How Rosie's Vintage Wallpaper Collection Became a Business

You know how some of the best things that happen in life come from totally unplanned or unexpected situations? Well, it was in this way, eight years ago, that I left the house as a stay-at-home mom and suddenly ended up, a few short hours later, surrounded by a whole lot of paper and an agreement to bring it all home with me. And it was in this spur-of-the-moment decision that my vintage wallpaper business was born.

Several years before this, our third child was born and I quit my job to be at home... because, let's face it, having three children under the age of 5 was a bit hectic. But by the time all three were in school, I was beginning to think about what I would do next. Although I was keeping my options open, I had enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home mom and really hoped to continue that by finding a work-from-home type of job.

Now my husband is a "collector" (which, in my opinion, is just a nice word for hoarder) and, among many other things, is interested in fishing baits. One day, he mentioned he wanted to visit an old hardware store in a small town close to our home. He was hoping they might still have some old baits and I agreed to tag along. As my husband was talking to the store owner, I was browsing up and down the aisles, looking for nothing in particular. All of a sudden, something tucked away in a dark corner caught my attention: several rolls of wallpaper, dated mostly from the 1980s, along with a few older ones with bright patterns turned right side out. Finding the older ones very unique, I picked out about six rolls to buy. As I was making my purchase, the store owner said, "If you like old wallpaper, I have something to show you..."

My husband and I followed him into a dimly lit back room, where there were six large cardboard bins full of vintage wallpaper. He laughingly said he would make us a great deal if we would buy all that he had. Taking his offer literally, my husband and I went home, did some research of our own, and decided to return the next day to buy a truck load.

One of the first patterns that caught my eye.

Another pattern that caught my attention.
After I had success selling several of those rolls on Ebay, my husband said we should go back and buy all that he had—which was stored in three different buildings and estimated to be around 50,000 rolls! Wondering how this gentleman acquired such an overwhelming amount of wallpaper in the first place, we soon learned that he was not the original owner. The original owner had been in the wallpaper business since the early 1900's and apparently kept many patterns in stock. Then, as years passed and patterns became outdated, they were moved to the back of the building (or to another building) to make room for more!

This is one of the three buildings that we collected wallpaper from.  (I wish I had taken more photos!)

The inside of the building. The upper landing was full of wallpaper, as was the back room and the second story.
Our kids were a big help!
Thankfully, the owner was very lenient and was willing to give us plenty of time to move the wallpaper. Most of it was unsorted, unboxed, and stored on shelves or in bins. My husband had a full-time job, and although we tried to make a trip once a week, it took us over a year to haul it all back to our home. And even after that initial obstacle, the work was far from over. Once home, it was a long process of sorting wallpaper patterns, counting stock, and taking pictures of every pattern—but I loved every minute of it. It was so exciting to uncover a roll, see a new pattern, and imagine the possibilities.

A pattern with lots of possibilities!
Through the years, as my business has grown, I have learned many things related to vintage wallpaper. Most importantly, however, is the feeling I get every day I do business: It is just as exciting for me to ship a whole box of wallpaper to a movie set decorator as it is to ship just one or two rolls to a homeowner. Because, all in all, I really love vintage wallpaper and I am lucky enough to be able to share all of those great bits of history with my customers.

One of my favorites.
As I look back now, I can’t believe a whim to tag along with my husband could result in me discovering something I didn’t know I was searching for. Life is funny sometimes.


  1. Wow! What a great story, and what a lucky lady you are!

  2. I agree, I am a lucky lady! Thank you!

  3. You have no idea how much I envy your discovery!!!! Vintage wallpaper is my passion....:).

  4. HI Gail,
    If you ever in my area, stop by. I will be happy to show you around!
    Best wishes!