Article Line Long1

The 17 Iconic Wallpaper + Fabric Patterns Any Design Lover Should Know

Welcome to my new favorite day of the week: TRIVIA TUESDAY. Today’s mission: we’re going to review 17 classic wallpaper and fabric patterns that I can all but guarantee you’ve seen before. The goal: one day you will offhandedly point at an Instagram post, film set, magazine spread, or some other form of media and you will be able to say, “oh, that? That’s (insert impressive knowledge of specific timeless pattern here).”

Let’s jump right in with a freebie, yeah? (And keep track of all the patterns you recognize – I want to know how many are familiar to you!)

Zebras by Scalamandré

design by maria united | via ad magazine russia

Try this scenario on for size: you’re a popular New York City restauranteur in the 1940s with a tiny budget, shoebox-sized establishment (The Times’ review, not mine), and big dreams of one day embarking on an African safari. That was the situation that Gino Circiello found himself in when he enlisted a friend to create a standout pattern to deck the walls of his eponymous restaurant, Gino, in 1945. The spaghetti-sauce red background, leaping zebras, and miniature arrows were an instant hallmark.

design by madre dallas design | photo by emery davis photography

…until a fire ravaged Gino’s restaurant in the 1970s, that is. Gino then turned to the husband-and-wife team of Franco and Flora Scalamandré, who painstakingly redrew each Zebra and hand-cut each screen to create a spitting image of the original. And, well, the rest is history.

Citrus Garden by Schumacher

In the mid-1930s, architect and designer Josef Frank left his native Austria to escape a rising tide of anti-Semitism. He headed north to Sweden, his wife’s homeland, and spent the next two decades creating whimsical, charming, bright, hand-drawn textile prints (and furniture, and decor, and more – his output was unprecedented). Case in point: the cheery Citrus Garden, which was based on one of his illustrations from 1947.

home of allison pierce | styling by velinda hellen & erik staalberg | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: working with what you’ve got – An $8k budget kitchen makeover with a lot of vintage charm

Josef was really passionate about accessible design – “the house is not a work of art, simply a place where one lives,” he wrote – so his designs make an ideal backdrop for those who love to mix, match, and curate their home slowly. Sara shot the above space for Em’s new book and the print is even better up close, don’t you think?

Les Touches by Brunschwig & Fils

design by michael s. smith | photo by davies roger | via architectural digest

A decades-old pattern that feels ultra-current? SIGN ME UP. This animal-esque polka dot was developed from a set of post-WWII photographs and is now offered in 18 different colors. Michael S. Smith, the designer of the above room, offers this: “It’s like chic camouflage – Upper East Side camouflage.”

And he’s right. Les Touches plays well with others – it can read as a relaxed polka dot, a quiet floral, or as a punchy geometric print. Each roll, which is hand-screened in America on cotton backing (yes, that is as fancy as it sounds), is sure to stand the test of time.

Raphael by Sandberg

An EHD favorite! Raphael had two very diverse inspirations: it’s 50% Central Park – a leafy haven in contrast to a bustling city – and 50% antique tapestry, where stylized leaves are often shown in fields of light and shade. It’s a quiet, easy-to-love pattern for those who may feel a little scared of committing to a permanent wall covering. (It looks great as an accent wall, too.)

Acquario by Cole & Son

design by number forty two

When a surrealist artist (or, uh, their estate, I guess) combines forces with a prolific wallpaper maker, GREAT THINGS HAPPEN. Piero Fornasetti used a ton of fish motifs in his early work – he was fascinated by how marine life was simultaneously so simple yet so mysterious – and MAN, do those motifs look great as a wallcovering.

Acquario is a great option for folks looking to balance a bit of whimsy with a timeless, refined color palette. We usually see this print in refined children’s rooms and bathrooms, but how great would one of these darker colors look in an office?

Martinique by CW Stockwell

Great story alert: In 1905, a pharmacist named Clifton Stockwell from Armstrong, Iowa moved to Los Angeles and started a wallpaper business. His daughter, Lucile, and her husband, Remy Chatain – both Parsons graduates – eventually joined the business and created this design after a vacation to the South Seas.

design and photo by gray malin

When fashion and interior designer Don Loper stumbled upon the CW Stockwell showroom in 1942, he knew he’d found the look he wanted for his Beverly Hills Hotel redesign. Don re-created the mural-style installation he’d seen in the showroom and expanded it to fit the corridors of the hotel…and that’s how a pharmacist from Iowa became responsible for one of our all-time favorite film and TV backdrops of the last century. FUN, RIGHT?

