Fine & Dandy Wall Coverings – A Review After Receiving Samples

 

Hi Everyone,

This is a follow-up to a post at the bottom of this page, where I shared some images from Fine and Dandy, a company that produces and sells large-scale murals and interesting wallpapers with repeating patterns, some quite bold.

 

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, the company’s co-founder.

 

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 about 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.

 

Oh, I believe it! Often, people scrape entire blog posts I spent 20 hours on, and put them on their websites!

 

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-foot 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. We would be happy to extend our trade discount of 10% should you ever wish to install one of our murals.

Warmest Regards,
Carla Morano
Co-Founder

 

***

 

Carla misunderstood me. I didn’t mean to imply that *their* resolution wasn’t large enough to produce a clear image. I realize that what they’re posting on the web is not even close to being the same size file they use to print their nine-foot-high wallpaper murals.

 

My concern was the scale of the rendering blown up larger than life, 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 might seem odd when viewed from a fairly close distance.  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 by Vernet (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.

 

***

;

 

Carla’s Response:

 

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 the 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.

 

Oh dear; she did not understand my point; as I said, 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., when the images are blown many times greater than their original composition.

 

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.

 

***Oh dear. Didn’t I just say that this is my concern? It is not pixelation.

 

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,
Carla

 

Three days later, my samples arrived by FedEx.

 

They sent three mural samples, but two were done on different mediums. We’ll look at the most matte finish on canvas, except for the Zanzibar that came on their highly textured bamboo finish. It’s like grasscloth and also quite matte.  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.

 

Zanzibar excerpt Fine and Dandy wall mural

Zanzibar, as shown on the Fine & Dandy Website

 

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.

Let’s look at the sample. Please note that I worked very hard to make these as accurate to what they look like in real life.

 

Zanzibar sample Fine and Dandy

 

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

 

I would guess 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, but more than that, is probably going to look distorted at close range. Can you pick out where this sample is on the mural? It’s on the right side in that big clump of white-ish leaves and the one sticking up the highest. My sample and what is shown on the website are in sync regarding color.

This is a successful piece, but it is large in scale. The good news is that they can scale their pieces down. Most of us can’t handle a mural that’s nine feet high, in any case. So, if you wanted to use this in a bathroom, with an eight-foot ceiling, I would scale it down to about five feet, then use the balance for crown moulding and wainscoting.

 

Zanzibar Comparison

The first image was taken at night and color-corrected to match my sample. The one above was taken in natural daylight.  The image on the right is my sample sitting next to the photo shown on my computer.  I can’t help but see a dolphin every time I look at this.

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

 

Can you tell which one is the original?

 

Original painting moonlight_2018.13.1

 

Voyageur - Beautiful wall mural - Fine and Dandy

 

Yes, number one is the Vernet. The Bottom one is the Voyageur mural from Fine & Dandy.

I’m impressed with how close they came to the original sans the people. I usually don’t mind people on murals 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. 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!

 

Now, let’s look at my sample:

 

Voyageur sample Fine & Dandy match to mural sample
Yes, it’s this dark.

comparison sample and website images mural Fine & Dandy
Above is a comparison of my sample and the image on the Fine and Dandy website. Please understand that on this one, I am not looking at resolution. However, I’m concerned that the sample is significantly darker than what they show on the website. This is why samples are imperative!

 

This is the same boat (above) in the original painting. (on the far right, below) The only reason this image is so clear is because the original piece is high-resolution. Scrolling back up, you’ll see that the original and the reproduction are virtually identical. And yet, my life-size sample from Fine and Dandy has none of the detail you see above in this tiny section of the photo of the original artwork.

 

Original painting moonlight_2018.13.1

While I love the artwork, when I look at my sample and how dark and lacking in detail it is, I’m trying to understand how the little image on the website appears to have more detail than my life-size sample.

 

Our last piece is Babylon, which first captured my attention when searching for a verdant wall mural a few weeks ago.

 

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

 

Babylon Sample

My sample is 8.5″ wide and is reduced by maybe 10% on my computer screen.

