Bringing walls to life in Elizabethan style

Melissa White’s divine historic designs are showcased by Zoffany

Image: marco menghi

So you’ve looked at the Farrow & Ball Shaded White (“just darker than Off-White and lighter than Old White. This can also be used as a light ‘drab’,” says the brand’s guru), and it’s not nearly right. Maybe you live in a house that needs something more luxurious, less glaringly minimalist. You might perhaps think of Melissa White, an artist who specialises in murals and Elizabethan painted decoration.


Usually her clients are after something rich, aged and utterly specific to the building and the walls. She has studied Elizabethan wall paintings and decorative techniques in great detail (for which she was awarded a grant by The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust), and her expertise lies in creating works with an authentic aura of age by distressing the paintwork.


Zoffany has made her designs more readily available by commissioning her to create the Arden collection, a range of six fabrics (£58-£110 per metre) and eight wallpapers (£48-£90 per roll) that can be bought off the peg. The collection is based around rare historical papers and fabrics from the Elizabethan period and each pattern comes with a romantic narrative of its own. The Verdure (both fabric and wallpaper; pictured in Tapestry Green, £90 per 122cm roll), for instance, takes a late-17th-century painted cloth as its starting point, while the Merchant House Stripe is inspired by a rare 17th-century design, the original of which can still be found at The Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

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