Liz Libré, the artist behind the creative studio Linda & Harriett, has an affection for wallpapers. She used four different designs in her Brooklyn apartment, which she shares with her husband, two children and their dog. Since wallpaper has always been a decorating dream of mine (someday!), I was thrilled to take peek inside and hear how it helped transform a minimalistic space into a charming home…
Above: Master bedroom entryway, with Crescent Moons wallpaper by Bartsch, from Paris.
Why did you want to use wallpaper in this apartment?
Our last apartment was in an old brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was beautiful and full of character — creaky wood floors, exposed pipes — and there were many quirks, including mice. You didn’t have to work very hard to bring the place to life.
But, our new apartment was a white box when we moved in. It’s in a modern, new-construction apartment building and we live on a high floor. It has nice clean lines, but for us to feel at home, it really needed some warmth and personality. Wallpaper seemed like great way to add that.
What do you love the most about it?
There’s something so delightful about walking into a space and being surrounded by a pattern you feel a real connection to. It’s like walking into a giant hug. So nerdy, so true!
I recently read Marie Kondo’s book on de-cluttering (and I’ve happily started putting some of her methods into practice: bye bye, all of my clothes!) and I can completely get behind the idea of surrounding yourself with only things that spark joy. These wallpapers do that for me.
Choosing a wallpaper seems daunting. Where did you start?
For me, it was important to think about how wallpaper would fit in. I wanted it to feel both casual and like a bit of a visual treat. When we began decorating, I kept saying I wanted “a cabin in the sky.” We loved the convenience of a big modern building (hello, trash chute!) but we’re not squeaky clean people. We put our feet up on the coffee table, we throw water balloons in the bathroom, we have a 70-pound dog who’s allowed to lick our ankles. Nothing is precious or irreplaceable. So that’s the starting point for almost everything in our home, especially having two little people sharing this space.
Our interior designer friend Lizzy Sall has an impeccable eye and she helped us with so many design decisions in our apartment. I remember when Lizzy first sent us the link to the Crescent Moons wallpaper, and I liked it, but I wasn’t totally sure. Now it’s definitely my favorite. The pattern is a calm one, a perfect welcome to the place where you rest your head.
Above: Liz’s son’s bedroom, with Seascape wallpaper by Abigail Edwards, from England. Liz designed and drew the duvet cover’s pattern, which shows two make-believe dragon characters her son invented.
What about the paper in your son’s room?
The Seascape wallpaper has been a favorite of mine for years. I grew up going to the beach in the summer, and the ocean will always hold a special place in my heart, so I was attracted to the wave aspect immediately. The design is abstract enough to not feel too obviously beachy, and having a wave pattern in a city bedroom makes it even better.
We used it on just one wall in his room, which I think is a nice way to incorporate wallpaper in a bedroom without having it be the whole story in the space.
The wallpaper in your bathrooms really brings them to life. How did you decide on those?
I love wallpaper in small spaces, so I knew I wanted to use it in our bathrooms, which have no windows and are pretty sterile otherwise. Each wallpaper has a very visible handmade quality, which balanced out the minimalism of our bathrooms. I love anything hand-designed. That’s a big influence on my own work. When I can see the hand at play in something, I’m sold.
Jill Malek’s Dinner Party wallpapers, which have patterns based on wine glass stains, are fantastic. The design was a great fit for our powder room, which, somewhat unfortunately, sits right next to our dining table. (If you have a choice, don’t put your dining table next to the bathroom: Cheers! Flush. Awkward!)
The Ohoy wallpaper by Fine Little Day in our kids’ bathroom has been a favorite of mine for years. The drawings of ships, waves and a lighthouse were done by the designer’s eight-year-old son, Otto. She’s based in Sweden, and my husband is Swedish, so this was an easy sell for us. And, as parents to toddlers know, you spend a lot of time in the bathroom with your kids — making messes, getting clean, repeat, repeat — so this wallpaper gets enjoyed often!
What are some tips you’d pass on to someone considering wallpaper?
Make sure to measure accurately, and discuss the wallpaper with your installer prior to purchasing it, especially if you’re ordering it from another country. I ended up having to order more paper for two of the patterns we used because I hadn’t measured correctly. Also, like anything you bring into your home, I’d say to make sure there’s a real personal attraction to it. You should want to live with it. Having a friend with a good eye weigh in is always a good idea, too.
In terms of finding wallpapers, I always have luck browsing Design*Sponge and Remodelista for inspiration, and I’m excited about my friend Julia Rothman’s new wallpaper designs, coming out this month.
Are you thinking about papering any other walls?
We’re running out of surfaces to cover! But we’re going to Sweden this summer to visit my husband’s family and, now that we’ve talked so much about wallpaper in this interview, I might have to bring one home from the beautiful interior design shop, Svenskt Tenn. I passed on them the last time we were there, and to be surrounded by a Josef Frank pattern in my home would be a complete dream.
Thank you so much, Liz! What do you think? Are you a fan of wallpaper? Do you have any favorites in your home?
(Photos by Liz Libré)