Edwardian Wallpaper and Paint

Edwardian paints and wallpapers were lighter in colour, making increasing use of whites and creams.


Bright white paints were now available. Woodwork was grained or painted. The range of colours available was wide.


Large-patterned, floral designs persisted in wallpaper, but on a paler background. Adam wallpaper designs appeared in the late 1890s and were still available in the early years of the 20th century. Wall hangings returned in some homes but flock wallpaper disappeared from dining rooms. There might have been a pictorial frieze, and the ceiling would have had a relief pattern paper.

wallpaper example

After 1900, the frieze began to have the same paper, pattern and colour as the field, but the use of wallpaper also declined into the 20th century. There was an argument in this period on the role of wall decoration; was it a foil for pictures or should it have a pattern in its own right? Gradually the arguments in favour of a subtle pattern or even texture won, and paint rather than paper took over.

Some patterning remained; for example stripes if the design was in the French style, a leather finish for the dining room, and chintz florals in 'feminine' rooms.

By 1910, middle-class rooms had taken up the call for less clutter and more simplicity in decoration; the wallpaper would have had a plainer pattern or walls were just painted. However, this fashion would have taken longer to appear in lower class homes.

See the Gallery for other examples of Edwardian wallpaper.