Category Archives: Traditional Heritage

Wallpaper news from Little Greene

News From Little Greene


New Wallpaper Collection – ‘Painted Papers’


On 23rd January we will be launching our new wallpaper collection ‘Painted Papers’, a definitive compendium of striped wallpapers produced using traditional printing methods.
More than ‘just plain stripes’, all eleven designs in ‘Painted Papers’ have been reworked from historic patterns sourced from several archives, including those at English Heritage and Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery. Faithful to the period in which they were designed, and with many of the colourways also boasting an authentic historic provenance, the wallpapers are nonetheless highly relevant for the 21st Century interior.

Each wallpaper has been produced using traditional surface-printing methods, which originally would have applied paint rather than ink, the production of these papers reflects very closely that used in previous centuries: it also gives them their delightfully tactile feel and slightly textured appearance.

Managing Director, David Mottershead expands on the collection: “In reviving these historic designs we have tried to create a collection to serve homes of all ages and decorative styles. There are also offerings from the early and mid-twentieth centuries, in colourways to suit both the timeless and the cutting-edge interior. As with our previous wallpaper collections, we have judiciously selected paint colours to coordinate or complement each design and tone, to aid selection and encourage the end user to be adventurous.”

‘Painted Papers’ will be launched at Maison et Object on 23 January 2015. The collection will be available nationally and internationally through our network of distributors, via telephone (0845 880 5855) and online (

Read more about each wallpaper design below:

A classic ‘Roman’ or Regency proportioned stripe, originally produced in the early 19th Century using the ‘open trough’ method. Using this technique, stripes were created by bands of paint seeping through holes or slots in the bottom of a wooden trough onto the surface of the paper as it was pulled beneath. Striped wallpapers manufactured in this way are characterised by a brushed finish which was later superseded by a flatter print achieved with 19th Century rollers, as can be seen in these papers. The grand scale of this par-ticular stripe is tempered by the restricted use of colour – in each case the stripe sits on a softer ground of the same hue, creating a wallpaper that brings a relaxed structure to a room, without being too formal.

The original wallpaper that inspired this design, found at a property in Carlisle Street in Soho, London, is actually a much more complex pattern than the ‘Painted Papers’ design that has been extracted from it. By removing the solid stripes and extraneous leaf trail, what remains is a wallpaper that achieves all-over pattern but, at the same time, highlights an elegant stripe.

In keeping with its sister wallpaper ‘Marlborough’ from Little Greene’s London Wallpapers II collection, the age of the paper on which this design is based is perhaps misleading in terms of its provenance. Dated at 1965, this particular fragment emerged during English Heritage’s restoration work at Marlborough House on Pall Mall, London, though this paper itself was undoubtedly based on a much earlier original. In Little Greene’s in-terpretation, the motif – which was in fact a flock – has been completely removed to leave a cleaner, more versatile stripe. In keeping with authentic methods of production, the background strié effect is achieved using a horsehair brush, with the stripe and gilded edges printed on top.

This design is an accurate reproduction of one of several wallpapers found in a private residence in St James Place, London, dating from around 1840. Its ornate, decorative detail gives it a subtle artisan quality, and the original, richly-coloured blue and red colourway, faithfully reproduced for this collection, is very typical of the Regency era.

Taking the exact proportion and structural quality of Broad Stripe, each band in this more complex version comprises 42 ‘pin stripes’, creating a sharper, more contemporary look that appeals at first glance and offers even more on closer inspection. Given its finer proportions, this design would have been virtually impossible to print before the arrival of the surface print roller in around 1840.

Very much a 20th century design, this is a 1950’s English pattern found at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. A band of fine, white stripes over flat grounds, it is actually the space between stripes that creates the subtle optical movement. The more complex striped versions contain an additional three ground colours each, and the ‘plain’ versions are produced in matching colourways to coordinate specifically with the different elements of the stripe, offering a highly flexible range of papers to be used in combination in traditional and contemporary homes alike.

PAINT SPOT (c.1830)
This design is a faithful reproduction of an historic French wallpaper. Perhaps surprisingly, the original hails from 1830 and was printed in a bold combination of yellow and pink. Particular attention is paid to the paint reticulation (also known as the seaweed effect) evident within the printed spot element, in giving orientation – there is a definite right and wrong way up for this paper to be hung!

