Posted on | December 16, 2008 | 3 Comments
When you think of wallpaper styles common to the Arts & Crafts era these popular patterns from the 1907 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Wallpaper catalogue might not be the first to come to mind. Almost “hangovers” from the late Victorian era, these profusely patterned paper combinations were really the antithesis of the simplicity and aesthetic repose that the Arts & Crafts reformers were advocating. And yet, thousands of self-respecting American bungalows and “four-squares” as well as other Edwardian vernaculars were ultimately adorned with elaborate “Rococo” ceiling, frieze and wall fill combinations just like these.
Why? Traditionally, popular styles of decorating were (and still are) often decided by such constraints as availability, and with the advent of Rural Free Delivery in 1896 early mail-order companies like Sears made their catalogs and products amazingly accessible (and thus familiar) to their most remote customers, most of whom were dwelling far from the fashionable showrooms of the day. And owing to mass production the “Cheapest Supply House on Earth,” could also offer their “interior appointments” at rock bottom prices, another huge reason for their historical popularity. Like them or not, they certainly have a unique place in the history of American interior decoration.
Incidentally, it was just one year later that Sears developed their first specialty catalog issued for complete prefabricated houses, the “Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans”, featured 22 styles ranging in price from $650–2,500.