Hand-painted 18th-century Chinese wallpaper -- or newer designs inspired by it -- seems to be one thing everyone can endorse. People of all ages and political persuasions love it. The paper makes a wonderful foil for sleek mid-century furniture (a look mastered in the 20th century by Billy Haines and done more recently, shown directly above, by North Carolina designer Barrie Benson). But of course it rocks in stately houses.
When Nancy Reagan, a longtime fan of Haines, moved to the White House in 1981, she sought guidance from his firm, William Haines Inc. By then Haines had passed away; associate Ted Graber, who had inherited the business, worked with Mrs. Reagan. For her master bedroom, they selected iconic Chinese wallpaper.
Although at times very traditional, the Haines look is never fussy. Note the tailored headboard, slightly larger lamps with drum shades, and clean-lined valances at the windows. Haines' style is said to have resonated with California couples like Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and their close friends Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg, and Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale, because Haines successfully combined rugged, modern elements with softer feminine pieces.
The Reagan images are courtesy Architectural Digest. For more views of White House interiors, visit the "unofficial" White House Museum.
The Benson image is courtesy domino, and the two images at the top show antique wallpaper installed by Haines at Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador's residence in London, circa 1969.
For more on Haines see William Haines Designs or Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator.