5 New Wallpapers That Will Take Your Room Back To Nature
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5 New Wallpapers That Will Take Your Room Back To Nature

Interior designer Michael S. Smith has created a series of new wallpapers for de Gournay.

By Megan Conway
Mon, Aug 30, 2021 11:12amGrey Clock 4 min

According to interior designer Michael S. Smith, certain elements involved in decorating have the feel of magic. Among them he counts wallpaper, with its ability to lend flat surfaces the illusion of depth. A new collection of five wallpapers of Smith’s own design launches this season in collaboration with de Gournay, a British company that specializes in custom, hand-painted panels. “It’s all ideas I’ve been carrying around in my head, things I’ve wanted to use for a long time,” says the Los Angeles–based Smith, who is best known for redecorating the Oval Office and White House residential quarters for the Obamas. “To put them all together as an arsenal or box of crayons is amazing.”

The Braganza pattern installed by design dealer Jermaine Gallacher in his London design showroom. PHOTO: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA

“Michael is one of our most longstanding clients,” says Hannah Cecil Gurney, de Gournay’s director, whose father, Claud Cecil Gurney, founded the company in the mid-1980s. “He came to us and said, Look, if I’m wanting this particular kind of look and feel for wall coverings that I can’t currently find, then it would be silly not to offer them to the world.”Each of the wallpapers in Smith’s series draws inspiration from the natural world, be it the softly coloured stone of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia or the bird-filled trees on the tiled murals at Lisbon’s Palácio dos Marqueses de Fronteira. Smith took the idea for Botanical Studies from 18th-century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus’s studio, which was hung with prints and engravings of heliotrope, gardenia and other flora.

Antique dealer Edward Hurst’s use of Botanical Studies at a client’s home. PHOTO: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA

In the spirit of Smith’s polished eclecticism, de Gournay invited five decorators, makers and curators from varied backgrounds to each use one of the wallpapers in the context of their own work. The English antique dealer Edward Hurst chose Botanical Studies for the bedroom of a client’s Dorset manor house, pairing the panels with a Chinese black-and-gold lacquer cabinet set on a Chippendale-period stand and a neoclassical George III canopy bed. “It sort of vibrates in the room,” says Hurst of the paper.

The new de Gournay wallpaper Pantheon in artist and curator Peter Ting’s home. PHOTO: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA

Ceramic artist Peter Ting, co-founder of Ting-Ying gallery, hung Pantheon, an intricate design that recalls natural stone, at home, alongside his collection of artworks and porcelain. He immediately noticed the paper’s partial glazing, “as if it has been polished by centuries of touching, like real marble would in a powerful and spiritual place like the Pantheon.”

British-born Ghanaian furniture designer Kusheda Mensah used Uki Hana, a wallpaper inspired by the chrysanthemums of Edo-period Japanese artworks, to create an immersive environment within a London creative space. Mensah set the wallpaper against her own curvilinear, modular furniture. The panels are gilded with a golden-brown copper leaf at the bottom that gives way to a lighter aluminium leaf toward the top, mimicking the soft, tarnished gleam of 17th-century Japanese folding screens. Mensah says she was surprised by de Gournay’s level of customization: “One of the designers just got out her paintbrush and literally started drawing flowers onto the wallpaper to expand the pattern and print.”

Designer Kusheda Mensah’s furniture, which she placed in front of the Uki Hana motif. PHOTO: MIGUEL FLORES-VIANNA

“They’re game for anything as long as it’s grounded in fundamental quality,” says Smith of de Gournay, which gives clients the opportunity to collaborate with its team of in-house designers and painters. “I felt entirely included in the creative process,” says Amanda Brooks, who used Nordic Garden, Smith’s interpretation of a rococo-era Swedish wallpaper, to decorate a temporary retail space next door to her Oxfordshire home-goods shop, Cutter Brooks. “We changed the colour of a couple of birds and some berries, moved motifs from one panel to another and altered the deep teal colour to better match my shop merchandise,” she says. British design dealer Jermaine Gallacher, meanwhile, took Braganza, a wallpaper that references porcelain tile, off the wall. He suspended the paper on movable panels in his London showroom, its tile-like grid acting as a backdrop for sets of his own creation.

Smith says seeing the diversity of responses to his designs was inspiring. He partly credits de Gournay’s success with a broad resurgence of interest in wallpaper. “After years of a kind of minimalist thing,” he says, “people are realising how pattern and colour can make a room so much more beautiful.”

Reprinted by permission of WSJ. Magazine. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 29, 2021


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Ray White’s chief economist outlines her predictions for housing market trends in 2024

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 2 min

Ray White’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee says property price growth will continue next year and mortgage holders will need to “survive until 2025” amid expectations of higher interest rates for longer.

Ms Conisbee said strong population growth and a housing supply shortage combatted the impact of rising interest rates in 2023, leading to unusually strong price growth during a rate hiking cycle. The latest CoreLogic data shows home values have increased by more than 10 percent in the year to date in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Among the regional markets, price growth has been strongest in regional South Australia with 8.6 percent growth and regional Queensland at 6.9 percent growth.

“As interest rates head close to peak, it is expected that price growth will continue. At this point, housing supply remains extremely low and many people that would be new home buyers are being pushed into the established market,” Ms Conisbee said. “Big jumps in rents are pushing more first home buyers into the market and population growth is continuing to be strong.”

Ms Conisbee said interest rates will be higher for longer due to sticky inflation. “… we are unlikely to see a rate cut until late 2024 or early 2025. This means mortgage holders need to survive until 2025, paying far more on their home loans than they did two years ago.”

Buyers in coastal areas currently have a window of opportunity to take advantage of softer prices, Ms Conisbee said. “Look out for beach house bargains over summer but you need to move quick. In many beachside holiday destinations, we saw a sharp rise in properties for sale and a corresponding fall in prices. This was driven by many pandemic driven holiday home purchases coming back on to the market.”

3 key housing market trends for 2024

Here are three of Ms Conisbee’s predictions for the key housing market trends of 2024.

Luxury apartment market to soar

Ms Conisbee said the types of apartments being built have changed dramatically amid more people choosing to live in apartments longer-term and Australia’s ageing population downsizing. “Demand is increasing for much larger, higher quality, more expensive developments. This has resulted in the most expensive apartments in Australia seeing price increases more than double those of an average priced apartment. This year, fewer apartments being built, growing population and a desire to live in some of Australia’s most sought-after inner urban areas will lead to a boom in luxury apartment demand.”

Homes to become even greener

The rising costs of energy and the health impacts of heat are two new factors driving interest in green homes, Ms Conisbee said. “Having a greener home utilising solar and batteries makes it cheaper to run air conditioning, heaters and pool pumps. We are heading into a particularly hot summer and having homes that are difficult to cool down makes them far more dangerous for the elderly and very young.”

More people living alone

For some time now, long-term social changes such as delayed marriage and an ageing population have led to more people living alone. However, Ms Conisbee points out that the pandemic also showed that many people prefer to live alone for lifestyle reasons. “Shorter term, the pandemic has shown that given the chance, many people prefer to live alone with a record increase in single-person households during the time. This trend may influence housing preferences, with a potential rise in demand for smaller dwellings and properties catering to individuals rather than traditional family units.”


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