A recreated 18th century wallpaper with patterns of Lily of the Valley is used in a modern bedroom interior.

No white walls – tradition, colour and interiors

Three years ago, interiors photographer and trend expert Jorunn Tharaldsen arrived at Maria Horgen’s door, ready to photograph her beautiful home. Within half an hour they had decided to co-author a book.

Jorunn and Maria really love colour. Their book, Dusty, a celebration of Norwegian colours took them on a research road trip around the country and it was on this spontaneous adventure that they stumbled upon a whole new line of business.

“Our main goal was to tell people that it’s ok to choose colours for your homes,” explains Maria, an Interior Architect. “It's unnatural for us to live in a white box. Why live in a white box? Having colours around you is so much better for your soul, your family, your creativity. Everything is better when you have colours on the wall.”

It's unnatural for us to live in a white box.   Why live in a white box?   Having colours around you is so much better for your soul.

Their travels took them to well-known locations, like the historic mining town of Røros, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to investigate buildings and document the interiors. But it was the Vest-Agder-Museum Gimle Gård, an old manor house dating from about 1800, where Jorunn and Maria discovered an Art Nouveau wallpaper that represented everything ‘Dusty’ stood for.

Originally the country home of a wealthy merchant, The Gimle Estate in Kristiansand dates back to 1800, when it was surrounded by farmland and had a clear view of the sea. The simple exterior of the house is deceptive. Inside, it is a riot of colour – paintings, objet d’art, rococo and empire-style furniture, intricate chandeliers and books bound in a splendid array of coloured leathers.

Gimle Gård Manor House in Kristiansand
Gimle Gård Manor House in Kristiansand. (©Vest-Agder-museet)

But the backdrop for these collected treasures – the century old wallpapers – stopped Maria and Jorunn in their tracks. They felt “overwhelmed” by a gentle design featuring lilies of the valley.

“I really wanted this in my home,” says Jorunn. “So, we got in touch with Canon who told us that it’s possible if we have a digital file that we can use. I went back to take pictures of the wall, but it was so broken…”

Maria picks up, “It was sun damaged, water damaged, faded from age.”

Many people might have simply shrugged and moved on, but, as you might expect from two tenacious strangers who had dropped everything to co-author a book, they refused to admit defeat. Instead, they tried to track down the origins of the paper, hitting dead end after dead end.

Eventually their search lead them to a man who recognised the design and identified it as the work of one of two factories, both of which were long gone.

“So, we had to make it ourselves.”

A close up of the damaged original heritage wallpaper, with Lily of the Valley print.
The original paper was “sun damaged, water damaged, faded from age.”
(© Jorunn Tharaldsen)

This was something completely new to the pair and they needed advice, which came, again, from the digital imaging experts at Canon Norway. They worked with Jorunn to help her understand the best way to capture the wallpaper and process the images for commercial print.

She took her digital files and set to work on Adobe PhotoShop. “I had just finished the first and Maria said, ‘are we going to make it in another colour?’ Argh! I’d been literally working for three weeks, day and night!” Thankfully, by then they were firm friends and Jorunn spent the following week on another version of the wallpaper in a fresh, new ‘Dusty’ colour.

The spark of an idea that took Maria and Jorunn on a journey of colour discovery was taking a new and exciting direction. They were to take the Gimle wallpapers to market in a range of new colours, based on the original design. It was the perfect timing – interior fashions were looking to the past to give modern homes a twist, so when Dusty’s heritage range was launched at the Oslo Design Fair, the Norwegian interior design industry was thrilled.

“People love how there is history attached to this wallpaper. Interior magazines in particular always touch on this wallpaper. We’ve only produced one wallpaper in this way and it’s been mentioned in every interior magazine in Norway!”

It’s just the beginning of Jorunn and Maria’s new enterprise and already the Gimle papers are stocked at several luxury stores. But expansion is very much on the horizon, as they look at print in new ways.

We’ve only produced one wallpaper in this way and it’s been mentioned in every interior magazine in Norway!

“I’ve also helped on a project to reproduce a wallpaper from the 1960s,” says Jorunn. “And another from a museum where a painted wall can be reproduced as a paper. We’re also printing the same design onto tiles. It´s been an adventure to work with Canon on this project. Helping me being able to take on new specialist projects in the field of rehabilitation of heritage buildings and turning old hand painted walls or tiles into wallpaper by working digital.”

“There are so many things you can print on” adds Maria. “The sky is the limit!”

Dusty’s Gimle wallpapers are available via Jorunn and Maria’s website.

Written by Rosie Harries

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