In love with wallflowers ... looking for a change

Tara Kaprowy

Right now, instead of writing this column, I am staring at the elaborate flower designs on the wallpaper that is in front of me. The flowers are so ornate, they look a little otherworldly, with curli-cues twirling inside them, thistle bits, fringed petals, gold strands, and equally regal leaves to match.

I've spent a lot of time staring at these flowers since they appeared on the walls of my office a few months ago. And I simply cannot believe how much joy they bring me. In fact, I don't think I'll ever tire of looking at them -- or of putting off my writing for the day.

Still, it merits mention that if I had seen these flowers 15 years ago, my reaction would have been to cringe at how grandiose they were and feel sorry for the owner who had them pasted on their walls.

I felt this way about just any wallpaper pattern back then. I remember the first time I visited my then-boyfriend's house and noticed that he had one bathroom that was equestrian themed. Central to establishing this theme? Wallpaper featuring gilded horses in various positions.

At the time, I remember thinking that it was possible I didn't know my then-boyfriend -- who was modern, who was brilliant, who was young, wasn't he? -- at all. He had never mentioned an intense love of horses, one so intense he dedicated a whole bathroom to it. Was this just a Kentucky thing? Requisite in every house in honor of the Derby?

He assured me the wallpaper was left over from previous owners and then made this argument: what are you supposed to do with a room already coated in equine? You run with it.

I accepted that argument (and pun), but after I moved in with him, one of the first things I did, with nary a neigh, was take those horses down. We painted those walls a very boring beige, and I was positive, so very positive, that in so doing I was establishing a quiet sophistication that would never get old.

I'm not sure why I was so resistant to wallpaper (or, umm, color) back then. It's not as if I hadn't grown up with wallpaper I felt affection for. One wall in my bedroom growing up was buttercup yellow and featured pretty little blue flowers within its design. Our bathroom in the basement was lime green plaid and I always felt kind of proud of it.

Now I find myself thinking about those bathroom horses. Sure, there was a lot of gold. Sure, there was a lot of burgundy in the background. And forest. But there was something kind of cool about how unapologetic it all was.

In fact, ever since the flowers arrived in my office, I find myself reconsidering just about every wall in the house. These walls had been likewise covered in wallpaper in keeping with their 1989 (a particularly fearless year in terms of home décor) build. Now they're all various shades of beige.

And I can practically hear them screaming at me that they've got a lot more to offer.

Helping support my reconsideration is my dear friend Hannah. She is one of those friends who will get just as excited as I am over brass knickknacks. She has a collection of milk glass and jadeite hens that she proudly displays in her kitchen. The other day, I delivered her Mad Men-style, cloverleaf-shaped drinks table (that swivels!).

And she has wallpaper. Exquisite gold fans in one bathroom. Vintage cars in her son's nursery. Swirly shapes and designs in another bedroom.

The girl hasn't looked back.

So the hunt is on for some instant post-pandemic gratification. And that means bold, gold and sold.

In the meantime, I think I can hear your walls. They're talking to you too. And they're begging for change.

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