Do you see the problem?

 

Babylon Wallpaper sample - Fine and DandyWisely, they put the image on the back of the sample and then indicate what you’re looking at. It’s a good thing because when I look at the sample, mostly I see a bunch of heavy lines and dots. However, the thing on the top reminds me of a lizard.

Is there a word for this? It’s not pixelated, but it’s hugely distorted because no one renders an etching with such fat ink strokes.

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 snake.

So, I’m not saying not to get this mural. Not at all. I’m saying don’t put it in a 4.5′ x 6.5′ entry (like I have), 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 large reproduction murals 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 three years.

As far as Fine and Dandy goes, I think the owners take a lot of pride in their product. They show most of their work in grand, opulent settings, and that scale is needed for many of their pieces to truly shine. Like I said in my original comments, their marketing and Instagram pages are brilliant.

 

Another 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 these macabre/whimsical designs.

 

NEAPOLITAN_CYANIDE - Fine and Dandy
Neapolitan Cyanide

Please do check out the Neopolitan Sorbet. Yummy!

This is wonderful because one can get a true sense of the pattern’s scale. You could put this in pretty much any space.

 

But, see what I mean? The photography, styling, and colors can’t be beaten. Exquisite.

 

Okay, as Carla wished me to do, I revised my statement to reflect their methodology based on what she said and what I observed after seeing the samples of the real murals.

 

There’s a market for these large-scale, bold wall coverings. However, one needs to be mindful of scale. I mean, what are you going to say when your guests tell you how cool your lizard wallpaper is in the powder room?

By the way, I am not singling out this company. I’ve come to realize that this issue of blowing up small pieces of art is an issue for many companies. I see the same thing with many pieces at Ananbo, and I love that company. It isn’t an issue if what is reproduced is close to the size of the original piece of art.

Please tell me what you think in the comments.

xo,

 

***Please check out the recently updated HOT SALES!

There is now an Amazon link on my home page and below. Thank you for the suggestion!

Please note that I have decided not to create a membership site. However, this website is very expensive to run. To provide this content, I rely on you, the kind readers of my blog, to use my affiliate links whenever possible for items you need and want. There is no extra charge to you. The vendor you’re purchasing from pays me a small commission.

 

Amazon ad

To facilitate this, some readers have asked me to put

A link to Amazon.com is on my home page.

Please click the link before items go into your shopping cart. Some people save their purchases in their “save for later folder.” Then, if you remember, please come back and click my Amazon link, and then you’re free to place your orders. While most vendor links have a cookie that lasts a while, Amazon’s cookies only last up to 24 hours.

Thank you so much!

I very much appreciate your help and support!

 

17 Responses

  1. Hello Laurel,

    I have a couple of photos for you: One is showing recessed lights in a deVol kitchen that was shown on television and the second shows how a London antique shop finished the interior of an antique marble fireplace similar to yours, but I can’t figure out how to send photos through the comment section.

    As a designer, I appreciate how you work through decisions. And clients think it’s just like HGTV! (Is that really design?). As well, we’re adding an addition to our 1938 home, which is rather old for Denver, and making decisions for myself, although exhilarating, is painful. Brava to you!

  2. Hi Laurel,
    I agree your attention to detail is amazing! Your home is turning out to be so beautiful!

    I love your articles about wainscoting. What do you think about wainscotting that goes up 3/4 of the wall?
    Thank you. I love all your ideas
    Ilene

  3. I was going to vote for Babylon because it’s a serene work. I didn’t see the lizard tho, but you will see it every time you walk by so that is likely out of the running. It’s funny with prints how subjective they are. My sister has a large brown paisley wallpaper in a small room which I think is quirky and wonderful but she hates it because she sees something awful in there. I think the large painting you had with you in the temporary living quarters brought you such peace of mind and enjoyment. I hope you will find that effect in your mural! Take your time because you will live with it for a long time hopefully. Oftentimes art is live at first sight ! I hope you find something you love.

