Wallpaper, borders, and chair rails can each stand on their own, but they also can reinforce one another. The Victorians in particular loved to combine papers. Below the chair rail would be a paper with a dominant image. Above the rail a contrasting paper gave way to a wide ceiling border. Ceilings were papered. Sometimes ceiling borders and corner molding were layered on regular paper.
The current approach to wallpaper combinations is somewhat simplified in comparison, but most wallpaper pattern books do contain bold paper and border combinations designed to work well together. Homeowners can combine pattern books and their imaginations to suit their sense of style and taste.
WONDERFUL EXCESS- A well-appointed Victorian room took wallpaper to its zenith. Across the top of the wall would be a wide border called a frieze. Below it, the paper ran two-thirds or more of the way down the wall. It was usually printed with a small, repetitive pattern called fill. Below the fill was a border applied at chair-rail height.
Just above the baseboard, the dado met yet a third border, distinct from but complementary to, the frieze and chair rail. This lower border ran along the baseboard and around the doors and windows. Sometimes a wallpaper corner block would be applied wherever the border turned a corner. Sound complicated? This is precise work where mistakes easily can be made. But if you've mastered a border with two complementary papers and actually liked doing it, you may be a candidate for the full Victorian treatment.
Ask your wallpaper dealer (or check renovation magazines) to find makers of reproduction papers. You'll find a world of papers you never dreamed possible. Start small. Look at some dados that include both the chair rail and baseboard borders, making the job much easier.