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When I moved into my cozy (read: small) Craftsman (read: dark) Brooklyn townhouse, I knew I was in love with the original details and prewar charm. (Who needs central air, anyway?) But I also knew that updating the decor while retaining the historical vibe could prove challenging, particularly as I looked for pieces that played nice with my heavy oak moldings.

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The entryway and stairwell seemed particularly grim, and my husband and I decided early on that we wanted to wallpaper it. But after hours of trolling the internet, we couldn’t agree on a pattern. This one was too “old lady,” that one too trendy.

That’s when we turned to Jess Murphy, a surface pattern designer (who cut her teeth working for brands like Dwell Studio and Anthropologie) and founder of creative consulting studio The Lawns, for help designing a custom pattern. Here’s how it all went down.

consulting about custom wallpaper
Sinna Nasseri

The Consultation

I first met with Murphy last spring to discuss wallcovering basics and the general vibe of what I might like. Did I want something painterly or graphic? A simple print or an intricate vignette? We looked at photos of my house to figure out a palette and browsed gorgeous archival prints, from which Murphy draws much of her inspiration. 

“It’s a visual process through and through,” says Murphy. “My archive helps break down any ‘design language’ barriers there may be by illustrating different styles and motifs, so it’s a good place to start. We’ll discuss your space, any references you may have, and together come up with a set of guiding principles I can take back to the studio.”

I mentioned my love of pineapples, and we quickly agreed that was a great starting point. She then moved ahead with designs for a bright, painterly botanical with pineapples mixed in.

finalizing a custom walllpaper design
Sinna Nasseri

Finalizing the design

After our meeting, Murphy took my kooky directive (1920s Hawaii with a modern sensibility!) and made a series of sketches for my review. Because she draws everything by hand, it was easy to ask for changes—let’s make this flower more ornate, that bird a little smaller—until we both felt it was right. She then presented me with several different colorways, and we noodled with hues before settling on a peach ground with pops of blue, green and maroon. Just to make sure I was really, really happy, she gave me a test print to hang on my wall. And I’m glad she did, because I ended up making one more tiny change (the green tone looked a little too bluish). 

installing custom wallpaper
Sinna Nasseri

Printing and Installation

Murphy works directly with printers and handles all communication about color, paper type and the like, so once I gave the final OK, she placed the order and a heavy roll arrived at my house several weeks later. As for the installation itself, I suppose if you’re super crafty, you could DIY it. But because I’m decidedly not, I hired a professional installer who had it up in two days flat (and also helped me estimate how much square footage I’d need).

custom wallpaper in a stairwell
Jillian Quint

Life with My New Wallpaper

The “Quint Botanical”—yes, it will bear your name—has been up for a few months now, and every day I love it more and more. It’s bold. It’s bright. It perfectly fits our home’s history, while also nodding to something specific about our family. (My husband and I both have pineapple tattoos, in case you were wondering.) I also thrill in knowing that I had a hand in the creation.

Want more info?

Head to The Lawns Collective (or check out their Instagram profile) to inquire about custom services and submit your request. Prices vary greatly by size, intricacy and time, but Murphy and her team will do their best to work within a specific budget. 

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