When Henry and Sarah Blosser built their grand home in Saline County, they revealed their colorful personalities through imaginative decorating choices. That bold Blosser spirit lives on in the home’s restoration and its new owners are carrying on the colorful Blosser tradition. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the home’s wallpapers.
The Henry Blosser House is an example of Second Empire style, an eclectic era that gives stylistic nods to the French architectural traditions that preceded it. Wallpaper, too, has deep roots in French design. Many early American wallpapers were of French origin or inspiration. So it makes sense, both when the Blossers built the home and now as it take on new life as a country inn and event center, that unique, vivid wallpaper should play a key role in the home’s décor.
Kelee Katillac, the internationally acclaimed designer who is leading the Blosser restoration project, turned to Adelphi Paper Hangings of Sharon Springs, New York, to create the wallpapers used in the home. In addition to historic American, French and English patterns from its own extensive collection of original wallpaper documents, Adelphi offers patterns licensed from the archives of Historic New England, The Smithsonian Institution, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Old Sturbridge Village, the New York State Historical Association, the Musée du Papier Peint (Rixheim, France), and from many other historic institutions and private collections.
Most of the papers used in the Blosser House were created specifically for the home from Adelphi’s archive of patterns. With the help of Adelphi partner Steve Larson, Katillac called upon her renowned color sensibility to rekindle the spirit of Henry Blosser’s exuberant 1878 home. Recognizing the home’s eclectic heritage, Katillac didn’t confine herself to one stylistic period in her choices for the home. “The house is a narrative,” she says. “It’s a design tour of 150 years of style from around 1700 to 1880 with each room focused around a different era or period.”
Adelphi’s papers are meticulously crafted on a 100-percent cotton backing, and block printed by hand. Each printing block is carved of Swiss pear wood, and the intricate designs require multiple blocks and colors. The elaborate design featured in the Ladies’ Drawing Room, for example, required 39 individual wood blocks to layer on 17 different colors. The design features four figural scenes ⸺ Flora, Venus, Flora with Cherub, and The Dancers ⸺ on a very long repeat of nearly four feet. The Blosser House version of the paper is a new coloration by Adelphi that Katillac describes as “soft and feminine, yet bold.” It’s right at home in a room that features a gorgeous Second Empire mantel and a gilded Louis XVI mirror.
Although each room carries its own unique style, Katillac uses color as a unifying element, and all of those colors can be found among the 17 shades in the Ladies Drawing Room wallpaper. Across the foyer in the Men’s Drawing Room, you’ll discover a more masculine wallpaper pattern that incorporates the reds and yellows from the Ladies’ Drawing Room paper. The end result is that the two rooms “hold hands across the hallway,” Katillac says. “Gray is the common thread ⸺ unifying color ⸺ that runs through the house, seaming it together, but it also modernizes it and freshens it. Gray and cream provide release and a resting point between the colorful entertaining rooms.”