Wallpaper. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Gorgeous patterns and colors? Grandma’s house? The hours you spent tearing down paper from the 80’s? As an interior designer, I love wallpaper. Few things can add as much interest and drama to a space as wallpaper can.
But there tends to be a gasp or a raised eyebrow when I mention wallpaper to some clients and I understand why. I’ve been in many spaces with overwhelming papers, poor installation, terrible borders and outdated patterns. These poor examples have made people unsure about wallpaper.
But I hate to see people stuck with a one-dimensional view of any design element. I like to open options for clients – to show them a new way to use a material that works for them in their space. Let’s talk about some basics and see if I can give you a new view on wallpaper.
There are oodles of wallpaper patterns out there: geometric, floral, stripe, plaid, dots, herringbone, brick and murals. Add the textures: grass cloth, anaglypta, vinyl, metal, basket weave, and flocked, among others. The first step is choosing a pattern and texture that is right for your space. Keep in mind the color palette, but also the business of a paper. The scale of the pattern needs to be in keeping with the scale of the space. Large, over-scale flowers may be just the thing for an accent wall but may suffocate a small room.
Speaking of accent walls, this is probably the safest way to start with paper. Behind the bed, in a niche, a fireplace wall, or any wall that can stand alone is a great place to put paper. It adds dimension and pattern without requiring a whole room of paper. And most of today’s papers have a non-woven backing that is fully strippable. No need to attack your walls with a razor blade in a few years.
There’s a practical side to wallpaper as well. If your walls are not in the best shape, or you need to protect a high traffic area, a thick or textured paper is your friend. A paper such as vinyl or grass cloth can hide imperfections while giving you something that hides marks and even absorbs sound.
And wallpaper isn’t just for walls. Consider the back of bookcases or built-ins. A little pattern placed there will pack a design punch for the room and show off your items on display. This small commitment can be easily changed on a whim.
Paint is great, and a wonderful go-to for a room transformation. But adding paper into the scheme adds pattern, color and texture that paint just doesn’t have. If your room lacks architectural elements, the right paper can give you a sense of character and history.
Convinced to try paper? A few things to know: Paper comes in double rolls but is priced by the single roll. The width of paper is not consistent, so you need to check the width when estimating your square footage. And don’t forget to see what the pattern repeat is. The smaller the pattern, the less of a repeat and less waste. Large patterns can have a straight match – meaning the pattern will easily match side to side, or a drop match – meaning the pattern repeats run diagonally, requiring more paper to repeat the design.
One last piece of advice is to hire a good installer. Check references, see their work, get a quote in writing and ask for a blood sample. Just kidding. But we’ve all seen what a bad wallpaper job looks like and I don’t want it to happen to you.
Is wallpaper a risk? Sure. But if you’ve got the right pattern and installer, the reward far outweighs the risk! Take a look at all the options available to you and wallpaper your world!
All images via Pinterest