  4. I really like the idea of Wall murals. I have seen some in older homes and they are lovely. Most of us cannot afford Zuber murals which I consider the high water mark for wall murals, so we look for something close.
    My issue with your samples is the substrate or surface that they were printed on is very distracting. Some look like grass cloth, some look like canvas. There should be no texture! I like the paper murals for the reason that the print is so precise. I understand that canvas is commonly used, but it should be a very fine linen canvas where ultimately the texture is almost nonexistent.
    Also any time you alter something by enlarging it, you will get some degradation in the image. It is not possible to get a perfect image!
    Good luck with your choices. Though maybe you might consider doing large panels that are all part of the same image. This would enable you to get better, more affordable images. I have seen these done well in large framed panels along walls.

  5. Dear Laurel,
    Ok I admit I didn’t have time to read the whole blog through but wanted to share a comment before I have to run. I just did a large installation of a mural in one of my clients homes, and it turned out lovely.
    When I first considered the idea of a mural and spoke with them about it, I explained that it is a reproduction and will not look like the original art work. But none the less it will look beautiful.
    They were on board and yes it did turn out lovely and made the room. My point is, in using a mural, unless you have an artist come in a paint it on the wall, It is a reproduction and should be excepted as that and not expected to have the quality of an original. Great Blog, very interesting!

    1. Hi Teri,

      The issue is not that it’s a reproduction. Not at all! The Mural Source reproductions look like originals! That’s just how good the print is.

      The issue is the scale of the original art as opposed to the reproduction which is better if it’s close in size to the original, especially if viewed up close. This is not the same as resolution. It has to do with line weight, the size of brush strokes, cracks and craze lines. If these are blown up ten times their original size, it will most likely appear cartoonish, if viewed up close.

  6. I’ve seen the dangers of blown up art and murals as well! There are a few people I follow with grisaille murals in beautiful rooms that look great in pulled back shots, but the close ups of the paper are way too high contrast and overscale for comfort, if I were to try and install such a thing in my house.
    I once bought a large print of an impressionist-style tree once, and at 3’x4′ I found myself recoiling from that wall as I passed the image. Felt like the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter was out to get me! I sent it back the next day.

  7. Yes, sampling is so so important! Sometimes a pattern looks great on a vendor’s website or even in an install photo, but when you see it up close, something about it just isn’t right for you or for your space. I have rejected many wallpapers for my own home, and fabrics for my pillow shop or for my own home because of particularities that might work for another person or in another application, but just don’t meet my needs. For fabrics it could be the hand, the color or texture of the ground, the printing technique, the saturation of the colors, how stylized the pattern is, etc. For wallpapers, sometimes a digital print looks too pixilated for a room where you’ll be seeing it close up, or the brightness of the ground would be great for a bathroom but is too bright for a bedroom, or sometimes a paper that’s screen printed lacks depth in comparison to a handblocked paper in a similar pattern. Context is so important when making any selection.

  8. If I was in the market for a large mural, I’d seriously consider Fine and Dandy based on the communication and professionalism of the company. That kind of conscientious service is sadly lacking in many facets of the world today. That being said, I would like to see the difference between the samples you received vs samples from a mural the size you intend to install in your lovely home. I would think that the smaller the reproduction and the closer the size to the original, the less the exaggeration of brush strokes, etc. there would be. I oil paint myself and a painting looks quite different from the intended viewing distance and how it looks sitting at my easel. Whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be gorgeous and classy. The renovation is stunning so far.

    1. Hi Mary,

      The samples I received come from a mural that’s 108″ tall. My entry mural needs to be 84″. So, that means it’s still seven times larger than the original size.

      I too, am impressed by the professionalism of Fine & Dandy. I’m having a similar experience with the doors (incredible service vs. appallingly bad service) which I’ll be covering in an upcoming blog post.

