Courtesy Frances Janisch Photography
Sylvia Lukach’s floral wallpaper designs for Cape Lily Home are an homage to South Africa and the Hudson Valley.
Sylvia Lukach, of Irvington, is the owner and creative director of Cape Lily Home, a boutique home textiles studio (with a showroom in Tarrytown) that draws its inspiration from Lukach’s South African roots.
The Afrobotanical Collection, a new line of wallpaper that Lukach created, is getting rave reviews from interior designers and homeowners. Instead of traditional painted floral designs on dark backgrounds, Cape Lily’s paper features artfully arranged blooms on a white, textured background for a brighter, airier look. The secret? Real flowers. Lukach arranged the South African varieties—a mix of King Protea, amaryllis, dahlias, and blushing bride—which were then photographed and printed onto sisal grass cloth to give it a textured feel. “I’m not doctoring those flowers in any way in the postproduction process—they’re 100 percent natural,” explains Lukach.
How It Happened
In 2020, Lukach saw Cape Lily, her floral design and travel business, upended by Covid lockdowns. With Cape Lily, Lukach specialized in flower arrangements for weddings and other events, but also offered group trips to South Africa to explore the plants and flowers. With events and travel canceled, Lukach was forced to take a pause, she says. “That summer I was thinking how to cheer up our house a little bit, and I thought I’d put some fun wallpaper up the stairs,” she explains. But the floral patterns she found looked too traditional. “Rigid, painted patterns with small repeats. None of them were real flowers brought to life in a natural way,” she recalls. So, she did some research, arranged a photoshoot, and found a manufacturer in Connecticut to produce her floral wallpaper in a sustainable way.
Lukach had a career as a corporate management consultant but always dreamed of owning her own business. Then three months before her wedding in 2015, her mother unexpectedly passed away. “It just caused me to think—to change things up,” explains Lukach. Her mother had been a florist and her dad a landscaper in South Africa. “I knew I could do something with flowers—I was passionate about that, and it obviously had a strong connection to my mother. So, I decided to just give it a go while I was working full time,” she says. After a year and a half, she left corporate life for good to run Cape Lily.
Being a floral designer was beneficial for the process of creating wallpaper. “You need a good eye for color, form, and shape, but it’s also how you pull all the elements together,” explains Lukach. Her experience also helped with the photoshoots, she adds: “Not everyone photographs flowers every day. They don’t think about the angles of a flower or how to light them and which flowers look good together.”
“The wallpaper feels like a culmination of all my passions,” says Lukach. “It’s the flowers from my home country, which is a very special place to me, as well as my aesthetic and values. It’s marrying all the things that I love while creating a successful business.”
More wallpaper designs, with an eye toward a seasonal collection that will feature floral prints inspired by Hudson Valley varieties. “A lot of those flowers will come from local farmers,” adds Lukach. And since wallpaper is a big investment, Lukach is also experimenting with more affordable products that will feature the same design elements as the wallpaper including wrapping paper and table linens. To order Cape Lily Home’s Afrobotanical collection, visit the showroom in Tarrytown or capelily.com/shopwallpaper.