Retro Wallpaper Wizardry - Page 2

New authentic mid-century designs stage a comeback with fine art and unique style

"Wallpaper is a wonderful thing that adds unique design elements into any home," says Bauer. "If somebody want to be bold or avant-garde, '60s, mod, or whatever, you can find patterns that say that. Wallpaper…really is art that you hang up."

Bauer got his start at the company in 1982, when he joined founder Bruce Bradbury, who had launched the company three years earlier, as an apprentice. Two decades later, after Bruce's retirement in 2005, Bauer and wife Lisa assumed ownership.

Since then, the couple made it their mission to augment Bradbury's extensive inventory with a myriad of new patterns, expanding into the post-World War II era with an array of wallpaper patterns.

  Fridays on the Homefront  
  Fridays on the Homefront
Above: Two more of Bradbury & Bradbury's authentic new 1950s wallpaper patterns.

They've even explored patterns for children's rooms, with designs inspired by fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and patterns by notable illustrators, including children's book artist Walter Crane.

Bradbury's historical designs embrace the classic patterns of designers William Morris and Christopher Dresser, and expand into the innovations of the Jazz Age and progressive Atomic Age. It is no wonder set designers seek out Bradbury's wide-ranging inventory for film and television productions, especially when historic accuracy is of utmost importance.

Reviewing Bradbury's postwar wallpaper designs, it's clear that the 1950s and '60s were filled with vibrant colors and intricate patterns, with appealing designs for kitchens, baths, anywhere color and lines can captivate the senses. Oftentimes a modest accent of wallpaper is all that's needed to make an effective statement.

"They would do a wall of it, not wrap a room," Bauer says. "You could put something highly patterned and turn a wall into Pop Art…and even highlight other elements in the room."

More and more Eichler homeowners these days are looking to designer wallpaper to make a personal statement, adding playful charm to a child's room or dynamic graphics to family living spaces.

  Fridays on the Homefront  
  Fridays on the Homefront
Above: Two patterns from Bradbury & Bradbury's collection of 1960s 'mod generation' wallpaper patterns.

"I've been in a lot of Eichler time capsules," says Bauer, who lives near a dozen Eichlers in a custom 1961 Storybook home. "I've seen settings where one wall is patterned to set off a mid-century chair, and it works to great effect."

"But it seems people are so afraid of color and pattern," he added. "When you look in old periodicals, they used it a lot—but in a fun, bold way, instead of white."

Bauer clearly has reverence and emotional feelings for the art of wallpaper. "Patterns are very subjective, and tastes have changed over the years," he says. "Vintage wallpaper draws a very visceral response from people—either they love it or they hate it."

"A wall of color is nice, but pattern can be so personal," Bauer added. "Even when people see a pattern that looks old or very 'grandma,' the reason there are all these adjectives for pattern is because they're so expressive...There's a language that the thousands of variations that keep reappearing suggest."

Bradbury & Bradbury's wallpapers are marketed in double rolls and available directly from the company. For custom vintage patterns and color options, contact them via their website.