Gothic Style Wallpaper and Paint

This page describes how paint and wallpaper was been used when the gothic style was fashionable in the Victorian period.


If paint was used, rather than wallpaper, stencil patterns were applied above the dado and below the picture rail.

From about 1840, tinted ceilings became popular. These were in grey or light green, with the cornice plain or slightly darker. In the dining room the walls were dark, for example crimson, with the ceiling and cornice tinted to match, perhaps in pale pink. Plaster mouldings, including cornices and ceiling medallions were sometimes richly painted.


During the mid-Victorian Gothic period, wallpaper was the most common wall-covering. New mass-production printing methods made it affordable for the new middle-class. Wallpaper used in the United Kingdom was made in Britain or imported from France. Henry Cole, the superintendent of the Great Exhibition, encouraged the use of rich colours through his journal. Owen Jones argued against pictorial papers and three-dimensional designs.

design for rich wallpaper

While silks and satins continued to be used by the wealthy, flock and velvet wallpapers were very fashionable.

Heavily patterned papers in dark greens and burgundy were used above the dado.

Wallpapers in sprig patterns and moiré finishes were still popular in the 1840s. Trellis designs and patterns imitating swagged textiles and painted panelling were also used. Gothic fashions brought in complicated geometrical designs.

Leather and leather cloth came back into fashion in the 1840s, and remained popular into the 1870s. Embossed canvas and papers giving a simulated leather look became available.

Borders during this period were fairly narrow and typically darker than the main wallpaper. The designs used were florals, trailing plants, or architectural details. Others represented swags of fabric.