Another 20th Century stripe, each of the papers in this design contains a judicious balance of six tightly packed colours, giving every one an overall theme and several opportunities for picking out painted walls and trim. It has been inspired by the way designers would ‘tag’ colours together when referencing interior design schemes, and as a consequence is inherently close to the way colours were handled by the fashion industry too.

Originally produced as a design on fabric, the larger scale production of this classic 19th Century stripe was a natural development from the early ‘open trough’ printing method referred to in ‘Broad Stripe’. Its name is taken from the Regency fashion of hanging fabrics in a room to create a ‘tented’ effect. The proportion of the elements within these stripes was typically fairly consistent, but the scale on which they were reproduced (and used) varied considerably. Having been shown extensively in its own right as a stripe, the design was subsequently popularised as a background to a range of larger overprinted designs, including French damasks.

THAMES (c.1851)
Faithfully reproduced, but increased in scale, from an eye-catching piece in the English Heritage archive, this historical panorama of the capital was published by London Illustrated News in 1851. The hand-drawn, hand-painted scene depicts the buildings and landscape along the river Thames at that time: it has subsequently been re-mastered to include a repeating section, meaning it can be now hung as a continuing frieze. The original would have been shown at cornice height, but for rooms of a more ‘conventional’ scale, it has been created to sit comfortably at dado or skirting height as well.

Little Greene Wallpaper


Linseed Paint Window Renovation

With the spring months approaching, they are, really they are. People start looking to the external of their property and one area that does require maintenance are wooden windows. While poorly fitting windows can be draughty, lack of maintenance can cause rot and dry window putty fall out, there are remedy and repairs for all aspects of wooden window frames.

Linseed paint restoration

Last year we worked on a nice project to refurbish the windows and doors of this listed property in Newport. During the initial meeting the client mentioned the use of linseed oil paint and having previously used this externally at St Fagans Museum and at a Carmarthenshire Farmhouse, we were happy to continue.

There are a number of different companies selling Linseed Paint, this time we used Holkham Linseed Paint now known as Linseed Paint & Wax Co. From previous experience I’ve found that linseed paint works best when used from bare timer.

Paint and varnish removal


We stripped the window frames and doors of their existing coating using a infrared speed heater, this keeps the temperature low, avoids breaking the glass and also softens the linseed putty for easy removal and replacement.

Linseed paint door restoration




The first coat of warm linseed oil penetrates into the wood and when it is followed by 2/3 coats of linseed paint, you can see the change with each coat developing more sheen.

Allowing the paint to dry over night, it is especially important to apply thin thin coats, even if it is slightly too thick the paint will skin, wrinkle and you wont be able to touch it for a week. I like to adopt a two brush system, a dedicated angled cutting in brush with a fine tip, used on the glazing bars. Along with a flat version for the rest of the frame.

decayed window frame


There were also a few window repairs to be carried out at the same time. The beauty of working with wooden window frames is that they can be easily repaired especially when the Repair Care system is used.

restored window sill

This window frame suffered from severe rot and woodworm to the sill.

Using a seasoned oak from a local salvage yard we replaced the sill and  and bedded it in with repair care resin.

Window frame repairsWindow Frame Repairs with Resin





This softwood window was not as severe and you can see that only part of the sill was required to be replaced.

Again we bedded the timber in with repair care and decorated as normal leaving a seamless finish.

If you need advice or repair work on your external joinery then please do get in touch. Replacing windows and doors can get very costly our Repair Care restorations come with a 10Yr gurantee 

Get in touch on 01792 885173 of course there is also our email, get in touch with us at

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

Traditional LongHouse in the Welsh Countryside

This lovely house located in the quiet Welsh countryside of Carmarthenshire has been one of the most enjoyable traditional painting projects to date. The quality of materials and craftsmanship throughout has worked right through to the end product. Its no wonder that ‘Goetre’ was featured in The World of Interiors.

I was approached initially by Hilton Marlton for the priming of the new windows being made for the property. It wasn’t long after that we had a meeting with Jessica and Jamie Seaton who owned this old farmhouse discussing the option for a lead like finish on the windows to compliment the limewash. (we used Potmolen Linseed Oil Paint)

From there on, we advised and carried out the decorative scheme throughout the house. Using a variety of finishes from limewash and casein distemper to gesso and chalk paint we mixed all colours by eye on site, everything had a traditional hand brushed finish.

In the ‘Blue Bedroom’ we distempered the walls with a base colour and washed over the top with pigment provided by Nutshell Natural Paints. We are experienced with hand finishing kitchens and the unique kitchen unit was a reclaimed lab unit and finished with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and over waxed with different shades to provide protection and a slight patina.

