Home Furnishings for My Newly Renovated Boston Duplex

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February 19, 2024

Hi Everyone,

This is a follow-up of the post at the bottom of the page, where I shared some images from Fine and Dandy, a company that produces and sells large-scale wall murals. If you click this link below it will take you there, so you don’t have to scroll for hours.

Part 2 Begins Here

OLYMPUS_BABYLON - Fine and Dandy

Shortly after I posted some concerns about at least one of their designs, Babylon (above) I received a lovely email from Carla Morano, a co-founder of the company.

Here’s what she said:

Hi Laurel,

We’re reaching out because we recently came across your blog. Thank you for your kind words about our Insta feed and designs. We did want to address some of your concerns around the resolution of our Babylon mural.

Please know that resolution is our highest priority and we want the best possible installation outcomes for our customers. The swatch images on our website are significantly lower resolution than what is used for production. For example, our website imagery is typically under 300k file size while our printing files are in excess of 100MB per panel. This is both to ensure an efficient web browsing experience as well as protecting our intellectual property. Believe it or not we have already been plagiarized.

So if you dramatically enlarge a section of one of our website images you will get significant pixelation. We would be happy to send you a sample because that is the truest representation of what the mural will actually look like- if you would kindly share your mailing address we will send this out to you right away. The Versailles installation, which is a 10-foot mural over a 4 ft wainscot is a great example of how the resolution appears in person. For exceptionally tall ceilings, this is our recommendation to clients. The standard mural is never printed larger than 10 ft high to preserve detail and quality.

We understand implicitly that quality is paramount and when one is investing in their home they want to ensure they will achieve the desired outcome, to that end we apply a great amount of rigor to our quality control process. We can’t speak to how other designers approach this however we did want to reassure you that this is where we place utmost importance.

If you would kindly reconsider the section related to Fine & Dandy Co. in your blog to more accurately reflect our production methodology, we would appreciate it tremendously and would be happy to extend our trade discount of 10% should you ever wish to install one of our murals.

Warmest Regards,
Carla Morano

Carla misunderstood me, but it’s my fault. I didn’t mean to imply that their resolution wasn’t large enough to produce a clear image. I do realize that what they’re posting on the web is not even close to being the same size file they are using to print their nine-foot high wall paper murals. My concern was the scale of the rendering compared to the original piece of art. In my return response, I said:

Hi Carla,

Thank you so much for your kind email. I would love a sample of your wallpaper(s) and have no problem revising the post to reflect what you’re saying. I can see that the finished murals are sharp. That’s not the issue I have a concern about. What I’m wondering is what is the scale of the original?

The etching style is very beautiful, but let’s say the original was 8″ x 12″ and it gets blown up ten times without loss of resolution. Now it’s 80″ x 120″. However, the beautiful fine lines are no longer fine, which, when viewed from a fairly close distance, might seem odd.  This is a universal issue I’m seeing with most manufacturers; some also have pixelation, which, of course, is awful.

I also love the Voyageur mural. I did track down the original (see below) and am impressed with how close your mural is to the original sans people. That’s understandable because it’s most likely more marketable without people.


Hi Laurel,

Thanks for your kind words!  We are very mindful of the distinction between a classical work of art that lives beautifully in a frame vs. wrapping a room or wall with it and having it be a “foundation” for a room that will contain other elements. Voyageur is a special mural for sure, I can say that because it’s going in my dining room!

Regarding your question about original size, this is an excellent question! This varies on a case by case basis but we should definitely talk more about this in our own marketing materials because it is of utmost importance to us, you can expect to see that called out more in our messaging. 

For our own original paintings we paint them on much larger canvases 3′ h x 5.33′ w – 4.5′ h x 8′ w and photograph them on museum quality full frame cameras at 600 DPI This allows us to blow them up to 4x their size and still maintain excellent resolution.


Resolution was never in question with this company. I can see that their resolution is superb. I am concerned with line weight and the size of the brush strokes, craze lines, cracks, etc.

For some of our artworks that are adapted from much smaller works as in Imaginarium, and a few others start at 12″ x 36″ to Voyageur which started at 45 1/4″ × 64 1/4″ we have various methods of enlarging without the pixelation that you sometimes see on some wallpaper lines. To accomplish this we add design elements like an overall etching finish, or in some cases brush strokes and crackle finish.

