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Bold Floral Wallpaper Is Back BIG TIME… But With A Very “2020” Makeover

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Much like my body during an attempted at-home HIIT class, design trends in 2020 have been slow-moving. Actually aside from the EXPLOSION of “Eccentric English Granny” back in the beginning of the year, design trends are much more lifestyle-based this year. A makeshift at-home office, meticulous organization in every single room, extra comfortable bed linens, etc. are what seem to be actually “on-trend”. Hey, it’s the year that none of us saw coming so I GET IT and am equally “on-trend” in my home. However, along with EEG came the rise of the “femme subculture of Cottagecore“.

Although I have been seeing this style/aesthetic/lifestyle pop up not only in interiors but in fashion too (and accidentally hopped on the bandwagon with the purchase of this dress back in April…for literally no reason), I figured I would do a little research since I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Cottagecore and floral patterns popping up in the home are happening simultaneously.

Cottagecore via Urban dictionary – A niche aesthetic based around the visual culture of an idealized life on a Western farm. Common themes include sustainability, gardens, farm animals, rural living, and nature.

Basically, this trend really catapulted at the start of quarantine due to the fact that many of us were more or less forced to bake, knit, and lounge… indefinitely (if you were one of the lucky ones). Romanticizing a simpler, whimsical life was/still is the name of this game so pretty delicate floral patterned wallpaper is IT when it comes to the interiors side of this zeitgeist movement. What else helps you visually escape more than nature and flowers? But, if you are extra curious about what Cottagecore is about here is an NPR episode. It’s honestly extremely interesting and complex.

However, today we are going to stick to wallpaper. But before we get into the floral patterns of 2020 (aka the more refined cousin of the Modern Victorian oversized florals), let’s revisit the floral wallpaper of yesteryear… 2018

I wasn’t kidding. These puppies were HUGE. To be honest I was never a fan. Sure they were interesting to look at and a clear nod to the original Victorian style, but otherwise really not my particular cup of tea (was that a cottagecore pun?).

image source

These realistic, moody florals were also a big staple for this style but I felt that unless done right were going to look dated quickly. Thoughts?

Well, that’s that. Big florals circa the simple times of 2018 (which feels like actual decades ago). But the florals of today are (to me at least) much more timeless, romantic, and likely the 2020 design MVP. Let’s dive in.

The Tiny Scale Florals

design by studio shamshiri | photo by stephen kent johnson | wallpaper from belfry historic

There are a few types of patterns in this trend that I will talk about but the really delicate yet busy patterns might be favorite. The above dining room is by one of my favorite design firms, Studio Shamshiri. Their work is so varied but it’s always textured, collected, and really really special. This room (one of their recent residential projects) would have been pretty without it but man does that delicate wallpaper just add a “wow” moment. You feel transported looking at it. Also, please note the reflection in the table. Such thoughtful design!

design and photo by laura of no feature walls | wallpaper from morris & co.

Ok, first off this room has three different floral patterns (note the varied scale) PLUS a taupe velvet lampshade. It’s both the coolest and the craziest and so whimsical. What’s not to love?! Follow Laura asap! Her Instagram is a total joy shock to the system.

The Medium Scale Florals

design by nathalie farman-farma | photo by rafael gamo | via t magazine

It’s not all about the tiny delicate florals. While the 2020/cottagecore florals aren’t super oversized, they can still pack a visual punch. In this room, I really love how the plates are almost camouflaged into the wallpaper.

design by miles redd | styled by howard christian | photo by noe dewitt | wallpaper from jasper wallcovering

The rooms above and below really take the floral patterns seriously and I love the saturated color risk taken in these spaces.

design by cordelia de castellane | styled by gianluca longo | photo by matthieu salvaing
design and photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: sara’s closet reveal – the bold design moment she’s been craving

But not all of us can or want to go that hard. Sara’s closet really shows how you can lean into this timeless trend, pack a design punch while not having it feel like visual stimulation overload.

design by studio mcgee | wallpaper by morris & co.

The same goes for Shea McGee’s daughter’s bathroom. It’s floral, romantic but still modern. I also think this is a great time to call out William Morris/Morris & Co. wallpapers. In my opinion, their designs are THE example of what this 2020 trend is…despite the fact that they are from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s… or is that the point;)

design by raili clasen | photo by karyn millet | wallpaper by lake august

This last one is for the modern folk because it is 2020 and I’m pretty sure cars should be flying by now. The colors and floral design speak a bit more to the current time as opposed to the past. But you want to know my favorite part? Well if you have been here for a while you know how much I love a wallpapered ceiling. It’s so fun and in this space visually balances out that bold yellow clawfoot bathtub.

