Flourishing from around 1880–1910, the Arts & Crafts movement provided an antidote to the poorly designed and inferior-quality, machine-made products associated with the industrialism of the Victorian age. Instead, importance was placed on elevating the role of the artisan, the decorative arts, craftsmanship, honest materials and simplicity of form within domestic design. Visually, this philosophy was expressed through a myriad of styles and mediums, from humble wooden furniture to ornate surface design.
Taking inspiration from nature and a medieval aesthetic, leading figures such as William Morris and Charles Voysey created stylised flora and fauna patterns for wallpapers and fabrics, many for the decorating firm Morris & Co founded by the father of the movement himself in 1861. With enduring appeal, these beautiful prints, whether archive originals or recoloured designs, look just as effective today, bringing visual delight and a sense of British heritage into the home.
1. Wall to wall print
With a penchant for ornament, the Victorians used every surface as a vehicle for decoration and often pasted richly decorative papers floor to ceiling. Featuring one of Morris & Co’s most iconic Arts & Crafts designs dating to 1883, this Strawberry Thief wallpaper is a perfect backdrop for the curvaceous silhouette of a classic Chesterfield and deep-buttoned armchair.
2. Co-ordinating colours
Using a feature archive wallpaper as inspiration, updated in a fresh palette, choose cushions and upholstery in bold complimentary hues to give the Arts & Crafts look a contemporary edge.
3. Make an entrance
Give guests a stylish welcome by pasting up feature wallpaper in the hallway. With delicate flowers and sinuous, stylised leaves, this Larkspur design created by Morris in 1872 is one of the most feminine in the Morris & Co portfolio.
4. Beautiful bedding
Bringing the Morris legacy into the 21st-century home, archive prints are also available across bedlinen, including this Seaweed pattern, designed by J. H. Dearle in 1901, which brings colour and pattern to this muted scheme.
5. Authentic appeal
For an authentic feel combine stylised prints with wood panelling as often seen in Arts & Crafts interiors of the time. This Pimpernel wallpaper was designed in 1876 by Morris and adorns his dining room at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, London.
6. Pretty pastels
For a modern twist on the traditional look trade in the dark and sludgy palettes partial with the Victorians for natural prints in sorbet shades. Inspired by Arts and Crafts prints, this new Botanical fabric from Sofa.com features on-trend coral and grey for a calming contemporary scheme.
7. Rustic cottage
To celebrate craftsmanship, nature and nostalgia was the Morris philosophy, so what better place to showcase his prints then in a historic country cottage? This woodland-inspired wallpaper looks the part alongside rustic terracotta floor tiles, vintage Welsh wool blankets and needlework samplers.
8. Mix and match
Using colour for continuity, layer exuberant natural prints with simple ditsy and contrasting designs such as tartan to create a rich, textured look. This Bramble wallpaper from Morris & Co was designed by Kate Faulkner in 1879 and depicts a creeping briar, resplendent with berries and flowers.
9. Wonderful windows
Make a feature of your windows in true period style with heavy curtains in richly ornate fabric. Based on artwork by Morris & Co’s head designer Alison Gee, this Forest velvet captures the whimsy of an enchanted woodland through beautifully illustrated flora and fauna.
10. Feature floor
As well as across wallpapers, fabrics and bedding, the decorative motifs of Morris & Co are now available for every surface including underfoot.
11. Leafy backdrop
Archive wallpapers depicting a rich tapestry of natural motifs, brought to life in jewel and earthy tones, are the perfect foil for traditional joinery, natural fibres and artisan ceramics. Taken from the archive at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester this Vine wallpaper, dating to 1932, gives an unmistakeable nod to the Arts & Crafts movement.
12. Statement sofa
A deep-cushioned seat covered in the blousy blooms and stylised, fruit-laden branches of Arts & Crafts prints makes for a sumptuous statement piece. Produced in 1911 by an anonymous artist, this Meadow Fruits design is thought to be inspired by the Mille-Fleurs tapestries of the medieval period.
Shown in Indigo/Multi, the fabric costs £59 per m from the Originals V Print collection at GP & J Baker
13. The artist’s hand
Fluid and bountiful, this Bacchus wallcovering is based on a handpainted design by decorative artist Melissa White and has a distinct Arts & Crafts feel with a delightful handcrafted charm that beautifully compliments uneven walls of period homes.