How to Create a Print Room

The print room was a form of interior decoration that was briefly popular in Europe in the late eigh­teenth century. Usually, the prints were pasted directly onto the wall and were grouped together in symmetrical arrangements. Religious subjects, pas­toral scenes, contemporary portraits and classical fig­ures were all displayed together. Each print was framed with a paper border and decorative elements, such as trompe-l’oeil swags, ropes, chains and corner-pieces, were added.

Reproductions of eighteenth-century prints and print-room decorations are now available from spe­cialist outlets, bringing it within reach of the enthu­siastic amateur. But if you do not want to buy a spe­cialist kit, you can always photocopy prints from magazines and catalogues.

Before you start work, make sure the surface is matt, or the prints will not stick. A background in earthy colours such as terracotta or yellow ochre looks most attractive with antique prints. If you would like your black-and-white prints to look old, soak them briefly in a bath of cold tea (experiment first with a corner of a border for soaking time and depth of colour).

Displaying prints

When it comes to arranging the prints, always start at the centre of the area you are decorating and work your way out. In the eighteenth century, size was more important than subject matter, and the largest print was usually placed in the centre of any grouping. You will need a plumb-line and spirit level in order to establish the true centre: carefully mark the central print, then start pasting down. If you like, before you stick the prints down permanently, use re-usable adhesive to position them correctly. As you work outwards, it is essential to keep checking that everything is aligned.

Successfully creating an entire print room requires a good eye and a great deal of patience. For your first project, it is a good idea to limit yourself to a small area such as a bathroom or cloakroom.

You will need:

  • Plain, painted wall
  • Print-room kit or photocopied prints from magazines and books, and ornamental paper cut-outs and borders available from art and craft shops
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level (optional)
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Re-usable adhesive
  • Pencil
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Paintbrush (to apply paste)


  1. If you are not using a print-room kit, choose your prints from magazines, catalogues or books. When photocopying them, make sure you use a high-quality paper. Usual photocopying paper may bubble when the wallpaper paste is applied.
  2. Cut out your print borders and any ornamental bits and pieces you want to use. You will need a small pair of scissors, such as nail scissors, to cut out the intricate ornamental pieces.
  3. Mark with a pencil where you want to stick the prints on the wall. To ensure you align the prints correctly, measure the size of each print and then measure in from the corners of the wall. Check with a spirit level, too.
  4. Attach the prints with re-usable adhesive. Check they are aligned properly. Once you are happy with the arrangement, glue them on with wallpaper paste.
  5. Stick the cut-out borders over the prints. If you are not using a kit, you will have to cut the borders into four pieces and mitre the joints. (A mitred joint is a right-angled corner formed by two strips of material joined together, each having an edge cut at a 45° angle.) To mitre the print borders, fold over the top and bottom of each side border at a 45° angle, then cut off the end.
  6. Place the ornamental bits and pieces around the frame. When you are happy with the effect, paste them on.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.