***In the case of Babylon we took a very small etching 12″ x 17″ and blew it up to 10′ height.

We then painted it ourselves in color. And added an additional layer of our own etching. In the case of Babylon the original was really used as a guide more than anything. We have the benefit of having fine artists on our team including our Co-Founder Shelley Weinreb who has painted several of our original murals.

The samples coming your way will be good indicators of two of our methods. What is the best mailing address to send these to?

Thank you again for revisiting the blog copy, we are tremendously proud of the quality of our products and  would want anyone considering a Fine & Dandy Co. mural to know that the final “outcome” is at the core of our business and everything else is built around it.

We’ll get those samples out to you this week!

All my best,


Three days later, my samples arrived by FedEx.

They sent three samples, but two done on different mediums. For our purposes, we’ll look at the most matte finish on canvas. The Zanzibar came on their highly textured bamboo finish, which is like grasscloth.  Each sample measures 8.5″ x 11″.  Since this is roughly 1/200th of the entire piece, they wisely put an image of the entire mural on the back of the sample with a red box indicating the tiny section you’re looking at.

Sample number one is Zanzibar.

This is a lush tropical mural measuring 18′ long x 9′ high. It sells for $1,048.00. That’s a durned fantastic price for such a huge piece of art. FYI, you can order a custom size. They don’t recommend getting anything larger than ten feet. More about that in a sec.

One can see quite clearly, that the brushstrokes are in scale with 8.5″ x 11″ piece of art. I think it helps to think of each sample as an individual piece of abstract art.

It is evident that this is one of their original compositions rendered at about 50% scale. Blowing up an image to double its original size is usually okay.

Sample number two is a reproduction of a fine piece of art by one of my favorite artists, Claude Joseph Vernet.

I took the liberty of finding the original Vernet and was impressed with how close they came to the original sans the people. I usually don’t mind people if they are well-done, but some people don’t like people.

(They’re the unluckiest people in the world.)

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

The original Vernet is a large painting at 45 1/4 × 64 1/4 in. However, the F & D mural is 108″ x 144″. While the brushstrokes and cracks are a little large, it doesn’t bother me; at least not on the sample. From a distance of five feet, it looks fine. And yes, I’m wearing my glasses!

Our last piece is the Babylon, the one that first captured my attention when doing a search for a verdant wall mural.

This is the one where they took a 12″ x 17″ etching and blew it up to ten times that size.

As I feared, the line weight looks ridiculous up close. You need to pull back a good eight feet for all of the little dots to come together to clearly be a tree branch and not a lizard.

So, I’m not saying not to get this mural. Not at all. What I’m saying is don’t put it in a 4.5′ x 6.5′ entry (like I have), or in a powder room, or a long hall unless it’s a hall in Versailles that’s 20 feet wide.

But, Laurel, don’t all reproduction pieces of art have the same issue?

That’s a great question, and the answer is no, they don’t. To avoid the issue of grotesquely enlarged scale, the mural should be rendered at the actual scale it’s meant to be seen as in the reproduction.

That’s what the Mural Source does. Paul Montgomery works his magic on a life-size canvas, and when it’s finished, they produce a print so vivid and clear that it looks to be the real thing. I can attest to this because I lived with one of his gorgeous printed murals for nearly over two and a half years.

As far as Fine and Dandy goes, I think it’s a fine company and obviously with owners who take a lot of pride in their product. They do show most of their work in opulent settings, and that scale is what is needed for many of their pieces.

One other thing about the company is their use of the unexpected in many of their wall coverings that aren’t murals.

For example, one gorgeous damask wallcovering has a human skull as part of its design. That’s not for everyone, but I enjoyed looking at their whimsical, for some, and for others, rather macabre designs.

Part 2 Begins Here


Hi Everyone,

This is a new home furnishings diary, and normally, the new posts will appear on top.


However, this first entry is a continuation of Wednesday’s post (1.31.2024)  about large wall art and murals.

If you’ve already read part 1, please click the link, below, to read part 2. If just landing here, please keep reading from the top.


Part 2 Begins Here


Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Please calm down. ;] No, the end of the renovation is NOT in sight. I am estimating at least another four months. If it’s three, then great.

