysue

  2. OOh I am diggin' on the leather nail head wall. That is inspiration for my office which I am going to redo soon...NICE!

    This post was awesome so many inspirational pictures...Thank you!


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