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Home > Publications > Historic New England Magazine > Summer 2004 > From Old Houses to Your Walls

From Old Houses to Your Walls


ABOVE  A selection of reproduction papers based on SPNEA originals in Brewster Wallcovering's newest collection.

This summer, a handsome collection of reproduction wallpapers based on originals owned by SPNEA is being introduced by Brewster Wall-covering Company, a licensee in the Historic New England reproductions program. For more than a year, designers from Brewster surveyed SPNEA's vast collection and worked with curators to identify suitable patterns and adapt them for production. The papers include maritime motifs, chinoiserie, damask, floral, fruit, and animal patterns and range in style from arts and crafts to mid-twentieth-century retro. In producing the collection, Brewster took care to coordinate the papers with paint colors in SPNEA's popular Historic Colors of America paint chart, thus making it easy for homeowners to achieve a complete decorative scheme on walls and trim. Papers and paint colors may be combined to create a historical environment at affordable prices.

Brewster's manufacturing process, which combines state-of-the-art technology with traditional methods, imparts rich color and surface texture to its papers. Although the transfer of pattern to the print rollers is performed through the use of computer technology, the application of inks to paper is often done on machinery that is more than a hundred years old. In surface printing, one of the traditional methods used by Brewster, the printing is done on an 1898 machine with rollers engraved by laser. There is a separate roller for each color, and the machine operator must check the registration by eye while the job is running. The colors are applied to the paper wet on wet, with no drying in between, which creates a slight bleeding of colors for a subtle texture that gives the wallpaper a hand-crafted look. The care with which the collection is executed allows the beauty of the original motifs and colors to shine.

-Carol Bruce
Licensing & Merchandising Manager

The papers may be purchased directly from Brewster retailers. Please visit, send an e-mail to contact, or call (800) 366-1701. The Historic Colors of America paint chart of 149 colors may be ordered from SPNEA's museum shop. To find out more about the Historic New England collection of reproduction products, please call (617) 227-3957, ext. 237, or email

From Old Houses to Your Walls