If you're restoring an old home or building, part of your task is making sure the interior reflects the age and beauty of the building. For example, if you are restoring a Victorian home, you may want to give a nod to the architectural period in the finishes. One of the simplest ways to stay true to a building's history is to make sure the interior decor, especially the wall finishes, are the right style and color. You can have a modern home with beautiful timeless design while also being willing to embrace period finishes.
Here are some wall finishes to consider.
Finishing walls with fabric may seem foreign to you now, but it was actually quite common in historical homes. You can still order fabric wall finishes that are tightly stretched and tacked. Your wall will not have any creases, wrinkles, or draping because the fabric is pulled so tightly over the space. Fabric finishes are nice for formal rooms, such as libraries, drawing rooms, morning rooms, or formal dining areas. They provide a depth of texture and warmth that can't be achieved by any other means. To be more true to times gone by, consider non-synthetic fabrics such as cotton canvas, velvet, muslin, or silk.
Before sheetrock became the standard for building, rooms were normally finished with layers of plaster. This plaster allowed for slight imperfections, but it also was long lasting and was simple to repair when it got damaged. Plaster could be tinted to bring color into a room. Typical colors included greens, pinks, white (or cream), and blues. You can still find craftsmen who finish rooms and even crown molding with plaster, but you can also get the plaster look by choosing newer plaster finishes made with latex and glaze mixed in with the paster. The result is a marbled, textured finish that is more washable and durable than older plaster styles.
Hire a painting contractor to recreate popular textured painting styles from the times. For example, Craftsman homes featured natural colors with natural textures. Some interior paint might feature the pattern of grass or leaves, or even vertical repeating stripes.
Murals were also common in many different styles of home. For example, scenes from nature were very popular during the Arts and Crafts period, with stenciling of flowers, wheat, trees, or leaves to reflect the outside world. These had a very definitive, Deco-like style, and you can still find these stencils today. A professional painting company can recreate stenciled interiors or interiors that were meant to show more than just one flat wall color. For example, in grader Colonial homes, you might even find clouds or a blue "sky" painted at the top of a spiral staircase on the ceiling.
Many modern families shy away from using wallpaper because they think of tacky borders with rows of sunflowers, cheap wallpapers from the 90s with badly colored stripes, or the hours spent removing a loud floral paper from a bathroom or dining room. However, wallpaper is one of the most authentic period finishes, and when chosen right (and when you get the right quality), you can't duplicate the beauty of the final result.
If you do decide on wallpaper, don't underestimate the value of a professional wallpaper hanger. Working with the walls in older houses can be tricky, and missed seams or poorly cut openings can ruin the effect of the paper on your wall. With good quality paper and a professional finish, your room will look beautiful for decades.
Research paper patterns from your home's time period and choose something that fits in, with a modern twist in color or style.