  9. Your attention to this type of detail is what makes your blog so useful and so beloved. Many will not think of these details until after installation when it is too late to make costly changes. Thank you for providing this education as you continue to perfect your dream project

  10. Scale is so important, and so hard to get right. I think all the time we spend in the virtual world, on our screens and computer monitors, dulls our sense of real physical space. I live in an old, historic town. The design sensibility, proportions and scale in the homes built 200 plus years ago, without modern tools no less, shames the awkwardness of today’s new construction built with all the CAD tools available. You can tell the design looked fine on the screen, but in real life they look cut and pasted together. Which they were.

    I paint. One of the things I struggle with is the getting the brush strokes to be beautiful when viewed close up, and, at the same time, to have the composition be striking and cohesive when viewed from across the room. This is not an issue of loose, impressionistic brush strokes. One thing I’ve learned is that this is not a matter of having tiny detailing. It is the quality of brush stroke. Too large etching lines and craquelure would be a deal breaker for me.

    Enlarging art successfully has always been fraught. One rule of thumb for illustrators and designers has been to work large, then reduce down for the finished product. So these mural companies seem to be trying to do the opposite. That’s a very difficult task.

  11. Wonderful information that I never considered when choosing my mural. I can see how in certain settings this would be crucial, and love the attention you give to all these details. Your blog is full of great information for all of us that want to learn. On the other hand, Fine & Dandy Vapour is installed on my living room ceiling, and it adds height and mood to my small ordinary room in my very plain Victorian farmhouse. Of course the furnishings also have to work the story that’s being told. This is as grand as my house will ever be, so I live vicariously through yours! I am very pleased with the quality of the paper, depth of color, and how easily it installed.
    Andrea

  12. This is a very useful post for more than the murals! The problem of digitally magnifying any image is that it magnifies everything, and not just the subject matter. The problem is painfully obvious in your samples: the etching enlarged sample produces a pointilliste effect, and the Vernet enlarged sample magnifies the brushstrokes so that the impression is of a crumpled canvas. In both cases this effect would be corrected by the eye if one stood at some distance from the wall, as you point out. It’s the same effect you get looking at a large-scale oil painting in a gallery: you need to get up to 20 feet away, often difficult when there are hordes of visitors.
    But this also applies to enlarging prints or suchlike from digitized books on the internet: it’s wise to check the actual size and not go too far beyond it or the result will be disappointing. I’ve enlarged botanical prints from Ferrari’s Hesperides, but they’re less attractive once enlarged, and I use them as a pattern for watercolour “reproductions” — the original coloured versions were hand-coloured prints.
    Where enlargement really is a bonus is for tapestry design: you can enlarge to the point where you can see the individual threads, and use this as a pattern for petit point!
    But for murals, it’s fascinating to see the Zuber printing process, with a mix of colour printing from blocks and hand-painting — and watching this shows why theirs are so expensive.

  13. Hi Laurel,
    Your explanation was very informative. It reminds me of some of my first visits to the St. Louis Art Museum with my mother when I was about 10 or 11 years old and she would say “You have to stand back to appreciate it”. I think it can also be fun to appreciate the detail of an art work up close but like you say, you might see dots and lines and lizards rather than the overall scene the artist intended so you have to be able to “stand back”. Thank you, I always enjoy your posts.
    Carol

    1. Hi Carol,

      In the case of the etching mural, the artist did intend for the piece to be viewed up close because the original is only 12″ x 17″. Of course, there is incredible art by Chuck Close that if viewed up close you might see a soup can, but when you step back, you realize it’s part of an eyeball! However, that’s his genius and meant to be that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome To Laurel Home!

laurel-aarons-18th-e1456449963926

Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

New Edition, November 2023! Get The Indispensable Guide For 100s of Home Furnishings And Interior Design Sources That Everyone Is Raving About

laurels-rolodex-final-book-cover-master 10th edition 23-24

laurel home archives

Categories:

Please click the image below for more info about my rockin’ Interior Design Guides for 2024!

Laurel Home Interior Design Guides 2024
Amazon ad

please click below to check out my favorite decorating & design books

Laurel Bern's Favorite Interior Design and Decorating Books
Subscribe To The Laurel Home Blog And You Will Receive A FREE Guide Where I Share How To Get Your Paint Colors Right, The First Time.