The 70+ examples shown below all come from the Sears “Color Perfect” wallpaper catalog published in 1940. The styles run the gamut — from quaint and whimsical, to elegant and classic, to the heavy and ornamental papers that went out of fashion decades ago.
Still, these little wallpaper samples give us a fascinating little look into the past of what our American family members looked for in home decor… and, in turn, what they looked at on their own walls every day.
Wallpaper fashions change yearly (1940)
From the News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio) February 27, 1940
Fashions in wallpaper, like fashions in clothes, change from year to year. The changes are gradual, and not always noticeable at first glance, but change they do according to M. E. Cole, manager of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass company.
You might suppose that a Colonial wallpaper, for example, would remain unaltered from season, but this is not the case. Subtle changes in both design and color give new life to ideas that are centuries old, so that your Colonial house, for instance, while keeping an unmistakable eighteenth-century charm, is nevertheless as up to the minute as today’s newspaper.
There is a definite trend toward patterns that have dignity plus imagination — a new version of tried and proven Colonial designs that are eminently suitable for the contemporary American home. Instead of copying antique papers slavishly, the wallpaper style leader has adopted, to a certain extent, the philosophy of the contemporary decorator, who strives for the expression of an idea rather than correctness alone.
Not only are these new papers as beautiful as the antique ones, but they are practical as well.
Imperial papers, as an example, are made washable and fast to light so that their beauty will endure and you need have no fear of extravagance when you decide to use them in your home. Stripes, with an incredible number of variations, have revived a fashion that was at its height in the early eighteen hundreds.
Columns of flowers or quaint landscapes are separated by stripes of filigree or plain bands of contrasting color. Plain stripes in every conceivable width and combination of color are more important than ever, blending with uncanny ease into any scheme of decoration.
For dramatic decor, there are stripes with startling contrasts; for more low-keyed livable rooms there are stripes of all types and widths blended with an appropriate subtlety.
Also new in the field of wallpaper is the ensembling of two and sometimes three papers. There has always been great difficulty in finding papers for adjoining rooms which have a decoratively sound relation to each other. Now, with sympathetic foresight, this problem has been overcome.
Most often, two papers are planned with identical colored backgrounds, but with complementary patterns. Thus, an arrangement of soft-toned medallions separated with subtle stripes will have for its companion paper the same Imperial design with the stripes omitted, or with the stripes retained and the medallion omitted.
72 vintage wallpaper samples
Large-scale patterns of exceptional beauty
… in harmonizing colors and designs from which you may select papers for your whole house… and so lovely, your friends will exclaim, “Where did you find that beautiful wallpaper?”
All are washable, sunfast quality, illustrated here to show you more of the design.
Papers with a special air — for special rooms
Let your imagination go in the rooms you’d like to make different — a child’s room, den, breakfast nook or kitchen, your own room — it’s half the fun of homemaking. You can give them just the air you want — gay, witty, informal, sentimental and thoroughly enjoyable — with the bright colors and pert, appropriate motifs of Color-Perfect wallpapers.
Amazing values in wallpaper!
Wallpaper is a great value for your home. Every pattern is printed on standard quality 9-oz. paper stock with fadeproof colors . . . every roll semi-trimmed! Priced as low as 5c a single roll, but comparable in value to papers selling up to 30c!
To you, this means good decoration at sound savings … it means decoration that will not fade for years … it means that the Color-Perfect wallpaper you have chosen has been rigidly tested to meet the highest standards of quality established by the wallpaper industry. For washable quality papers, see the Budget and Decorator groups.