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Wallpaper Makeover

August 17, 2011 by admin

Sometimes a little old timey pattern is all a tired old room needs to totally transform.  If you’ve got a room with charming old bones like moulding, wood floors and great old windows, why not play up the features and create a special, romantic little hideaway that feels like the attic bedroom in an old farm house?  That’s exactly what I did here…





Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


This charming Thibaut wallpaper had just the old fashioned floral motif I was after (plus I’m a sucker for geraniums).  In order to get the aged feeling I wanted, I actually took a small power sander to the walls!  The results were fantastic and had me totally excited!

Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


Adding vintage accessories and classic antique furnishings furthered our dramatic makeover from student flophouse to artistic respite.  I’m always on the hunt for old bottles like this; they’re the perfect way to display a sprig of this or that.

Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


Note, we didn’t wallpaper the whole room, just a few key walls.  In the end it felt like the wallpaper had always been there with it’s muddy green trim and things had evolved over time.  Just the way I like it.  Hope you do too!

Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


Special thank you to my lovely and talented friend, Donna Griffith and her beautiful photography.  Check out her work here.


  1. Steve says:

    This wallpaper reminds of the room you stayed in in Kennebunkport.

    I have a love/hate relationship with wallpaper. I put it up, live with it for awhile, glaze down the pattern with watered-down paint and now I’m think of ripping it down to starting from scratch.

    Love it or hate it, there’s no denying how much wallpaper can instantly transform a room.

  2. Nancy gaylord says:

    What a difference, absolutely beautiful. The distressed look on the wallpaper is ingenious. I am a fan of wallpaper especially in older homes. We have a newer home but filled with antiques and collectibles and the wallpaper works even here. It is a little more subtle to work with the new( a hint of pattern). We have an antique store in the whole basement but unfortunately my husband used all wood. It works but not as well as wallpaper would have. thank you for the post and ideas,. The photography is wonderful too. Nancy

  3. katy elliott says:

    Wow michael I love it. It totally reminds me of your hotel in kennebunkport too!

  4. sue says:

    True enough about wallpapers ability to change a room
    I would love to frame the wallpaper. A series of different shaped frames, 7 or 9 and painted the feature wall they hung on in a punchy color that contrasted with the wall paper. Love what you did by distressing it. Brilliant. Just picturing it. I do love the room, feel like the paper is a bit too vintage for todays styled rooms Geewis I sound like a designer with attitude. I’m sorry you have done wonderful work here. Cheers

    • Thanks Sue, yes designer with attitude for sure! Haha, no problem, to each his own. But I will say that I used this paper as part of a story all about patina and vintage style, so that was the reason I went with such an old-timey design. Not really contemporary at all, but in the right space (maybe a room you don’t use all the time?) it can be fun. I’ve used wallpaper in my new house too, but went with a more subtle/classic colour scheme to avoid getting tired of it too soon.


  5. The room looks utterly lovely. Love how you aged the wallpaper with the power sander — great idea!!!

  6. This turned out beautifully. LOVE the wallpaper. So vintage!

  7. Aisling says:

    Michael, I love it. I actually cannot wait to try this out myself.. Well done :)

  8. Mike says:

    Michael, I love geraniums too & usually grow several types; I love their range of colour & fragrance. The “Vancouver Centennial”‘is one of my faves & I actually learned of it from your style maven of choice, Martha! If you’re growing this one you should,it’s gorgeous.

  9. very nice paper… it’s perfect for an older home. So much character and I love Donna’s work! She was at my place for a photo shoot too! can’t wait to it them in prints.

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