For more images take a look at our earlier posting and if you’d like some advice on a project your working on get in touch on 01792 885173 or try our mobile 07528 467 284. Of course there is also our email, get in touch with us at

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

Traditional Glazing

Glass contributes a lot to the character of a building, the distortion from imperfections reflect light that modern glass does not equal. Traditionally glass was held in place by lead or a series of nails and linseed oil putty, with old glass panes usually holding air bubbles.

Seed visable and telltale sign of traditional glazing

By the late 17th century sash Windows were becoming popular throughout Britain leading to a rise in demand for glass

  • Cylinder Glass – also known as broad sheet and popular until the first half of the 18th century, was made by blowing a cylinder of molten glass then cutting it along it’s side and flattening it out in the furnace. This gives it a slightly rippled surface and can be recognised by elongated air bubbles, the ‘seed’, in straight parallel lines.
  • Crown Glass – Increasingly popular from the mid 18th century, crown glass is made by blowing and spinning a large thin disk known as a table which is then cut into smaller panes. Thinner than cylinder glass it is also shinier and brighter as it never came in contact with a hard surface while molten. The seed lies in distinctive semi-circular lines with the glass being slightly curved.
  • Plate Glass – using cylinder or glass made from a cast, the glass was ground and polished until smooth.  It was expensive to produce so usually reserved for high status buildings and mirrors. Patent Plate Glass was invented in 1839 and used a thinner initial sheet of glass resulting in more glass being produced from the same amount of raw material.
  • Drawn Flat Sheet – With mechanisation glass production was able to develop methods to draw continuous sheets of molten glass out of a furnace. This was then passed through rollers, cooled, ground and polished.
  • Modern Float Glass – developed in 1959 it is the standard type of glass used for glazing today, made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin to produce perfectly flat glass.
Building character with distortion form traditional glazing

Maintaining traditional glass is usually limited to cleaning with a soft cloth and water as abrasive cleaning agents may cause damage. Where putty is needed to be replaced, linseed oil putty has not changed in character or composition and is still widely available and easy to apply. Ensure when painting, the paint overlaps slightly from the putty onto the glass.
Removing putty can be difficult and an infrared heat lamp is invaluable for this procedure. Used to soften linseed putty and ease its removal, this reduces the risk of damage to glazing.

Most types of glass are no longer produced so it is preferable to retain original glazing whenever possible. Small cracks in the corner of panes can be left in-situ unless they allow air or water penetration, larger cracks in very valuable glass can be repaired using epoxy techniques.

Cracked corner of old window glass pane

Crown and plate glass is no longer produced in the UK, reproduction cylinder  glass is along with modern reproduction ‘antique’ glass which may provide a better match to original glazing. But either will not replicate the appearance of older hand made glass.

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

Treasured Times

Sometimes it is the little things that matter, although this wine storage box is a very nice present in itself, you can make it extra special by adding a personal message.

I was approched recently to advise and applying a gilded message to a box as a gift. Although it was a short timescale and the first box delivered was damaged it was a success for everyone. Nothing looks the same as genuine gold leaf and it really gives a beautiful finish and lustre

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

St Teilo’s Church and more at St Fagans Cardiff

I once had the pleasure to carry out some work at St Fagans Museum in Cardiff. Here there was a rebuilt church, taken from Pontarddulais by the Loughor Estuary. Help was needed to recreate the interior to how it was and could have been in the 16th centuary. With colourful wall paintings and decorative gilding on the rood screen and loft. Along with Marc Hare from Cardiff I worked on the par-closed screen and font cover, aswell as some of the other building in the museum like the school house and castle.

A lot of work was put into the recreation and traditional techniques were used from start to finish to create as similar effect as possible. Pigments were hand ground into linseed oil and ranged from Indigo for the dark black areas, genuine Vermillion, Azurite and Lead Tin Yellow, some of these being highly toxic. I recommeded to used loose gold leaf with an oil size but was instructed to use transfer leaf with a japan size which created a very rough gilding.

The whole process was a great experience and I got to talk and explain to the public about what was happening as the work was carried out in St Teilo’s Church while it was still open. If you have a project involving a traditional building which is important to be treated in the correct manner, I’d be happy to discuss and advise on any decorative work required.

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

Its a dirty job… or is it?

