Expressions of patriotism in home décor date back to before this country was born. Actually, they first appeared on painted Chinese rice paper as early as 200 B.C. In more recent times, American folk art furniture is replete with stars, stripes and primitive renderings of our earliest flag.
Yet, ours is not the only country to utilize patriotic themes in decorating. Nor are we the only nation to celebrate freedom and independence in documentary wallpaper and fabric prints.
In the archives of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York, there is a piece of 18th-century handprinted wallpaper depicting themes that replaced the symbols of monarchy in France during the French Revolution.
As America prepares to celebrate its 227th year of independence, we’re experiencing a renewed sense of patriotism. Whether you’re an ardent flag-waver or a more subtle celebrant of the red, white and blue, this anniversary presents an opportune time for citizens and home decorating trend-setters alike to show their colors. The classic combination of red, white and blue is “in,” at home and around the world.
In honor of the nation’s birthday, two very different approaches to rallying around the flag unfurl in Parasol, a wallpaper and fabric collection from Jaima Brown Home, my new signature brand for S.A. Maxwell Co. One approach is hearty; the other, subdued. What’s more, the themes and designs in Parasol can be mixed and matched, so those who use them can achieve their own level of affectionate display for the land they love.
Toiles de juoy are among the most popular wallpaper and fabric pattern motifs today for good reason. They provide a non-intrusive, subtle pattern that is relaxing, and at the same time increasingly interesting as the various sketched drawings in the pattern come into focus. Toiles are simple, yet elegant and easy to use alone or in combination with other designs. Typically, their images tell a story.
For Parasol, we created “Independence Day Toile,” an all-American version of this European motif. It tells the story of our independence with such familiar images as the U.S. Capitol Building and our founders signing the Bill of Rights.
The print is offered in both wallpaper and fabric, so we used “Independence Day Toile” for upholstery, draperies and wallpaper in a traditional-style living room, then gave it the coordinated accent of two different stripe patterns on decorative pillows.
We then papered the ceiling in a coordinating “Federal Harlequin” wallpaper pattern from Parasol. This is a red-and-white room with a very quiet Wow! The sensation doesn’t hit with a jolt; it grows as you settle in.
Another American patriot-inspired room stands in stark contrast, using vivid symbols of Americana at every turn. Wallpaper with crossed flags against a deep blue ground are framed in crisp, white molding. For added interest, the various flags in the pattern show and date the historic evolution Old Glory has taken. As additional states joined the union, more stars adorned our flag, and all the variations are shown in the pattern. The surrounding flag border alternates Betsy Ross’s initial design with a later model.
“Independence Day Toile” also appears here, in fabric, on a simple roller window shade. A variety of coordinating checkered and striped fabrics are used on linens for the antique bed, painted white. Bolder elements of our grand old flag make the seating — an antique occasional chair — a stand-out, not only on the Fourth of July, but every day.