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Elizabeth Roberts Looks to the Past for Her New Wallpaper Collection


“Everything starts with a historic reference,” says AD100 architect Elizabeth Roberts, New York’s preeminent town house whisperer. So when fellow Brooklynites Calico Wallpaper asked her to collaborate, the proud preservationist immediately looked to the past. With the help of a Cambridge-trained historian in her office, Roberts delved into the scenic patterns of yesteryear, especially the hand-drawn tableaux of faraway landscapes that predated repeat-print technology. 

The AD100 architect at work on the design in her Brooklyn office.

William Jess Laird

To put a personal spin on that tradition, she looked to her own proverbial backyard: Prospect Park. A 1910 postcard of the iconic urban landscape has now given way to a made-to-order wallpaper, first realized as a 20-foot-wide ink drawing using her signature drafting techniques. (Titled Scenic, the motif is available in eight colorways.) “It’s a fresh take on something that has hundreds of years of history,” says Calico’s Nick Cope, adding, “Non-repeating murals were such a big inspiration when we founded the company.” Roberts envisions it in a multitude of spaces, from a modern loft to a brownstone parlor floor dripping with architectural detail. Is there more to come? “I’m not finished,” she reveals. “I want to do a botanical next.”


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