When I moved to the UK way back in 2001, I admit, I had no idea what Anaglypta was, I just knew that in American homes, it wasn’t particularly common as far as I was aware. I saw it in plenty of homes here, though, and after a while, came to understand it was something entirely undesirable. Like woodchip wallpaper and thick swirly Artex, these were essentially echos of a previous time where textured walls were all the rage and they were set up as easy fixes to cover uneven, old plaster walls.
As more and more people renovated their homes, the patterned thick vinyl Anaglypta was removed, walls were freshly skimmed and clean, unbroken areas were painted over. House buyers breathed a collective sigh of relief when viewing properties where this work had already been done and all anyone wanted was the quiet that decended on a room after it was painstakingly removed.
However, unlike woodchip wallpaper and Artex (neither of which I particularly like!), I actually quite liked the raised ornate patterns of Anaglypta. Did you know that Anaglypta is one of the world’s OLDEST wallpaper brands? It was actually formed back in 1887 by Thomas Palmer during Queen Victoria’s reign (two years before my home was built!) and the word ‘anaglypta’ was actually taken from the greek language, meaning ‘raised cameo’. It was the very first paintable wallpaper where the designs were pressed into the paper so that the surface could be painted in any colour you wished. Genius!
Now, that pressed pattern really appealed to my maximalist tendencies and I thought the patterns quite pretty. I kept this quiet of course. It was like saying you really fancied shag rugs or the avocado suite in your nan’s bathroom (the shag rugs are back, I’ve no doubt at some point the avocado suite may be too but you get my drift).
Being an American ex-pat, I think, made a difference here. The fact is, I’d never lived through a time when Anaglypta was used on every wall of a house and so I didn’t have any memories of it being something hopelessly old-fashioned. As a result, it didn’t have that eye-roll-inducing look about it shared by so many of my British friends when viewing it – there was no nolstalgic filter. As it was never a part of my past, I had no negative associations with the style.
Of course, over the course of living here for nearly two decades, everything that’s old is new again and it seems Anaglypta is beginning to shake off it’s ‘undesireable’ moniker – at least with those who try to keep ahead of the trend curve. I know a lot of people who still think it’s a “design crime” and wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot roller!
This was taken when we had our second viewing – I loved it so hard, I took a picture of it!
When we first viewed our home, it was one of the first things I’d noticed. It was on all the walls and ceilings of our hallway (more on that in a bit) but in most of the rooms, it was only on the ceiling. Now, our ceilings aren’t ridiculously high but they are just over 9 feet tall which goes a long way in making a room feel a little bigger (I do think the high ceilings make a difference here which is why I mention it – a pattern on a low ceiling might have just closed things in but on a high ceiling, it just worked).
All I knew is that despite the fact our home desperately needed to be updated, I wanted to keep those ceilings. I loved the patterns against the ornate ceiling roses. It didn’t feel like an echo of the 1970s or 1980s, it felt like an echo of the Victorian era our home was built.
I love the contrast between the patterned ceiling in the dining room and the smooth ceiling in the kitchen – as the extension in the kitchen is a contemporary addition, I wanted to retain the old vs new in the aesthetic. But for the older original rooms, I feel it fits in so nicely.
It’s probably a contentious opinion, I realise, and I’ve no doubt I’ll get comments from people saying it’s horrible but well, this is my home which we plan to live in for many years. So, to them I’ll preempt their comments with, ‘it’s fine, you do what you like in your own home’. ;)
Going back to our hallway, it’s on all the walls and ceilings but because we’ve had the electrics replaced and we’re currently sporting a rather large hole in the wall of the stairs, it will all have to be removed as it’s taken way too much damage. I am tempted, however, to replace it below the dado rail and skim the area above.
My point being that if you fancy trying it, you certainly don’t have to use it everywhere. I think, depending how intricate the pattern, it can overwhelm a space when used everywhere and perhaps that’s what people find objectionable. But if you use it in unexpected places (the ceiling) or as an accent (below or above a dado rail), then suddenly, it becomes much more stylish. Paint it in a trendy colour and it comes to life.
Anaglypta Derby – how amazing is that gold paint on it?!
Unlike normal wallpaper, if you tire of the look, you don’t have to fully remove it. I think it’s easier to live with than wallpaper as it’s only adding texture which can be a bit more quiet when it’s all in the same colour and you won’t tire of it as quickly either – if you fancy a change, simply paint it a different colour.
Anaglypta Alfred from Rockett St George looking sexy AF in a dark colour
deVOL’s Haberdashery Kitchen at The Cotes Mill sporting Anaglypta on the ceiling
With the trend towards textured walls, I think it’s time for Anaglypta to make its comeback. It comes in so many different designs as well and well, if it’s good enough for Rockett St George, it’s good enough for me too. I’d love to know if you would give Anaglypta a chance in your own home?
This post is in no way sponsored by Anaglypta, I just wanted to share my thoughts on it!