Lizzie Allen wallpaper
With wallpaper well and truly back in vogue, JANET DONIN meets leading Surrey designer Lizzie Allen, whose quirky, colourful prints have been a hit with the likes of Paul Smith
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2009With wallpaper well and truly back in vogue, JANET DONIN meets leading Surrey designer Lizzie Allen, whose quirky, colourful prints have been a hit with the likes of Paul Smith
Lizzie Allen: 0794 747 4928 (and also at Hamilton Weston Wallpapers, 88 Sheen Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1UF: 0208 940 4850)
London taxis, City gents and jazz musicians are not the images that immediately come to mind when visualising on-trend wallpapers, but they are certainly making a name for designer Lizzie Allen, who is based in Selsdon, near Croydon. Although only 27, Lizzie's design business is flourishing. With funding from the Crafts Council, she was able to establish her own print studio in 2007, producing hand-screen printed wallpapers using traditional methods. This solid background, combined with her unique and rather quirky style, has seen her work on sale in such esteemed stores as Liberty, Paul Smith and Hamilton Weston in Richmond. Global inspiration Inspiration for her designs has been drawn from different cultures and traditions. "I lived in Dubai in my late teens and really missed the hustle and bustle of weekend trips to London - the cabs, the buses and the telephone boxes," remembers Lizzie. "Then I worked in New York for a year so skyscrapers and the jazz players in Central Park are a fond memory." This part of her heritage and her favoured style of the 1950s are apparent in her combinations of old and new imagery that create a nostalgic atmosphere in her designs. Signature style Her earliest influences, however, stem from rather closer to home. "When I was young, my mother always took my twin sister Kelly and I with her when she visited National Trust houses around Surrey," says Lizzie. "That's probably where my love of architecture and the beautiful William Morris designs come from." Both of which are to be found in her Changing Guards and St Paul's wallpapers. The signature, elongated characters are what really define Lizzie's style, however, many of whom are based on her family. "The City Gents look a bit like my uncle reading his newspaper and my dad with his briefcase," she laughs. "And Changing Guards marching past Buckingham Palace is loosely based on my brother Chris, who's in the Army." An investment buy Unique wallpaper like this doesn't come cheap. At around �550 per roll, it's an investment that you'll want to use for maximum impact. Mindful of this and the fact that her designs are rather large, and in the case of the telephone box almost life-size, she says: "Boldly-patterned wallpapers are very popular at the moment, but the trick is to use them on a feature wall, or in alcoves." With that in mind, Lizzie's wallpapers contain lots of white space to let you appreciate the whimsical characters and her attention to detail. She also suggests keeping the rest of the room's colour palette fairly muted. "It's a good idea to pick just one of the strong colours from the wallpaper to use as accessories and keep everything else fairly neutral," she says. What comes next... Looking towards future work, Lizzie has her designs set on English country scenery, probably featuring cows and telephone poles and to the seaside where deckchairs, ice cream vans and sandy textures will predominate. She will also be launching fun accessories to complement her wallpapers. "In these times of the credit crunch, I think we want to be surrounded by nostalgia and hand-crafted products and to feel comfortable in our homes," she adds. Her unique wallpapers certainly offer all of this in reams.