In the meantime, I’ve begun seriously thinking about the home furnishings for my place. That includes furniture, as well as paint colors, wall covering, and art, etc.

So, this post will be a diary for home furnishings, colors, etc. Like the other renovation diary posts, the newest posts are at the top of the page.

The first renovation post began last August and has been a wonderful reference.




Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Today, I will begin with the new wall mural in the upstairs entry.

Anyone who’s read my blog for a few years or more knows I adore Chinoiserie and panoramic wall murals.

If you’d like to read about Chinoiserie murals, please go here.

And for panoramic murals please check out this post.

Another post I like a lot is this one about how to get big, gorgeous art masterpieces for very little money.

Unlike my previous apartment in Bronxville, NY, my home in Boston has some huuuuuge empty walls. While I’m not planning to fill each one, I’ve long desired to have artwork in three locations in the living room.


  • For the entry, a beautiful verdant wall mural.


Scenic Wallpaper - Jardin Anglais Dufour antique verdure mural

 Scenic Wallpaper


This would be fantastic.


kitchen render my new kitchen fantasy antique Dufour Jardin Anglais - home furnishings


Alas, it’s impossible. This is an antique Joseph Dufour hand-blocked masterpiece that’s also been restored by these talented folks at Scenic Wallpaper.


They specialize in the restoration of these magnificent old gems.

Many of them need an entire section to be seamlessly recreated to make the mural work.

Needless to say, (but I’ll say it anyway) ;] This is not even close to being in the budget. Doing 15 feet of an antique mural could cost $75,000 – $100,000 for a job my size, depending on the mural, its initial condition, and how rare it is.

32 inch high wainscoting and panel moulding living room - renovation 2024

Flanking the fireplace, I’ve long thought of some large Chinoiserie panels, but wider than the standard 36″.

However, it could be something other than that. While large, I don’t want them to overwhelm the room.


double x stair railing blue-gray chairs mirrored doors Sara Chandelier - home furnishings


And, for the wall over the staircase, maybe my antique Zuber screen. (This image is only for the screen. The doors are gone, the railing is different, and so is the wainscoting.)

In addition, the big empty wall in the den is quite visible from the living room.


However, like most everything I’m doing, there are several problems.


The screen is old and has a gorgeous patina that, while not impossible to replicate, would require a skilled artist to pull off, even on new Zuber wallpaper. It’s not that the screen is a problem, but putting other artwork or murals near it could be.

Unless it’s an awesome reproduction, anything new will fall flat if near the Zuber screen.


Most of the wallpaper I love, including the lovely Jardin Anglais, is attributed to the manufacturer Joseph Dufour, who had a company called Dufour et Cie or Dufour and Leroy in the late 18th c. into the 19th century.


You may recognize many of the designs produced by various companies.

None of these wallpapers have copyrights on them.

The reproductions are created by fine printing and produce beautiful, crisp designs on extremely high-quality wallpaper.

And, to reiterate, they are exceedingly lovely.


That is until you see the original pieces.


It’s like the day you had butter for the first time when all you ever had was margarine.

Just like that.

If we compare the antique originals to some reproductions, the difference is sometimes downright embarrassing.


Comparison bad reproduction mural with restored antique mural


See what I mean? On the left is a section of a 21st c reproduction of Jardin Anglais. It’s cartoonish compared to the far more detailed original.

Most of Dufour’s hand-painted wallpapers were created with hundreds of wood blocks and dozens of colors.


But still… If someone had taken the time, they could’ve created a reproduction that would mimic the restored antiques beautifully.


They only have to do it once. It bugs me that this is the best they can do, like we’re all so stupid we can’t see the difference?

Or, maybe that’s what the general public wants: the sanitized, dumbed-down version.

Another option for fine hand-painted reproductions is to get them from places like Zuber and DeGournay. And I’m sure they’ll put on some custom antiquing for you. However, we’re talking mucho bucks.


Let’s look at one more classic old/new mural comparison.

ile de calypso antique and new Joseph Dufour murals
Another iconic piece by Dufour is The Passage of Telemachus on the Island of Calypso seen above.

This one isn’t nearly as bad, and I do like the clouds in the repro, but still, by comparison, it’s awfully bossy and brash, like my son’s trombone cutting through an entire 70-piece orchestra.

