Wallpaper “Foto Murals” of California

Posted on | October 24, 2008 | 4 Comments

One of the most welcome innovations in the mid-century suburban home was the use of larger “picture” windows or even huge walls of glass that welcomed in more light and, depending on the home’s location, the beauty of the outdoors.

That desire to bring the outdoors indoors soon spawned another creative idea: The wallpaper photo mural.

Although many of us might associate the concept of the photo mural with the 1970s or 80s this ad from the late 1950′s shows it had some very cool predecessors. These “Foto Murals of California” were described as “charming… dramatic… restful” and said to “transform entire walls into breathtaking outdoor scenes”. Available as a “sweeping 15 feet long by 6 feet high” they could be “bordered with drapes, frames, valances, or with complimentary wallpapers for larger walls”.

I love the top example with the drapes on either side, which really contributes to the an almost theatrical 3D effect. Notice too the “before and after” comparison.

The ad also mentions that these spectacular vistas could be ordered in black & white, (just like your favorite TV show?) and in “rich sepia”.

So would you hang a vintage photo mural?


4 Responses to “Wallpaper “Foto Murals” of California”

  1. Laurelberry1910
    October 29th, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

    The second mural from the top of the weathered tree on the beach was hug in my Grandmother’s basement. They had it framed in with scalloped wood trim to look like a large framed mural. I always thought it was rather odd as a child, and considering it was in the basement of a 1926 cottage in Salt Lake City, Utah it still seems odd today. What fun to see the origin of it and have the memory of it rekindled.

  2. steve
    October 29th, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

    It sounds like a nice memory, and maybe the picture reminded your grandmother of a trip to California? Or maybe it was just to brighten up, and “open up”, the basement room. In any case I appreciate your sharing the story with us, and the fact that some of these ended up in much older homes. Thanks!

  3. john hopper
    January 21st, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    I had no idea that the photo mural went back so far. Did it originate in the 1950s or can it be traced back to the 1940s?

    I think the idea of a black and white version to coincide with TV is an interesting idea of what was considered acceptable at the time.

  4. steve
    January 21st, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    I haven’t seen evidence of these from the 1940′s, but it would be interesting to research the home magazines from that decade. I almost imagine it springing from the same genre of 1950′s wallpapers that had the “travel” themes, or maybe it was the advent of Cinemascope (?)


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