Eclectic Style Wallpaper and Paint

In the late Victorian period, the many people took design ideas for wallpaper and paint from a variety of sources. In these Eclectic style houses, the split between the frieze, field and dado was typical.

Different styles were used for different rooms. The dining room was still masculine in rich colours, but others such as bedrooms were paler in blue-grey or deep pink. There was also a desire to bring the country cottage look to town with oak panelling, chintz papers and fabrics.


Eclectic houses took paint colours from the Gothic and Arts and Crafts palettes.


Rooms often had a different wallpaper for each of the three areas of a wall.

Designers such as Walter Crane and Charles Eastlake produced sets of matching papers. There were also versions for staircases, where the design was angled. By the 1880s and 1890s, special frieze papers were available. Other special papers were made for borders and ceilings.

During the last three decades of the 19th century, wallpapers were in geometric designs with round, square, diamond, or polygonal shapes set out in diaper or half-drop patterns. Others from designers such as William Morris, included highly stylised flowers, foliage, and birds. Designers such as Tiffany, Dresser and Walter Crane employed Japanese motifs. They used asymmetrically placed fans, vases and kimono-clad figures.

The field was seen as the background for pictures and so was more plain than the other parts of the wall but papers still often had large patterns.

wallpaper example

The frieze generally had a larger pattern than the field. Walls tended to be lighter from floor to ceiling, but the frieze took and highlighted the colours from the field, perhaps with a design of repeated landscape scenes.

Leather papers and embossed papers such as Lincrusta and Anaglypta were used on the dado, frieze and even the ceiling, dark painted for the dado and lighter above. These papers were often painted and wiped to highlight the pattern.

Another innovation was washable wallpaper. This was available from the 1880s and used where rooms needed more frequent cleaning, such as the hall and stairs.

See the Gallery for other examples of late Victorian wallpaper.