Hicks Hexagon by Cole & Son

Speaking of film backdrops – does this pattern ring a bell for anyone? Famed interior designer, David Hicks’ mod geometric patterns helped define 1960s style. His son, Ashley, worked with Cole & Son to bring a small, livable version (the edges on the print are slightly curved to be less stark!) to walls worldwide.

via wallpapercave

Oh. Yup – that’s why it looks familiar. The big, slightly-less-livable version played a starring role in The Shining. So, uh, feel free to namedrop the Hicks Hexagon next time you’re watching this movie, I guess?

Strawberry Thief by Morris & Co.

Before it was an iconic wallcovering, Strawberry Thief started its life as a textile print in 1883. (And if you ever want to read about an interesting guy, google its designer, William Morris – a quick bio describes him as follows; “British textile designer, poet, artist, novelist, architectural conservationist, printer, translator and socialist activist…” – hello, jack of all trades!) You’ll be able to spot this one in the wild seeing as it’s, well, a bird stealing a strawberry. Aptly named. 10/10.

Artemis by House of Hackney

design by emily henderson | photo by keyanna bowen | from: all the details of the primary suite at the real simple home

Annnnd here’s a print inspired by the work of William Morris (and also by Diana Vreeland’s 1955 ‘Garden in Hell’ room, where she told her designer that she wanted her living room to “look like a garden, but a garden in hell,” – a directive that is simultaneously impressive in its clarity and terrifying in its creativity). Artemis is an old-school motif with a little bit of bite.

The craziest part? House of Hackney launched in 2010. THIS MILLENNIUM! Classic patterns with ultra-modern interpretations – this is a total go-to pattern if you want to add a little edge to a traditional space.

Toile de Nantes by Pierre Frey

Toile de Nantes was inspired by 18th century Ikat fabrics, but it was made famous after Estée Lauder chose the print for her Hamptons home in the 1970s. The pattern toes the line between beachy and regal, which is an incredible balance to strike.

design by beverly field

And if you’re a fan of the elevated mix-and-match…look no further. This one’s a winner that will still look chic in 50 years! (Have you also noticed that all three of these designers chose to style their Toile with big hits of leopard print?)

Brazilliance by Dorothy Draper

If you’re like, “hey, dummy, we already looked at banana palm wallpaper,” SIT TIGHT – this one is different! The key giveaway? The Brazilliance print also features clusters of trailing sea grapes. (Also, this one predates Martinique by about 5 years!)

Dorothy Draper originally designed this for the Arrowhead Springs Hotel – an A-list celebrity getaway just outside of LA that fell out of favor after the resort was used as a navy hospital in World War II – and the print made its way onto the walls of a bunch of other iconic properties. Saturated, glam, and anything but boring – what else can you ask for?

Nuvolette by Cole & Son

design by kirsten blazek | photo by virtually here studios | from: tour creative director and founder of a1000xbetter kirsten blazek’s soulful, vintage-filled home

Oooooooh. Here’s one more from our favorite Italian surrealist, Fornasetti, and my favorite wallcovering maker, Cole & Son. (I have two of their wallpapers in my home and yes, I am very biased.) This print, Nuvolette, kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

The detail on each cloud is incredible and the sense of movement this print brings to a space is pretty unprecedented. We see this pattern pop up time and time again in all kinds of room reveals – living rooms! Kitchens! Kid’s rooms! Bathrooms! – but it always feels fresh and refined.

Pimpernel by Morris & Co.

One more from our multi-hyphenate William Morris! He designed this pattern in 1876 and used it in his own dining room at Kelmscott House, which is now a historic landmark. Pretty much every Morris & Co. wallpaper or textile is a classic, but this one gets extra marks for being so flexible – it can go dark and moody or light and airy, which is AWESOME.

