Reproduce Historical Wallpaper

Fitz-Greene Hallock Homestead

A detailed guide of both the creative and technical steps used in the process of creating accurate reproductions.

“The Homestead” 1888

Fitz-Greene purchased the property and had a three story house built on “The Homestead”, that would be known as the “The Maples”. When the house was ready the family of Fitz-Greene and Cassie (Ralston) Hallock moved into it in 1888. The home is located at 2869 Pond Road, Lake Ronkonkoma.

There was an octagon barn and as time went on some out-buildings such as a chicken coop, ice house, and butcher shop were added. The Homestead was a self-sustaining farm, with livestock and garden.

In 1995, the last surviving daughter, Katherine Hallock Kenneth, donated the homestead to the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society.

Original Documents

There are many ways to tackle this kind of project and depending on which method is used will determine the cost. Whether screen, or digitally printed, purist or close to faithful, there is no wrong way to create a historical replica. The important thing is, can the historic artwork be preserved in a way where you can’t tell the difference against the original.

In some cases this may not be so cut and dry as only fragments of the design are left behind due to age. The artist will then have to use documentation from the same era and time period to essentially “fill in the blanks” to create a close representation of what was once there. In other cases they’re maybe be rolls of it safely stored away.

Find Pattern Repeat

For this project we were lucky to have enough of the pattern to determine the repeat in it’s entirety. First, we had to figure out where the repeat landed to meticulously cut equal sections for the scanning process. We say meticulously because this kind of material (early 1900s) is more like craft paper so its very brittle and easy to tear. Once the sections were scanned in we could start our digital journey of recreating the pattern swatch for the design.

Scan Pattern Repeat

This is the most accepted and preferred method available for reproducing wallpaper. Professional-grade scanners are the staple for capturing high resolution imagery without having to worry about obstacles that may arise from digital photography. Scanning is also a great way to capture colors and ensure they accurately match.

Create Seamless Pattern

After scanning in the cut pieces of wallpaper we carefully needed to align them until the design elements “started to match” in our design software. Though the art was scanned in it doesn’t mean we could finish with a few simple clicks, so for now we just nudge them together until further editing them as a whole. We then separated each color into it’s own layer to make editing easier, particularly color. By painstakingly redrawing and painting in missing elements and lines, making color adjustments, and removing unwanted artifacts the design is ready to be test printed.

Pick the Right Color

Getting the color as close to the original is an important part of finalizing the design process before printing the rolls for installation. By taking some readings on our Spectrophotometer (color picker) we could set up a few color swatches along with the design for a test print (strike-off). We then compared the new print to the original and applied the best color choices before sending the panels off to print. Once everything is approved our installers get to work on hanging the wallpaper!

Custom Reproduction Wallpaper

Once all the layers are flattened, wallpaper rolls are created on a digital printer, using GREENGUARD Gold Inks. For most custom reproductions, most of the extra cost is in the design work: the amount of time it takes to scan, modify, and fine-tune the pattern, or to draw it from scratch. It usually costs between $1,000 to $4,000 to create a custom pattern but prices may vary based on complexity of the design. Then the paper is printed at the same cost as other papers we offer: $256-$320 per double roll.

Client Testimonial

“I am the President of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society. The society owns one of the last historical homes in the town of Ronkonkoma. This farm house was built in 1888 and is the only home that is open to the public. We do many educational events at the house every year. We were granted the funds to restore the walls in the piano room. When I started to search for a company that could reproduce the wallpaper exactly as the original paper was, I could not find anyone on the island that was willing to do this. Then I heard about MM Digital Designs. They not only worked with us to stay on budget, but we’re there thru every step of the project. The wallpaper is an exact match and when we have tours of the house we receive many compliments about how beautiful the paper has stood the test of time. People are amazed when we show them before and after pictures. Not only would I highly recommend MM Digital. They are the only company I would use again. We have applied for another grant and if we receive it they will be doing another project with us this summer.”

— Evelyn Vollgraff, President L.R.H.S.

Need a pattern reproduced for your wallpaper project?