When Gary and Robin Houston chose the wallpaper for the dining room of their home in Baltimore County, they did so because they loved the formal pattern and the colors. Two centuries earlier, the Phelps and Hatheway families in Suffield, Conn., must have felt the same way.
"Fontaine de Fleurs," with urns, flowers, swags and birds, was hand-blocked in Paris by Jean Baptiste Reveillon around 1791 and installed in the Phelps-Hatheway House sometime between 1794 and 1796. Discovered there by Henry Francis du Pont, America's premier connoisseur and collector of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century American decorative arts, the wallpaper was carefully removed and then hung in the Federal parlor at Winterthur, du Pont's country home near Wilmington, Del., now a public museum.
Today, Greeff Fabrics, under a licensing agreement with Winterthur, offers an adaptation of "Fontaine de Fleurs" and other patterns. The company -- along with a handful of others, including Robert Morris, Bradbury and Bradbury, F. Schumacher and Richard E. Thibaut, makes accurate reproductions and adaptations of fabrics and wall coverings found in historic homes and buildings after documenting their authenticity. While the materials are often used in period rooms filled with antiques, they are just as fitting in less formal interiors.
Curtis Cummings, senior designer at Papier Interiors Inc. and Design Group, suggested "Fontaine de Fleurs" to the Houstons because the wallpaper picked up the deep forest greens, rose tones and blues in their Oriental carpet and fit in perfectly with their Chippendale reproduction furniture.
He also tucked an under-swag of "Fontaine de Fleurs" fabric into the elaborate window treatment. The result is a room that is handsomely formal, but also bright and refreshing. One has a feeling that Jean Baptiste Reveillon would be proud.