Bowood by Colefax and Fowler

design by cameron ruppert interiors | via ang decorates

Another great origin story here: Bowood was based on a mid-1800s fabric fragment that decorator John Fowler discovered while staying at the Bowood Estate (hence the name – it’s not “boxwood,” as some folks assume!).

There are a lot of chintzes out there, but few have the longevity and recognition of Bowood. Remember that old saying “leaves of 3, let them be?” Well, it’s kind of like, “clusters of 3, must be Bowood by Colefax and Fowler.” (Less rhyme, less memorable, similar sentiment – this pattern has staying power.)

St Laurent by De Gournay

Let’s be clear: de Gournay has no shortage of stunning hand-painted wallpapers, but St Laurent is a liiiiittle extra special. This print, in particular, was inspired by a 1700s wallpaper in the Parisian home of Yves Saint Laurent. Next time you see a classic Chinoiserie wallcovering, see if you can spot the peacock – it may be St Laurent. 🙂

Fireworks by Hinson

HELLO, cute and playful! This one reminds me a lot of Les Touches (remember, the abstract-animal-dot one?), except it feels a little more pristine, organized, and buttoned-up. That tracks because Albert Hadley (the mastermind behind this print, in collaboration with Harry Hinson) also decorated spaces for Jackie O. (Clean, chic, simple, classic. It all makes sense.)

via lonny

Finding wallpaper patterns that work with existing elements can be such a nightmare, but Fireworks is a great, goes-with-anything option. It comes in 6 different colors, too, so you’re sure to find one that works for your home and style.

Chiang Mai Dragon by Schumacher

Oh man – every single color of this pattern is an absolute slam dunk. Chiang Mai Dragon is based on a 1920s Art Deco block print and it brings so much color, vibrancy, and life to each space it inhabits. This is another one of those use-anywhere patterns – it just goes, you know?

That’s it from me and my little ol’ noggin for our first-ever Trivia Tuesday and I gotta know – how many of these did you recognize? And even more importantly…which classic patterns am I missing? These were the 17 timeless options that came to my mind when I thought about classic textiles and wallcoverings, but I know there are SO MANY other goodies out there. Feel free to drop a link or a name (or even an involved anecdote!) if you’d like to share your own knowledge!!! See ya down there. xx

Opening Image Credit: Design by Jason Reeves of Highlander Mountain House | Photo by Maggie Braucher| via Remodelista

0 0 votes
Article Rating


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Amanda Rae
6 months ago

This was so great. I’m pleased to note that I recognized all but one, and knew the designer or manufacturer of most! I mean, Josef Frank? He is THE BEST. Thanks for this tutorial; reminds me of my days as a buyer at a decorative arts bookstore ❤️

6 months ago

Loved this post.

6 months ago

This was fun! For anyone who’s into House of Hackney, there’s an episode of the devol kitchens show (on magnolia network) that features the founders and their home. The show focuses on the kitchen of course, but you do see some parts of the rest of their house. It’s somehow both traditional and totally wild!

6 months ago

Loved this! I want to add Schumacher’s Pyne Hollyhock to this list! It’s just so dang beautiful!

6 months ago
Reply to  Jo

Hear, hear! A total classic. And if we may add modern classics? Brooklyn Toile by Flavor Paper. It’s designed by Mike D. of the Beastie Boys, and it’s a classic-looking toile but look closely and you realize the vignettes are cherubic Nathan’s hot dogs, The Cyclone rollercoaster from Coney Island, an elevated F train, Biggie in his crown, a group of dancing Hasidic men, stroller mommies, some pigeons… glorious. It’s in my bathroom (in Brooklyn!) and I love it so much.

6 months ago
Reply to  Jo

100% agree! Albert Hadley designed it – total classic.

I would also nominate “Hummingbird” by Cole & Son, “Bird and Thistle” by Brunshwig & Fils, “Dolly” by Sister Parish, and “Views of North America” and/or “The American War of Independence” by Zuber.

6 months ago

This wallpaper thing is amazing I love it. Because I am bored with solid colors on walls and they say modern endustrial design. Oh come on It is boring. This wallpaper gives our homes joy and fun and this post is amazing example.

6 months ago

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! All the heart eyes.