So there it is. An honest to goodness trend post! So question. How do you feel about the EEG/Cottagecore inspired, busy floral wallpaper? Have you considered putting it up in your home??? Do you also want to run away to the south of France, pick flowers, bake pies, and quietly knit? Let’s talk!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Photo Credit: Design and Photo by Studio McGee

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Emily R

GIVE ME ALL THE WALLPAPER!

Anne

100% second this sentiment

Amelia

Yes to wallpaper!! I just did my closet with some and it’s like a surprise every time I open it!

Liz S

No. Just NO.

Some of us lived through this the first time in the 80s. Make it stop.

Liz

For real. I was down with the drama of the huge scale, but the small scale is too reminiscent of those rayon prairies dresses we all spent hours buttoning up in the 90’s

Christina Schroeder

Agree100%

Molly

I’m with you. The large scale, mural type I’m here for, but the bitsy and even some of the medium size patterns SCREAM 80’s Laura Ashley and will be dated in 3, 2, 1…

Hana

Agreed. Busy wallpaper makes me feel like I can’t breathe. I felt so much anxiety looking at these! The only place I ever use floral papers like these are inside of a box or drawer. Admittedly I am a Scandi design lover and these would never work for that style.

LouAnn

I love wallpaper. Just not on my walls.

Seriously my experience with removing wallpaper was a nightmare from which I shall never recover. So I’m happy to see it on other people’s walls, and I’ve collected some beautiful books about William Morris and other wallpaper designers but putting it on my walls is a big fat NO.

Marisa

YEP I don’t think many wallpaper lovers have ever had to remove it themselves. It’s truly the worst.

Samantha

When I moved to London to live with my then boyfriend (now husband) every single room in his flat was covered in layers of wallpaper. The hall had 7-8 layers with paint in between some. Being a glutton for punishment, I removed just about every inch of wallpaper from that 3 bedroom flat and still love the darn stuff.

Azure

I’m pretty much an all florals all the time gal, but this is definitely giving me flashbacks to Laura Ashley dresses from the ’80s, especially with all the puffy sleeves going around. Someone please stop us if we get to shoulder pads.

My new favorite wallpaper company is Sandberg Wallpaper in Sweden. I have some botanical themed samples from them right in front of me! https://sandbergwallpaper.com/.

Donna

Ha! Me, too, however I prefer vintage florals with a botanical theme. Funny you mention Laura Ashley – At the beginning of the pandemic, when we couldn’t leave the house here in PA, I was scrounging for fabric to make masks for my grown children who are essential workers. I found some scraps from a Laura Ashley baby quilt I made way back then and made a them enough masks to tide them over for a while!

Amanda

haha too late on the shoulder pads! Shoulder pad t-shirts are big this season…

Rae

Thank you for the post, Jess! you have such a wonderful take on trends and find the most unique examples. I truly enjoy reading your posts 🙂
Maybe this is silly, but in the last picture…. you have to step through the tub to get to the sinks, shower and I’m thinking the closet door is the toilet room? I’m so distracted by how this bathroom could possibly function…..

Jessica

I think it’s a fold-away wall and the actual bathroom entrance isn’t pictured. I guess they thought the bathroom was so special they needed to see it from the other room…

Jessica

…or the paneled door is the entrance

Donna

Great food for thought, Jess. I was recently surfing the web looking for “floral patterned” linen curtain panels for my bedroom since I didn’t think I could find a compatible solid to match my moody green walls. I could not find 2020 worthy floral patterned curtains – and TBH – I would have loved William Morris patterned curtains (if they were affordable). Especially, the last pattern from Studio McGee (see how good it looks with the green vanity!) What do you think? Will floral patterned curtains be coming back soon? I’m ready!

Martha

nope

J

Nopety nope nope nope.
’81 birth year strikes again.
I love flowers on my shirts and shower curtains. Cannot on my walls. (One of these is close to the wallpaper we removed in our entry way when we bought our house). (Sara’s closet is an exception)

Is this going to morph into duckies and chicks? I’m nervous.

J

That’s not to say this isn’t a fun read. 🙂

Jessica

A couple of these spaces feel “nice to visit”, and a couple feel legit frumpy. I feel like you need to have something very non-frumpy going on to make it feel fresh and contemporary, otherwise it’s a bit grimace-inducing. More boutique hotel, less Aunt Edna’s.

Dakota

I’m all for it! Sara’s closet reveal awakened something in me for an exciting surprise wallpaper moment.

Paula

William Morris wallpaper is timeless. And gorgeous.

