If you have been following the gloomy and shocking HBO TV series Chernobyl, besides witnessing the unfolding of events, you are also wonderfully shot back to an era in time in the ’80s Ukraine, when the wallpaper would match a Betsey Johnson dress!
Every single scene in a Ukraine home in the series seems to have a wild print on the walls, each one more extravagant than the next. Some wallpaper is matching a couch or nightdress or headboard of the bed. Thanks to TV shows like this, and any time-based series starting back to the 70s, we get to enjoy a moment in history when wallpaper was all the rage.
There was a brief period of about 20 or 30 years or so where our parents ripped down the ’70s and then ’80s wallpaper, hoping to just let the paint do its job. But maybe this wasn’t the case in Israel. I have done some extensive wall work in my home in Jaffa and I uncover no layers of wallpaper, only paint, about 6 layers deep stretching back 100 years.
Wallpaper archeology in Israel
As a wallpaper archeologist, I find few clues that wallpaper was even here in Israel.
If I look at the trailer to Munich, the well-made Spielberg period film, about the Munich massacre of Israelis at the Olympics, I see no wallpaper on the Israeli set, but yes on the European walls.
It is true that a lot of the walls in Israel and the Middle East region for that matter do not seem suited to wallpaper because the older homes are made from cement casting and most walls have a smooth plaster finish done by hand. But now with the advent of high-rises and more earth conscious ways of remodelling your home (and envy for American straight and flat walls), it’s becoming more acceptable to wallpaper your home in Israel. I suggest going back to our yearning for vintage wallpaper and add some to your life.
Israelis seem to like vintage wallpaper and organic, natural wallpaper too. There is an entire Etsy store section set up for it. Young Israelis, even new parents, also now rent their apartments, and wallpapering is an easy way to make a rental yours without doing any major structural change or renovation.
Also every fall when it starts to rain the roof leaks, and the walls weep, sometimes parts of the wall split open. Wallpaper can be a nice way to hide walls that have a less than savoury way of behaving in the Middle East winters.
And isn’t it just so, we always seem to yearn for those things, the fashion, the food, the style, we had in our childhood. When I go home to my parent’s home in Canada I like to sit in the closet (where traces of the old walls remain) and remember the times I had as a kid in my patchwork bellbottoms, jumping around off cushions of the velvet couch, wild. Wallpaper allows us to do that. It’s like a time machine. Like a change in fashion or adding a plant to your living room, wallpaper can suddenly enliven a room, breathing into a fresh feeling or reminding you of an old memory. Even if just for a season or two.
Wallpaper like Lenny
If you have seen the Lenny Kravitz video of his dream home, now organic farm in Brazil, you will also see a house full of wallpaper. But it’s not what it looks like. In some rooms it is black on white and in stark contrast a minimal white on white in others.
Lenny wants to slow down his life, take it to another gear after living so quick and fast as a world-famous rock icon. “I was traveling all over the country (Brazil), becoming increasingly attracted to the people, the culture, the music, and the land as well. There’s something incredibly powerful and majestic about this place,” Kravitz told the team from Architectural Digest about his new farm in the jungle.
His wallpaper I learn is custom made, and is actually a massive mural painting right on the walls by an artist friend of his, but if you aren’t pulling in a trust fund and live beside a pile of unemployed artists willing to wallpaper by hand, consider buying a few rolls of someone else’s design. There are limitless styles to choose from, unlike a painting if a section gets stained or damaged you can simply cover it with a patch or fresh roll. If you have experience wallpapering in Israel let me know. I am curious about how it lasts over time.