The Longevity of Treillage

Photo courtesy of Appartement Kaiserin Maria Theresias

Photo courtesy of Appartement Kaiserin Maria Theresias

The notion of "bringing the outdoors in" has been a common practice in interior decoration for centuries. The freshness brought to an interior through references from adjacent gardens is not only aesthetically appealing but also appropriately practical. In warmer months, a pseudo 'garden room' may act as a transition between the actual garden and the rooms situated further within the interior of the dwelling. In the cooler months, it may remind the user of more pleasing environments. Beyond the obvious employment of botanicals, the quintessential motif used to suggest a blurring of the threshold between a residence's interior and exterior is trelliswork, also known as treillage.

Treillage in an eighteenth-century palace

Among the aristocrats of the eighteenth-century who had a keen interest in botany, Marie Antoinette is known to have been particularly enthralled with the design of her private gardens at Versailles. However, it was her Austrian mother, Maria Teresa, who incorporated this taste inside her Schoenbrunn Palace "apartement," having it decorated with painted murals featuring an abundance of treillage with intertwining botanicals.

Treillage on a nineteenth-century iconic wallpaper

A century later, this time in England, the fashion for trelliswork was popularized by William Morris, arguably the leader in textile design and production in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is believed that the inspiration for one of his famous wall coverings sprang from the gardens of the home into which he had just moved. The gardens featured trelliswork with intertwining roses, just as seen in his Trellis wallpaper design. Much like the "apartement" at Schoenbrunn, Morris' wallpaper design incorporates blossoming flowers, with indigenous birds added for even greater interest.

Treillage in an early twentieth-century New York club

Finally, in the early twentieth century, treillage was once more the feature of a notable interior — a room which marked the beginning of a famous career. In 1907, American decorator, Elsie de Wolfe, created depth and texture in the interior of New York's Colony Club, the city's first women's social club. The decoration was in stark contrast to any other (men-only) clubs, replacing dark leather and moody tones with airy wicker and fresh hues. Her innovative and confident scheme garnered such accolades that de Wolfe was later commissioned by clients such as J.P. Morgan and The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Treillage Montage

Treillage in today's interiors

As seen in an eighteenth-century palace, an iconic nineteenth-century wallpaper design and a career-defining project in the twentieth-century, it would be safe to assume that treillage will continue to be not only an appropriate but an inspired motif in today's interiors. Following are three examples of trelliswork, each successful in its own right. Whether monochromatic and classic, whimsical and flirty or graphic and punchy, the longevity of treillage has been undoubtedly proven.

This timeless scheme can easily be translated into any home. To get this look, there are countless wallpaper options available in today's market, no matter what the budget. In the same spirit, trellis-patterned fabrics can add impact to a room through the use of pillows, upholstered pieces or window treatments. For those who feel particularly ambitious, why not make a trip to the local garden center and install the real thing in any room for the ultimate treillage effect.

Links to Photos

Schoenbrunn Palace:

William Morris wallpaper:

The Colony Club:

Living Room:

Ladurée, Beverly Hills:

Bedroom: (originally credited as House & Home)