In my imagination the small wallpapered room on the first floor once belonged to a young girl with pigtails. Let’s call her la petite Sophie. She spends hours lost in day dreams, lying on the wooden floor with her bare foot up in the air and her chin resting on her hands. Her blue cotton morning dress is almost the exact shade as the floral pattern on the wall. She sighs with boredom as she hears her name being called. C’est maman ! Time to head downstairs.
Once I had dreamt up the story about this French mademoiselle, I was determined to leave her girlish sanctuary as intact as possible while renovating it. If only we hadn’t planned for this room to be a bathroom. Our French builders shook their heads in disbelief when I told them the wallpaper should stay. Fair enough, I shook mine in equal disbelief when one of them positioned the shower at a large angle instead of vertical. In England I found a decorator’s varnish that perfectly seals paper with an imperceptible flat finish. Ideal for fragile paper that blurs at the slightest touch. Again, French heads shook, but on went the varnish and the vintage florals were saved.
To balance the soft blue and tender pink of the flowers I added strong pieces to the room: the gilded mirror, the black metal lamp and a contrasting print on the floor. I’m pleased with the result; it’s a romantic and inviting room that tells a tactile story of times past, with the wallpaper as blooming evidence of imaginary Sophie’s existence.