Marthe Armitage hand printed wallpaper designs | Nick Balloon photography | via: chatham st. house

Design Crush: Marthe Armitage

Let’s talk linocut and Marthe Armitage shall we? This octogenarian is a print powerhouse and masterful wallpaper designer who everyone should know, if they don’t already. I am obsessed with her fairytale-like designs and she feels like the perfect designer to kick-off a new series I’m calling Design Crush. It acts as a companion piece to my Interior Crush series where I explore inspirational interior design. Design Crush will focus on the work of designers and artists who have had a huge impact on interior design, but focuses less on a singular project and more on their entire body of work.



I first discovered Marthe Armitage on Pinterest (how I love a good Pinterest rabbit hole) and I devoured post after post about her life and work. Like so many of the women designers I love her work stems first from her love of family and home. A graduate of the Chelsea School of Art, now the University of Arts – London, Marthe put aside her artistic ambitions to raise her family and support her architect husband in the 1950s. It was during this era that they lived in India and she was first exposed to the art of block printing.

Marthe Armitage studio visit | via: chatham st. house
Marthe Armitage studio visit | via: chatham st. house
marthe armitage design sketch | via: chatham st. house
marthe armitage in her studio | via: chatham st. house
Marthe Armitage studio visit | via: chatham st. house


This experience left an indelible mark on Marthe, and that early inspiration can be seen in her work to this day. Taking block printing a step further, Marthe uses the technique of linocut to create all of her wallpaper designs. Linocut is a printmaking technique where the design is cut into a linoleum surface with a sharp knife. The raised areas create a reverse image of the design when printed by hand or with a printing press. The use of linocuts vs. block prints allows for a greater level of complexity and nuance to her designs.


Initially Marthe Armitage created hand-pressed wallpapers as an artistic experiment for her own family home. It wasn’t until she acquired a lithographic press, well into her adulthood, that she was able to make her designs commercially available.



Inspired by the natural world, books and art, Marthe’s designs have a mystical, fairy-like quality that transcends genre. Each design starts as a four-section sketch that masterfully evolves into a repeatable print. These sketches are then transferred to a linocut and hand-printed on the lithographic press. This handmade process creates a finished product that is incredibly durable while simultaneously keeping the delicacy and ethereal quality of Marthe’s work.

Designer Marthe Armitage at home | via: chatham st. house
Marthe Armitage's daughter Jo Broadhurst designer and architect | via: chatham st. house
 Marthe Armitage, T Magazine


Her imagination is unparalleled with (perhaps) one exception - Marthe’s daughter Jo Broadhurst has become an integral partner in Marthe’s studio and elegant designer in her own right. They work continue to work side-by-side, hand printing Marthe’s extensive body of work and developing new designs for their ever expanding client list. I can’t get enough of their use of color and the whimsical stories they tell through their wallpapers and prints. Read more about Marthe Armitage on her website here. -b. 

Image Sources: 1 | 2-3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9

PAINTING TIPS: 7 STEPS TO A SMOOTH FINISH | via: chatham st. house

I'm *this* close to being finished with painting the ground floor. A few more tweaks in the living room and vestibule and we'll have a freshly hued look in every corner.  With all this painting going on, I've done a fair bit of research on how to best tackle painting a room, and I'd like to think I've learned a thing or 2 along the way. Because I'm so generous I thought I'd put together my favorite painting tips for a smooth finish. 


Test paint colors. I recommend trying at least 3 shades BEFORE choosing your favorite hue. 


Pro Tip: Paint a 1' x 1' square in 1-2 locations around the room to see how the paint will look in different light. I love the testers size at Home Depot!

We went with the bolder coral color - Behr's Marquee Paint in Cockleshell

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Pro Tip: If you're going to rehang something (like curtains) in the same place you don't need to fill in the holes.

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Prep the space to paint. Tape ALONG floor, cover any non-moveable features, and lay DROP CLOTHS.


Pro Tip: Don't worry about taping windows, use your paint scraper to remove any painting mishaps instead!

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Cut in along woodwork. Using an angled brush paint around all windows, doors, and baseboards before starting on the walls.


Shh - I cheated a little...

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Smooth surface. Scrape bumps and sand filled holes.


You can buy drywall sanding blocks for the wall, and I'm addicted to my Warner Steel Paint Scraper from Lowes.

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Ceilings + Woodwork first! For the cleanest finish always start with painting the details before starting on the walls.


Pro Tip: Don't be stingy around woodwork, allow about 1-2" of overlap on the walls so your paint job will be seamless

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Even "one coat guaranteed" brand paints may require a second coat depending on how porous your wall surface is, or how generous you are with your paint-filled roller. I say better safe than sorry.

Do you have any painting tips you'd like to share? Head over to Instagram and share them on the partner gram to this post. - b.

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first day of spring | couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house
first day of spring | couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house
first day of spring | couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house
first day of spring | a flower does not think...| couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house
first day of spring | couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house
first day of spring | couplings no. 20 | via: chatham st. house

Welcome to Spring. As I sit here typing I'm staring down yet another snow storm and spending precious minutes trying to conjure up what today should feel like - "I'd have to say April 25th. Because it's not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket." One can dream.

To help with my conjuring, and maybe yours too, I've collected all the pretty I could muster this morning and I'll be staring at this arrangement from now until April when 70 degrees is the new 30. Happy Spring equinox everyone. - b.

Couplings is a series on Chatham St. House celebrating the kindred spirit in images, how they relate and respond to one another in a way similar to how body language communicates between two people. 

Image Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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