My son Cale and his rusty trombone

However, one of the first tell-tale signs of a repro is that the paper is all in one piece. Back in the day, there were no rolls of paper. The murals were painted on much smaller sheets of paper, roughly 21″ square, and then pieced together. The result gives additional depth and charm to these fantastic murals, especially when looking at the sky.


Well, isn’t anyone making realistic-looking reproductions of the old originals?


Yes, someone is. Her name is Holly Alderman, and her work is exceptional.


Holly Alderman Vues of Italy - Winterthur

Holly Alderman Vues of Italy – Winterthur

While the work is printed, it is then hand-embellished. No two pieces are the same. However, I’m not sure if it’s live embellishing or digital embellishing.


boston-design-week- Holly Alderman Views of Italy

Boston Design Week. Holly Alderman’s Views of Italy


She seems to have two websites. It’s probably me, but I’m slightly confused about her process. That might be intentional. I believe she photographs these masterpieces and then embellishes them. They are printed, but each one is unique. Cool.

The work is gorgeous, and as expected, it’s expensive. One piece, okay, but I need 15 feet of wallpaper panels for my entrance. That’s about five panels. But, do check out her exquisite work!

However, there are high-resolution Dufour pieces available for download.


They are FREE.


Yes, FREE, and with no copyright restrictions! (but always double-check that!)

However, it would be possible if you wanted an original Dufour reproduction hanging in your home.


The Cooper-Hewitt Museum does have some Dufours. And one spectacular copy of Vue D’Italie. The originals look a little orange. However, that could be fixed.


Photo: Matt Flynn - Vue d'Italie via Cooper-Hewitt

Photo: Matt Flynn

However, that’s not difficult to fix.

vue d'Italie via Cooper-Hewitt archive - Dufour


I color-corrected it to be a warm sepia shade. However, all sorts of special effects could be added.


Scenic Wallpaper - Jardin Anglais Dufour antique verdure mural - exquisite home furnishings


Another view of the one I adore is the Jardin Anglais that you can see lovingly restored on this fantastic website, Scenic Wallpaper.


Okay, tomorrow night, I will share more on this topic and some things to look out for.





Part 2 Begins Here

Sunday, February 4, 2024


Hi Guys,

Okay, I can see from some of your comments and emails that I need to review some things.

Hand-painted murals of high caliber are tens of THOUSANDS of dollars. Plus, the cost of installation.

I have calculated that my mural would be well over $100,000!

This is why there are all of these fantastic companies making reproductions. It’s so that the rest of us whose last name isn’t Rockefeller can afford to put something beautiful up on our walls.

But, also hellishly expensive is anything with these names attached to them:


However, some of these companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are producing high-quality prints of their fine hand-painted beauties.


Laurel, if the names you just listed are hand-painted why are they 1/5th the price of a local artist’s hand-painted mural?


It’s because those companies with the fancy French names employ artists in China to do the hand-painting.

Now you, too, can do this; however, it’s very difficult to get the same quality with most of the folks you’ll find on Etsy, Chairish, and 1stdibs. While it’s a lot less, it’s still not inexpensive.


Of course, I would always get samples, read reviews, and ask to see finished projects like yours.


That is your right as a paying customer. If they say they don’t have any or you know they stole the image from another company, please move on.

The safest, least stressful way to get a gorgeous mural is a high-quality print. However, the operative word is “high-quality” which we will get to in a sec.


What about students, Laurel?


If you know of a talented student/”starving artist” (or one with a trust fund) ;] willing to work for minimum wage, then terrific.

Guys, this next point is probably going to come off sounding arrogant. But please don’t assume because I didn’t mention a source, it means I’ve never heard of them. The chances are, I’ve heard of them and written about them!

And, yes, I know who Chris and Julia are. I’ve mentioned them a few times, but I won’t do the same mural they did from The Mural Source because that one belongs to them. I wouldn’t be too thrilled if they copied what I did and then plastered it all over the internet.


So, where are the companies that make these printed murals?


There are several, and they all have winners and clunkers in their line. I did link to the post with this information, but I don’t mind (too much) repeating it here.

One option is to find the original mural, like the Vue d’Italie at the Cooper-Hewitt, and make your own piece of art from an original. It will require extensive photo editing. If that isn’t something you’re skilled at, some companies will not only edit the images for you but also be able to make a large image without any loss of resolution.


