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WALLS : Do-It-Yourselfers Get the Hang of Nature, Country and Denim

August 20, 1994|BARBARA MAYER | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nearly 70% of all wall coverings sold in the United States and Canada are hung by do-it-yourselfers. And a prime time for such projects, it seems, is once the kids are back in school.

With that in mind, the Wallcoverings Assn. has planned a month of activities through Sept. 30, including in-store promotions and clinics to help consumers select patterns and colors.

The industry introduces new patterns monthly, with each sample book taking about nine months from conception to delivery. Typically, each book is in circulation for about three years. A popular pattern might last longer, either reissued in a new color or in the same color in a new book.

Wall coverings are selected to coordinate with other home furnishings, so wallpaper designers have to keep up with the trends, says Jeanne Byington of New York, speaking for the association.

Currently, interest in nature has led to wall coverings with an environmental theme. And even after years of popularity, the country look has yet to peak.

"Denim is coming on strong," says Elinor Shebar, director of design for Village Wallcoverings in New York. "We'll be seeing stone-washed denim, blue and red denim and a denim border coupled with stripes."

One change from traditional children's room patterns is the new Children for the Earth collection from Roysons Corp. of Rockaway, N.J. It includes 18 designs focused on nature. An endangered species pattern, for example, depicts baby pandas, polar bears, Siberian tigers and elephants. Another pattern, Keep It Wild, is animals in a rain forest, available by the roll or as a 7-by-9-foot mural.

The Storyland collection from Motif Designs in New Rochelle, N.Y., pairs an environmental theme with adventure narratives. On one pattern, sea lions and Eskimos are afloat on icebergs. On another, climbers scale mountain peaks, and a third shows what designer Ristomatti Ratia refers to as fisherkids casting their lines.

A Poets Journal wallpaper border from Sanitas Wallcoverings might appeal to a preteen girl who loves to read. The border, which accompanies a wall covering with a repeat floral motif, has individual squares with a floral spray and a verse by a well-known poet. Sanitas is a subsidiary of GenCorp, Hackensack, N.J., and the border is in the company's Ribbons & Bows Volume 2 collection.

Those who yearn for small-town life at the turn of the century might enjoy the Old Farmer's Almanac collection from Seabrook Designs of Memphis. One of the designs duplicates pages from an old almanac. There are also novelty borders. One of the most popular depicts laundry day on the farm.

A number of the new collections are a reprise of current decorating themes. Among them are the Edwardian look in Village Wallcoverings' Eaton Square II book and the classic French looks in Stroheim & Romann's Classic Gallery II collection.

The apparel look is also reprised in Menswear Patchwork, with paisley and foulard tie motifs. It's in the J.G. Hook Bed & Breakfast collection from Fashon, a subsidiary of GenCorp.

Using wallpaper as a basis for a room scheme gets progressively easier with matching and coordinating fabrics and ready-made bedding and window treatments on the rise. Nearly all of the new collections include fabric. Many also have bedding and window treatments--and crib accessories for juvenile designs--to order. Prices for the wall coverings are about $20 a single roll, borders $15 to $23 for five-yard lengths and fabric about $30 a yard.

The industry term for this coordination is cross-merchandising. While helpful, there's a danger of the consumer getting carried away.

"Don't get to the point where you expect everything to match," says Edna Stern Finegold, executive vice president of Jolie Papier in Glendale, N.Y. "Remember when shoes had to match your pocketbook and both were dyed to match your dress?

"We should watch that the mix and match trend doesn't go too far."

For further information:

Roysons Corp.: (201) 625-5570.

Motif Designs: (800) 431-2424.

Sanitas: (201) 489-0100.

Village: (800) 523-1200.

Stroheim & Romann: (212) 486-1500.

Seabrook Designs: (800) 238-9152.

Fashon: (201) 489-0100.

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