“Fast and easy” is how this collection of borders was marketed to the public. Designed especially for the do-it-yourself market, these narrow borders were packed in individual boxes, sold in twelve foot lengths, and all were pre-pasted. They just had to be dipped in water and stuck on the wall, though consumers were advised to wash the walls first. Advertisements for these wallpaper borders began appearing in national publications in 1945 so they were already on the market when the new housing boom began following the end of the war. These were readily available at your local dime store, as well as department stores and hardware stores. And they were priced to sell at .20 to .35 cents per roll.
This border measures three inches wide, while others in the collection ranged from 1 7/8 to 4 inches. Given the narrow width of these borders they were usually installed above the chair rail, while the wider borders could be used at the top of the wall as well, with related decals filling the space in between. The ivy border was designed for all-purpose use, while others are more room specific, including water themes for the bathroom and floral themes for the bedroom.
And no need to stop with the wall. These borders were also recommended for ornamenting cabinets, lamp shades, furniture, and accessories. All of these borders were washable and colorfast. This 1946 ad illustrates a woman merrily dipping her border in a bowl of water as she decorates her kitchen. What could be more fun?
Greg Herringshaw is the Assistant Curator for Wallcoverings at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.