If These Walls Could Talk



Coming back?  Where has it been?  On vacation?


No, not on vacation, we simply did what we always do with anything thing that is trendy.  Too much of a good thing..well becomces too much of a bad thing.  In the case of  wallpaper, we screen printed anything not moving and some things that were still part of the livestock community.  Straying too far away from the classics, and contemporary artists, left us all striping for hours and swearing we’d never paper a wall again.  Understand. Using  wallpapers without a soul can leave us with this mindset.

Designer’s have used fine wall coverings and papers continuously for centuries.  Covering walls with textiles, leathers, silver and golds has been a sign of affluence throughout history.  Hand blocked images on papyrus in Egypt are the earliest records of decorative paper for the walls. Yes!  Thank goodness, we are starting to see more walls covered with purpose and meaning again. Finally! Selecting the right wallcovering for your architecture and decor will be equally exciting and timeless. This is a good time to get the advice of a designer you trust.  Like us…perhaps? And, always use an installer who has a passion for paper!


It’s time to get excited about the possibility of creating walls that reflect our personalities and fit seamlessly into our perfect LBD’s.  Walls that make a statement albeit it subtle or bold.  It’s time to secure a spot on your favorite installer’s calendar.




Brian Atchley is the talent behind many fine installations throughout the country.  He is a Master Paperhanger and a member of the  National Wallcovering Installers Association.  Let’s listen to what he has to say about wall coverings today.


Brian’s Website

Laurel – First of all, what do you consider to be the difference between wall covering and wall paper?

Brian- Generally speaking , I would say the word Wallcovering encompasses any type of material, which includes wallpaper, that is designed and manufactured to be installed onto an appropriately prepared surface. Am I saying that wallpaper and wallcovering are one in the same? In a sense, yes. In the past, I’ve corrected customers and designers when they’ve referred to commercial vinyl as wallpaper, or a block printed paper as a wallcovering. On the other hand, I’ve heard individuals who are in the business of printing commercial vinyl wallcovering, as well as interior designers, label it vinyl wallpaper. I guess there is no real definitive answer to this question. I’m sure some might disagree, however.

Personally, when I’m talking shop or most importantly, figuring a job, I’m very material specific. If it’s a paper backed Schumacher silk , that’s precisely how I communicate it. Notice how the word wallpaper or wallcovering didn’t even enter the sentence.

Laurel -What is evolved with the evaluation of existing wall conditions in regards to how you will prepare to install a new wall treatment?

Brian- The most important factors I consider are surface stability and the type of material that will be installed. Once I know these two factors, I’m on my way to making the necessary decisions for proper prep work to assure a perfect installation for the customer.

Here is a brief example. I’m installing Scalamandre’s Zebras in a powder room in a few weeks. There is currently a yellow eggshell paint on the walls that seems stable. Taking the appropriate steps to ensure the stability of the eggshell paint is vital. The first thing I will do is either lightly sand the walls with 100 grit sandpaper or scrape the walls with a 6” knife to inspect for any areas that might cause an issue. I will follow that step by sealing the eggshell paint with an appropriate sealer. Once the sealer has cured, I’m ready to prepare for the material. With this particular Scalamandre, I line the walls with a blank stock paper “liner paper”, paste size the liner once it has dried, and then install the Scalamandre on top of the blank stock. This process is specifically based on the material and the existing wall condition. Keep in mind that every scenario is different. For example, if this same space were getting a Thibaut grasscloth, the prep would be completely different.

Laurel-Tell us what are your favorite types of installations?  What do you get excited about?

Brian-Typically, I get really excited about jobs that demand a high skill level. This could range from a classic Clarence House Toile installation in a commercial setting to a Zuber Scenic installation in residential setting. Regardless, I get excited about almost every job that I am involved in. I love my job and take great pride in every installation that I do. For example, tomorrow I’m installing a Cole and Son Damask in a dining room. It’s a simple installation, but I’m truly excited about the finished product. This particular Damask pattern is rich in color with a large repeat. The distance between the crown molding and chair rail are going to allow me to center this pattern vertically to perfection. I’ll also center the pattern from left to right on the focal point wall to give the customer symmetrical corners This will also allow the customer to center her beautiful antique mirror on that same focal point wall. I’ll also maintain a perfect head around the perimeter of the whole room to maintain perfect symmetry, despite there not being a perfectly level corner or crown molding in all of the universe, ha. When I’m finished with the job, I know the customer and I both are going to be completely satisfied.

Laurel – Is there a dream project you’d consider taking on in the future?

Brian-Hmmm.. I just try to take things as they come, but I’d consider any project in any part of the world. Perhaps a chinoiserie installation at a private residence on any beach? That’s the first thing that came to mind. I have an infinite love for the ocean and it’s mysterious unexplored depths.

Thanks Brian…looking forward to our next project together!-Laurel

Let’s take a look at a few more examples from Philip Jefferies and others.




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