The Perks of Being a Pale Blue Wallpaper by

Issue 102 · Winter Lights · December 12, 2013

The Perks of Being a Pale Blue Wallpaper

Issue 102 · Winter Lights · December 12, 2013

For months I anguished over how to pick the perfect wallpaper for a small guest bathroom with no windows. And guess what? I finally found it (well, actually, my friend Stephanie found it—she finds almost everything that looks good in my house) and screwed up the courage to cover the walls. It was perhaps the most difficult decorating challenge I've faced:

Photographs by John Merkl except where noted.

Michelle's bathroom l Gardenista

Above: I knew from the beginning I wanted a botanical pattern to bring the garden indoors to a room with no natural light. But a lot of the patterns I considered I rejected because I feared they would feel too claustrophobic on the walls of a room that measures 6 feet by 4 feet (with a 9-foot ceiling). 

botanical wallpapers

Above: Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Last spring I narrowed the choices to five patterns I thought were the finalists, and I asked readers to help me pick by voting for No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, or No. 5. Guess what? Readers' votes were split—and everybody had a strong opinion.

"Too country for my taste," a reader named Sonja wrote of a pale blue floral pattern.

Another reader named Cynna advised that "the turquoise Wisteria will make your ceilings look higher."

"You have likely already realized that #1 and #4 suck for many reasons," wrote Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media. "#5 is an easy choice, but better left to model home designers, though it does look good with your hardware."

At that point, I figured I needed to broaden my search for wallpaper (and possibly replace my bathroom hardware).

Many months went by (if this were a movie, we'd see the calendar pages flipping) with me finding a candidate, writing away for a sample, holding it against the wall in the bathroom and ... hating it.

Finally, one day last month my friend Stephanie stumbled across the most beautiful paper—Cole & Son's Egerton, with wisteria vines twined across a pale blue background. She saw Egerton Wallpaper for sale at Anthropologie ($248 a roll). Anthropologie's photos were fantastic; you could really see the painterly texture of the paper.

So I ordered a sample.

Cole & Son Egerton wallpaper Michelle's bathroom l Gardenista

Above: And I loved it. There is something at once old-fashioned about the pattern ("it was originally taken from a block print design dating back to sometime between 1910 and 1925," Cole & Son spokeswoman Laura Sage told me) and refreshingly modern.

One thing I really love is that the pattern manages not to look too geometric; of course it has a repeat, but you're not really aware of that. The wisteria looks as if it's meandering haphazardly across the walls.

  Cole & Son Egerton wallpaper in Michelle's bathroom l Gardenista

Above: What do you think? Did I make the right decision? Tell me in the comments section below.

Considering a DIY wallpaper project? See DIY: Botanical Wallpaper to Greet Holiday Guests.

Decorating dilemmas? I've faced plenty this year. There was The Case of the Low Sofa and my struggles to Live Gracefully With a Marble Backsplash. See more stories in Domestic Dispatches.



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