The Five Most Iconic Wallpaper Designs of All Time
Plus, some insight into the stories and inspiration behind each of them.
Not only does the right wallpaper make a statement in a room, but it can also elevate the entire ambience of a space. "Wallpaper has a tremendous impact," says Barbara Karpf, the president and founder of DecoratorsBest. "It can instantly create a new look with color and texture and can influence the mood with a new pattern."
Luckily, if you're a rookie when it comes to decorating with wallpaper, there are a handful of tried-and-true designs that make selecting an eye-catching pattern a breeze. "Wallpapers such as Zebras by Scalamandré, Citrus Garden by Schumacher, and Brazilliance by Dorothy Draper are so bold and whimsical, they practically dare you to not be happy," says Jessica Geller of Toledo Geller. "There is a sense of familiarity with these iconic wallpaper patterns, so while they are incredibly bold, they also feel safe because—whether you realize it or not—you've probably seen them repeatedly over the years in design books, magazines, and movies." Looking for a legendary wallpaper pattern to employ in your own home? Scroll down to hear more about five of the greatest wallpaper designs of all time, with insight from our experts to boot.
Citrus Garden by Schumacher
Based on a 1947 archival print by Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank, Citrus Garden by Schumacher has long been loved by design enthusiasts for its whimsy and warmth. "I first discovered Citrus Garden in the Schumacher archive when I was working on a special project as the editor-in-chief of a leading magazine," says Dara Caponigro, the creative director at Schumacher. "I spied the happy, modern print and knew it had something special about it—it was appealing and friendly, but it also had an uncanny sophistication. In 2014, when I began my job as Creative Director for Schumacher, my first assignment was creating our 125th anniversary collection. Guess which pattern was top of my list to reissue? It's been a runaway hit ever since and I think it's because it makes you smile and brings instant joy to any space."
Zebras by Scalamandré
Originally designed in 1945 by Flora Scalamandré (Franco Scalamandré's wife) for the then newly-opened Gino of Capri restaurant on New York City's Upper East Side, Zebras by Scalamandré is arguably the most recognizable wallpaper pattern of all time. The animated sketch of two zebras leaping on a lively red background was inspired by the restaurant owner's passion for animals and dream of one day taking an African safari—and it remains just as popular today as it was 75 years ago. "I think the design itself leaves enough 'room' for the viewer to create their own 'backstory' around it," explains Faith Stoveld, the marketing manager at Scalamandré. "It is just the right amount of fanciful, graphic, and chic to live through decades and decades of design and bypass any fleeting trends."
Les Touches by Brunschwig & Fils
Released in 1965 as a modern, stylized animal print, Les Touches by Brunschwig & Fils reads part polka dot and part abstract pattern, making it versatile enough to work in just about any space. Within years of its release, the fabric and wallpaper design was available in a range of colorways, including blue and pink, securing its place as the reigning animal print of the interior design world. "Combined with the matching fabric, it makes a strong statement in any room, but can also blend well with other patterns," Karpf says. Adds Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo of Laurie Blumenfeld Design,"Animal prints never go out of style."
Brazilliance by Dorothy Draper
Created in 1937 by legendary interior decorator Dorothy Draper, Brazilliance was originally designed for the Arrowhead Springs Hotel in San Bernardino, California, as well as the Quitandinha, in Brazil. Often imitated but never duplicated, the bold Hollywood Regency-style banana leaf print has since made its way onto the walls of several other iconic hotels, including The Greenbrier in West Virginia and, perhaps most famously, The Colony in Palm Beach. "Mrs. Draper often said in the office, 'Show me nothing that looks like gravy!'" Brinsley Matthews, the executive vice president of Dorothy Draper & Company says. "Brazilliance is freedom from all the drab."
Bowood by Colefax and Fowler
Based on a 19th-century fabric print that legendary decorator John Fowler discovered while staying at England's famed Bowood estate, Bowood by Colefax and Fowler is the epitome of classic chintz. Originally released in 1938, the wallpaper design still perseveres as one of the brand's best-selling prints, making its way into modern-day spaces for its enduring qualities. "The colors are serene, yet versatile and the floral pattern is so timeless," says interior designer Elizabeth Cooper. "It works just as well in homes today as it did in the 1940s." Blumenfeld-Russo, agrees: "Floral trends come and go, but this design carries a strong dose of nostalgia."