My first real job out of college, back in the late 1980s, was working as an editor for a wallcoverings trade magazine (yes, there is a trade publication for virtually every industry), the place at which I would meet the love of my life, my future husband.
We both worked as editors, he as the executive editor, and me as the associate editor (the one and only time during our relationship when he was my boss, in my opinion anyway), reporting on wallpaper trends and the state of the industry.
At the time, “matchy-matchy” was all the rage, and almost every wallpaper pattern came with a coordinating border, as well as wastepaper baskets, tissue boxes, curtains, valances, comforters, pillows, and duvets all featuring the same dizzying pattern, or at the very least, one that coordinated. It looked like someone or something had thrown up flowers or paisley or what have you all over an entire room, but it’s what homeowners seemed to want at the time.
Then there was a period in which there was almost no wallpaper. People tired of it too quickly, it appeared, and it was inconvenient, and often expensive, to install and remove. Wallpaper sample books seemed to disappear from decorating product store shelves almost overnight, and people focused on paint instead.
Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of wallpaper, but unlike in its heyday of the 80s, it’s often a high-end, luxurious, statement-making paper designated for one wall as a focal point, or for one room in the home, such as the foyer, dressing room, or powder room, a space in which residents are not generally spending a tremendous amount of time, and through which they and their guests pass fairly quickly. The papers often contain metallics, or bits and pieces of small stones and glass, gilded threads, and other items that make them textured and three-dimensional.
Neither my husband nor I work in the wallcoverings industry anymore (although we both continue to work in publishing, just not together), but I can still appreciate the good design of a grasscloth or bold graphic print, particularly when we’re guests at someone’s home, enjoying dinner in their beautiful, wallpapered dining room. Somehow wallpaper makes the space — and therefore the gathering — more fun.