6 months ago

Love this! And that last original blue tile bathroom is *chef’s kiss*

6 months ago

I’ve liked the Nuvolette wallpaper ever since seeing it in that adorable vanity nook in Sara’s bedroom reveal from several years ago. I thought for sure the Great Wave wallpaper from Emily’s laundry closet in the Glendale home would make an appearance-still so memorable to me.

6 months ago

Love this post!

6 months ago

Josef Frank. All day, every day. (I mean, except in my real life, where I definitely would live in fear of our son deciding to doodle on it or me crashing into it while moving a piece of furniture or whatever. But in my dreams, definitely Josef Frank. Timeless and joyful.

Ellen Feeney
6 months ago

Caitlin, you are the best. I loved this post/ I’m a lover of the classics and this post is a keeper for me. Thank you so much for a great and inspirational read.

6 months ago

Perfect post! Thanks for sharing!

Erin G
6 months ago

Just popping into the comments to share I’ll read anything Caitlin writes — real estate saga, treatise on wallpaper, etc. Your writing is so good 🙂

Reply to  Erin G

totally agree!

SUCH a good post. eye candy for days. there were so many little details in each picture that were SO good.

6 months ago

What an absolute pleasure to read! Eye candy and design education?? Sign me up!! Love it, Caitlin!

6 months ago

Sign me up for trivia Tuesdays. I learned a lot

6 months ago

so much fun! This helps so much to have a catalogue of the icons. The history makes me appreciate the originals (at the original prices!) even more, and gives a great way to judge knock-offs as well. Bookmarking this!

6 months ago

Another member of the Caitlin fan club here! I loved this post and I recognized all but Bowood and I definitely didn’t think there were 2 iconic banana palm papers but now that I see the details I will henceforth be able to tell them apart. This post was a feast for the eyes! Someday I will have wallpaper in my home! Someday!

Mary B.
6 months ago

I love this post! I am currently figuring out where I can wallpaper and what to use in our new house – my husband is concerned for resale (which is valid, we will be selling our house in the next 3-5 years and relocating again for work, but we stil lhave to live here for those 3-5 years and I want to love my home!) but maybe this will help me convince him to go with a bold classic! I have loved so many of these for so long!

🥰 Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Mary B.

I reckon the wallpaper Caitlin did in her rental will make money for her landowner down the line. It’s about choosing carefully and timeless designs for resale me thinks.

Mary B.
6 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Yes! Agreed! Caitlin’s choices were phenomenal 🙂 I’ll be showing this post to the other decision maker in the house tonight for sure!

🥰 Rusty
6 months ago

What a treat!😃
I actually reconized more tg8an I thought I would.
Soooo many drool-worthy designs.

I love so many, I cannot choose a favourite, but ACQUARIO is so whimsical. I’d have a big piece of that in a frame. And that’s a vegetarian who’s allergic to fish sayin’ that! It’s like they’re flying, not swimming.

I think this kind of topic, where you teach readers about about something is brilliant.

I had to do a major assignment design in Year 12 of high school Art, to design an original wallpaper desogn. Let’s just say I hated it. I did okay, but it was not fun, too rigid in it’s factors and pretty uch put me off wallpaper for life… that is, until the last couple of years on EHD, starting with Sara’s closet., then you with your stunning makeover wallpapers.
Now… if I didn’t have highly textured, 100 year old plaster walls…..😏

Susan from FOAS
6 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Hi Rusty! I also have 100 year old plaster walls. My favorite alternate use for wallpaper is on a folding screen – make it as tall as you want, usually with 18″ wide sections. Endlessly beautiful and useful. I have two covered long ago with hand painted Chinese wallpaper and I love them. Or buy or make some big frames – 6′ tall or more, two panels of wp wide and make three of four frames of the paper. This works beautifully for panoramic papers – you can move them around and take them with you!

Hope all is well.

6 months ago

This is such a great idea! Thank you.

Katie McDermott
6 months ago

Love this so much! Can you tell me source for the RAPHAEL BY SANDBERG photo on the right? Trying to track down that green paint color – amazing!

6 months ago

What a wonderful post! All of them are so pretty and incredible. My favourite; Nouvolettes. I miss Cow Parsley of Cole¬Son.