The science behind it makes a lot of sense.


Let’s say you have a file that uses 100 pixels to make a fingernail. If you need it blown up ten times, the fingernail will now have 1,000 pixels. However, one needs special software to do this. And you need to start with a sharp, high-res print, not 100 out-of-focus pixels. One can’t create something big if it’s not there when it’s small.

This means you’ll still need a high res image. But, it won’t need to be 150,000px x 500,000px.

You might also need to print your wallpaper in smaller than usual pieces. Cool. That’s how they did it 150 years ago!

I realize going this route isn’t for most people. However, it is possible.


Laurel, are you freaking kidding me?


No, I’m not. I’ve researched this, and it is totally possible. Even if you need help, creating your own digital art isn’t in the tens of thousands. It might be a few thousand, but you’ll have a gorgeous, large art print.

In fact, for the pieces flanking the fireplace, I’m hoping to create my own homemade gigagorgeous reproductions. Then, I can create a step-by-step tutorial.


In the meantime, if you’re interested in my favorite sources for high-quality murals and panels.


Please go to this post if you’re interested.

(There are also a couple of pics of the mural I’m considering doing! We’re coming to that soon.)

However, I recently came upon a company new to me.

Fine and Dandy. I’m not in love with the name. However, they have the most brilliant marketing ever.


Fine and Dandy Babylon Wallpaper
Fine and Dandy Babylon Wallpaper


And look below at this stunner from the Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore.


Fine and Dandy Imaginarium wall mural - Agate - photo - Ryan McCloskey
Fine and Dandy Imaginarium mural – Agate – photo – Ryan McCloskey

Now THAT is a staircase!

They’ve spent a fortune marketing their products to look like fine works of art in magnificent and opulent settings and then priced them in an affordable range. (relatively speaking) So smart!

And, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the murals. However, I have concerns about them if a large size is needed and it’s not in a castle-sized room.


OLYMPUS_BABYLON - Fine and Dandy
These are nine feet tall, although you can get them custom-sized. Below is what a one-foot width looks like, blown up several times what it is. You can see it smaller, above on the right, but close to the middle on the last branch of leaves.


However, this isn’t life-size.  On my screen, this is about an inch and a half. So, imagine this blown up even more; what you’ll see will look terrible close-up.

(Edit: February 19, 2024) To clarify, by awful, I meant that the weight of the lines will be too heavy, if viewed from close range.)

I do like the product, and their Insta page is glorious.

Please read my follow-up review of their murals based on the samples they kindly sent me.


So, where does that leave us?


For my entry, there is one lovely wallpaper I’m considering.

This paper is one of the Dufour classics available from numerous sources. However, in this case, my favorite, and by a lot, is the Monuments de Paris by Le Grand Siecle.


Le Grand Siecle entire Monument de Paris mural

Yes, it’s ridiculously small. The reason, I’m pretty sure, is because they don’t want anyone copying their art. However, I would think they’re also losing sales. If you missed the link above, you can see better-resolution shots here.


Le Grand Siecle Monuments de Paris detail

I know. It’s still blurry. I’m quite sure what you get won’t be. Anyway, this is a lovely reproduction of an old restored piece.

Let’s see how it looks in my entry– virtually.


my new kitchen perspective Monument de Paris - Dufour reproduction Le Grand Siecle


Now, get ready for the antique version found on an auction listing at Bonhams in July 2010.

Dufour & Leroy Monument de Paris c. 1820I color-corrected and brightened this up a bit.

Dufour & Leroy Monuments of Paris c. 1820


Oh, those colors!!! Glorious.


So, for funsies let’s see how this looks in my entry.


kitchen render my new kitchen perspective Monument de Paris - Dufour antique mural

Well, of course, it’s magnificent. However, my hunch is that in person, the reproduction from La Grand Siecle is stunning.


my new kitchen perspective Monument de Paris - Dufour reproduction Le Grand Siecle


What do you guys think?


It’s lovely, Laurel, but didn’t I read something about crown mouldings arriving from heaven or something like that?


moulding delivery from heaven

haha! Yes, that’s right.

Soon. Mouldingeddon. ;]

This is a big week coming up. Actually, the rest of this month.

Plus, we’re finally good to go on project egress door switcheroo!


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