If the dire predictions are to be believed, Southern California will turn into parched desert in the not too distant future (though one hopes a “Mad Max” mentality doesn’t take hold as well). With water restrictions already in place, extremely conscientious homeowners are already pulling out the roses and bougainvillea and replacing them with drought-tolerant species like apricot mallow, purple sage and a variety of native grasses (a few extremists have actually spray painted their dry brown lawns a vibrant, if not entirely believable, green).
But there’s a far easier solution for those whose longing to meander verdant spaces aren’t being met: Bring it indoors! A slew of new garden-inspired wallpapers, led by the innovative Scottish design company Timorous Beasties, have hit the market just in time to take advantage of our area’s thirsty landscape. William Morris influenced a trio of patterns from the Glasgow company, which used some of the British Arts and Crafts king’s original designs as a jumping-off point. “He’s an inspiration as a true design maverick,” says Beasties’ co-founder Paul Simmons. “The simple ethos of having things in one’s own house that are either beautiful or functional is a great mantra to follow.” Summer Trellis, based on Morris’ very first wallpaper design, features a thick ramble of dog roses climbing through a trellis dotted with bees, while Fruit Looters, based on Morris’ Strawberry Thief, reveals vividly colored birds, fruit and flowers in a repeat pattern. Bloomsbury Garden, teeming with colorful butterflies, beetles and blossoms, doesn’t reference any of the Victorian icon’s specific designs, but is simply an ode to the influential intellectual group of which he was a member.
“Timorous Beasties are really good at taking a classic wallpaper and updating it to make it modern and edgy,” says Norinne De Gal, owner of Beverly Boulevard’s Walnut Wallpaper, who says sales of garden-esque papers are on the upswing. “People have come in looking for vintage-inspired florals, banana leaves, tropical plants…I think interiors follow fashion and that’s been a real trend the last year, so it makes sense.”
Boston-based artist Susan Harter, whose “muralpapers” are prints of her original painted murals that can be sized to any room/wall, recently came out with several dreamy Trellis designs that were inspired by Elsie de Wolf’s famous garden pavilion rooms at Manhattan’s Colony Club. While the landscape mural remains the same, the trellises themselves range from traditional to bamboo to Chippendale and can be tinted to match any paint color. On the other end of the spectrum, design and printing studio twenty2, have five new 3D wallpapers (the collection is called “DEEP”) about to hit the market, including Bloom, a very modern image of Aeonium cacti that make you feel like you’ve fallen into a giant terrarium.
As for where to use such verdant wall coverings, it seems any room will do. “I think there’s a case for having some lush patterns in one’s interiors,” says Simmons, who suggests his Fruit Looters pattern “would suit a breakfast room or conservatory—or simply wherever you might want to drink a cup of tea!” De Gal’s idea of a perfect room for it? “Definitely a powder room,” she says, “because it doesn’t have to match the rest of the house—a powder room can stand alone, so it’s a place for taking chances and having fun.”
Along with classic prints—the Beverly Hills Hotel's famous Martinque banana leaf pattern and Dorothy Draper’s similar Brazillance, made famous by its use at the Greenbrier Hotel, come to mind—every design house, from Schumacher to Christian Lacroix, have wallpapers that will make you believe that the air is scented with flowers, the birds chirping and the butterflies flitting about. Just remember not to look outside.