Stripping paint from doors, windows, spindles or any surface for that matter is a time consuming job and can get very dirty. Depending on the stripping process it can also be dangerous as toxic fumes can be released from the paint layers, lead paint for example releases fumes at 450 C and being highly toxic. The common ways of removing old paint are chemical paint strippers (including dipping), heat (Blowlamp or torch and heat guns like a hairdryer). Shot or sand blasting can also be used but is not within the relms of most people and required specialist equipment also grinding or dry scraping, there is also another way which technically falls under heat removal but I’ll go into that later.

Firstly lets talk about the dip, and not the one from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Once a popular method because of the speed and simplicity of it, you could remove the doors of your house take them too a guy who would dip them in a stripping solution for a couple of hours possibly overnight. Then possibly steam cleaned and then neutralised ready for you to pick up. Problems occur when the glue is dissolved during the strip and the moulding loosen or pop out. The grain can raise considerably and take a long time to sand back but if it hasn’t been neutralised completely then it is difficult to repaint or varnish again and this process doesn’t work well with water-based paints.

Home chemical strippers like Nitromors are not what they used to be, although the companies will swear they are as good as ever EU regulation have removed the dangerous but effective chemicals that were present. Some products like Peelaway supply you with a plastic cover which stops the stripper from drying out which helps soften multiple layers of paint overnight. Similar to the dipping process the surface needs to be neutralised afterwards, it is an effective method especially if there are lots of layers of paint or an intricate surface, but quite expensive and messy.

Door being stripped with blowtorch, revealing original graining

The most traditional method and still used and loved by lots of decorators is the use of heat. A blowtorch or heat gun is used to soften the paint layers and then scraped off with a sharp knife or hook. Very effective, it can be used easily in the home and on large surfaces, although a flame can char the wood and can cause fires as it works between 400-1000 C. This is minimised with the use of a heat gun, but many will say that it is not as effective as a flame. The biggest problem with this method is the very high temperature that they heat the paint to, this releases gases from the paint that can be harmful especially if lead paint is present. Its is also quite messy but not as much as something like Nitromors as paint can be easily brushed up as it is dry. Also if you are removing paint from windows with the glass still in place, you can quite easily crack the original panes with the high heat from a torch if your not careful.

The method that we employ whenever possible is the use of infrared heat via the Speedheater IR. The biggest difference in this set up is the way it heats the surface to a much lower 100-200 C reducing the risk of fire, dust and chemicals in your home. Because of the low temperature no fumes are released into the air unlike with a heat gun, there is nothing to neutralise on the surface afterwards and there is no dust like you would get with sandblasting or grinding. This system also helps to soften dried out putty allowing us to save the glass when restoring your precious windows and bring them up good as new. It is also faster as it will heat all the layers simultaneously allowing them to be removed in one go.

Of course this process still takes time and a good set of sharp scrapers with plenty of elbow grease. There are no real shortcuts when it comes to paint removal, but I feel this is the best balance of speed and safety. When finished with the dustfree sanding system from Mirka and Festool a high quality surface is guaranteed ready for finishing.

This is not an exhaustive list of processes and there are many products out there that will do the job and are recommended by many people. If you have another method or product that you’d like to recommend then I’d be very happy to hear from you.

by Matthew Evans of Welsh Heritage Decor

Sneak Preview

I’m working on another movie for a project that has recently been completed, but I’ll give you a sneaky peek at some of the images. Check back for the finished showcase film and a post on the methods paints and problems encountered that we solved. Take a look here for more information on working with traditional buildings.

To get in touch with us about a project your planning try our contact page.

Replacement of Lead Based Paint

The case for lead paint can be quite compelling, the authenticity and its appearance are a given, its ability to flex with the material applied to maintains a great level of protection, which in turn provide value for money by extending the the maintenance cycle. But its hazardous nature during preparation (dry sanding causes lots of dust) means that it was banned from general use and now is only available under license and applicable to Grade I and II* listed buildings.

The continuing restrictions on manufacture and importation of chemicals have resulted in production of white lead pigment coming to a stop. This may not seem serious but it does beg the question when approaching a building of historical importance as what to use, surly a modern paint will not have the look or feel of a traditional lead paint and what of linseed based paints?

There are paint trails being held by the National Trust at Buscot in Oxfordshire to determine the most appropriate alternative sampling a range of paints all in the same colour on 13 garage doors to test their longevity and to better understand the paints presently available. In addition to this the Paint Research Association will also carry trails into different paints to the same end.

If you are interested in any aspect of traditional buildings, please visit