Mary Ann

Hi – Some of those are really beautiful – others would not be on my radar. Interesting to consider. Thanks!
As an aside…Sara, you should check out Bas Bleu. They have your wallpaper pattern available in a several items, including an eye mask, scarf, desk accessories and brooch. Such a special pattern – and you bask in it every day. <3

Ryanne

I think it is probably a generational thing. If you are older and put up wallpaper in the eighties and then realized geese with Easter hats on their heads was dated a few years later you just do NOT ever want to go down that road again. BUT then along comes
Sara and her closet 35 years later and you start to think about wallpaper all over again.
Maybe I will do something in my laundry room because once it becomes dated….who would ever see it but me
and the dogs as they pass through to go outdoors.

Christina

No to all of this. But not no to wallpaper in general. I prefer the large scale to the small scale, but in general, way too girly, even for a girly girl.

Kerri

Too much noise.

Jessa

Love it. Love floral everywhere. Especially vintage floral. If I lived in a house with vintage floral wallpaper I would die happy. Every time I see people rip it out I want to weep.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. sara’s closet is the best! i love florals : )

Bella

My parents’ guest bedroom was a brownish/gold/beige floral very similar to the Shea McGee bathroom above and it just got tiring after a while. My childhood bedroom had an adorable small-scale dog print wallpaper which was great as a kid since kept me entertained trying to count all the dogs but my teenage self was over it.

These rooms are gorgeously styled so it can definitely work, but having grown up in a house where basically all the bedroom were wallpapered… it just makes it that much harder to decorate around and it does get boring after a while.

Rusty

I like it in other places, not on walls in standard rooms.

I love it in Sara’s closet, laundries, powder rooms (hhmmm, I obviously like it in small rooms!).

I do like it on the back of bookcases, shelves, open cupboards, etc.

I wallpapered the backs and sides of a small, tall bookshelf and it’s stunning! Everyone compliments on it. It only took a couple of hours and I was in the zone when I did it.

**I just realised my comment was Dr Zuess-ish….. Sam I am…. Hahaha 🤣
I wallpapered the powder room, I wallpapered the car. Oh, how lovely wallpapers are!**

Christa

I completely love the wallpapered niche/back of bookcase, and I can get with a small room with all-over wallpaper. And I’ve always been a fan of classics like William Morris patterns and many of the beautiful floral papers by Schumacher. But I tend to prefer a calm, clean look so I’ll have to pass on that one.

It also loses it’s appeal when it’s done in every room.

Desperately DESPERATELY trying to convince my husband to go for floral wallpaper somewhere. Imma send him this post ASAP. 😉

Allana

Can’t believe you didn’t include Ben Pentreath’s collection with Morris and Co. The colours are fantastic!

J-Dub

YES!!!!! I love everything Ben + Charlie, and the new colorways on the William Morris papers are fun and classic. And it the Morris papers scream “80s” it’s the 1880s and I’m good with that.

Emily W

I love these wallpapers,and while I couldn’t get my spouse on board with a floral wallpaper I did get him to be ok with a geometric on for our powder-room reno!

Just a heads up: the term “Cottagecore” is totally being used by neonazi & racist groups to try and infiltrate their “just live in simpler and whiter times” ideas on pintrest and Instagram. There was a great discussion in some fashion BST groups that may not have trickled down to the interior design world yet.

Caity

Wait what!?? That is crazy……

Anne

One brand new skill I taught myself (YouTube videos) during quarantining is hanging wallpaper! I’ve done my son’s room (subtle geometric pattern), my daughter’s room (tiny florals!), the breakfast nook (polka dot looking tulip print) and pantry (green plaid, also painted the window trim green to match). All the public areas shall remain white, but at this pace all places with doors with them will probably have wallpaper in the next few years. Currently waiting patiently for my William Morris wallpaper purchased for the office to arrive – purchased at Rejuvenation during their sale a few weeks ago, scheduled to ship in mid-November. Can Not Wait!

Kristel

I think the problem I have with almost all of these rooms is that that they don’t feel balanced to me – just to many patterns in one place. You can’t tell the forest from the trees or in one case, the plates from the wallpaper. The only room I liked was the small bathroom with the brass sconces. I did not see ‘Laura Ashley’ there, just a nice art deco flair. I do love some of the large mural like wallpaper (William Morris) but my low boredom threshold would not allow me to enjoy it for very long. It’s neutral walls for me so I can frequently change my décor.

Melanie

So funny… I must be on the same wavelength because I just picked this for my staircase. https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/rifle-paper-co-peacock-wallpaper… and then I’m pairing with white wainscoting so it looks crisp and light and not too moody (although I like a moody room the staircase is open to a 20 foot vaulted ceiling living room).

Caity

I am so Team EEG or Modern Victorian. This is my style mixed with mid-century modern. However, I am not really a fan of the small-scale floral wall paper, at least in my own house. I would love to stay in an airbnb or boutique hotel like this though! I am putting a large scale crane wallpaper in my guest basement bathroom however, but that is more like chinoiserie, and it will be rented to airbnb guests so I felt I could take more of a risk. Great post though!

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