Amy Elizabeth Jones
6 months ago

I didn’t really recognize that 6 of these were iconic….but now I know! Thanks for the fun lesson 🙂

6 months ago

I love this article! I’d also love a similiar piece discussing classic fabric patterns!

6 months ago

this was SO FUN! next, can you get us sources to buy where we don’t have to go through a pro? hahaha, jk i know that can never happen. I’m kind of surprised there wasn’t one from Timorous Beasties! So many iconic prints!

Susan from FOAS
6 months ago
Reply to  kiki

I think all you need is a re-sale license and a business card or stationary. That should open the door to professional discounts.

6 months ago

Ah such gorgeous choices – so glad you chose WIlliam Morris! He and his colleagues lead such an amazing time in design history. I was hoping to see Schumacher’s Chenonceau – it always takes my breath away when I see it, but I know it was difficult to choose representation from their catalogue. Lovely article!

6 months ago

I want the wallpaper in Carrie’s apartment from AJLT.

6 months ago
Reply to  lisa

You probably already know, but “ Parker’s own interior designer, Eric Hughes, created the bold floral wallpaper that now surrounds Carrie’s writing desk.”

6 months ago

Missing: Marthe Armitage

6 months ago

Love Love Love wallpaper! Growing up in Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Hotel wallpaper permeates even my dreams. Thanks for an inspiring post. How about flocked wallpaper? That’s a thing, too.

6 months ago

Diana Vreeland’s “Garden in Hell” was designed by Billy Baldwin. Total design icon and father of the modern slipper chair, lacquer walls, rattan-wrapped furniture (especially etageres), and the Billy Baldwin-style sofa (aka the Tuxedo Sofa).

Susan from FOAS
6 months ago
Reply to  Jenna

Also the Cole Porter bookcases/etageres. I read recently that Billy designed the original antelope carpet for Stark in 1957. That carpet is divine.

6 months ago

I have used the Sandberg Raphael TWICE I love it so much. I think William Morris’ Willow Bough and Fruit (which i have and love) also pretty iconic.

6 months ago

Just wanted to pop on to say BRAVO. Beautiful choices, beautiful images, and so much fun information told in a super engaging way. Caitlin, I loved this post and I hope you do more like it. I love getting to learn along with my eye candy, so thanks for doing the research! Bet you had fun writing this, too.

6 months ago

Schumacher and Morris any time! Thanks for the beautiful wallpapers and ideas. I second that Josef Frank is missing. Another pattern I think has become a classic (or perhaps I only think this because I love it): Harlem Toile by Sheila Bridges Thanks for the great writing!

Anne Marie
6 months ago

Absolutely loved this post! Recognized quite a few but was introduced to my new favorite NUVOLETTE BY COLE & SON! THANK YOU!

6 months ago

Josef Frank forever!

I would also throw in some CFA Voysey — I dream of having Apothecary’s Garden or Voysey Park, but it’s like a billion pounds a metre and I have a toddler. In another life when I am both cats, perhaps

Paula Carr
6 months ago

I know them all! But I love wallpaper and fabric. I didn’t know the names of all of them (but I knew Bowood was NOT Boxwood, heh), but I’ve seen them all and liked them all. I’m a HUGE Chiang Mai Dragon fan!

Paula Carr
6 months ago

Oh, and I also love Cole and Sons Gondola. And every wallpaper Katie Ridder has done.

The Pattern Collective
6 months ago

Love this and love these patterns! There are SO many beautiful designs by independent pattern designers out there too ❤️

6 months ago

I loved this! What a way with the zebras in red though. I would never think of *that* kind of wallpaper there

6 months ago

I just put up Birds and Pomegranate wm Morris on one wall in our guest room. Having fun w the rest of it! Thanks for all the photos!

6 months ago

I LOVE this post idea…. it would be incredible to see a series about iconic stuff! Furniture, paint, home styles (like how you can see mini Mount Vernons all over the US), etc….

6 months ago

I also love Lotus by Farrow and Ball!

6 months ago

Hey, beautiful wall murals, the rooms with them become truly magical 🙂

6 months ago

Love this! Surprised not to see the Japanese Floral from Florence Broadhurst in there! But I loved this article 😁

6 months ago

Love the post! I would love to add Sheila Bridges Harlem Toile please. 🙂

Go To Top