If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a little bit of a thing for wallpaper. Like any heavily applied interiors trend, wallpaper is regarded as a love it or hate it décor treatment. It has always been a staple in interior design, dating back thousand years in Chinese culture and it was again popularized in 16th century Europe. In recent years, wallpaper became a less favored choice for wall finishes during Mid-Century Moderns’ minimal all-white walls and the excessively heavy handed misuse in the 1970’s and 80’s. While it has made many exits and entrances into hot-or-not lists, wallpaper continues to withstand trends to be a tried and true option in interior designs.
Once considered extravagance meant for only the wealthy, wallpaper is now a diverse and easily accessible wall décor built to suit any budget. While traditional paint may be less expensive, the options for wallpaper today are broad and more encompassing than in years past, making wallpaper an easy choice for an impressive statement. Whether you are happy to rent, live in your family home, own a loft in Tribeca, or a simple cottage, there will most certainly be wallpaper available that suits your style and budget.
When wallpaper is mentioned, this is what comes to mind; rolls of paper (usually purchased as a set), cellulose or vinyl material either pre-pasted or in need of paste adhesive to bond to the wall. Vinyl is still the most common type of wallpaper that is found on the market, not only because of the ease of use but also for the price. While both of these types of wallpaper can be found on the market, vinyl is considered the superior choice because it is easy to clean, lasts 10-20 years, and is quite fade resistant. The downside to vinyl wallpaper is that it does not allow walls to breathe, making it a poor choice for rooms that lack ventilation or have heavy moisture or temperature change, such as a bathroom or kitchen, sometimes leaving a lingering odor.
While vinyl is most commonly used, there are other options out there for roll application such as grass cloth and embossed. My personal favorite is the latest trend in wall decoration non-woven wallpaper. Made from a blend of natural and synthetic fibers, non-woven wallpapers are washable, tear resistant, quick and easy to install, and breathable. They are the most eco and user friendly wallpaper on the market to date, making them ideal for everyday people.
Portraying a well crafted photograph or a beautifully painted landscape, murals emulate the panoramas of the 18th century; such as Sauvages de la Mer du Pacifique. Created to cover an entire wall (usually around 8’ square), paper murals vary in scale, price, and styles. Ranging from the natural inspiration of forest, meadow, and beach scenes to photography and abstract design to animals, there is something to compliment any decor.
Advanced digital printing and large scale machines enable designers and consumers to use custom printing to create murals of their choosing, allowing for artistic expression and authentic design. This particular application is well suited to children’s rooms as many of the choices available are playful and educational, such as world maps and constellations. Wallpaper murals instantly liven up a dull space in a bold and colorful way.
A revelation for the ever changing world of design, temporary or removable wallpaper surged to life in the last decade. The concept of an easy on/easy off wallpaper treatment seems almost too good to be true. To have the visual impact of wallpaper without commitment and the tedious chore of steaming, hot soapy water, and litany of tools to remove it? Sign me up!
The concept of temporary wallpaper that can be removed without damaging walls is perfect for those who desire their rental to feel more like home or homeowners who want to make a statement without the commitment of traditional wallpaper. There is much discussion on how to install, and if temporary wallpaper is as reliable and sturdy as the real thing. To be frank, if you follow a short set of guidelines and go with a quality, reputable wallpaper brand, there is very little to fear. Take the plunge.
This final form of “wallpaper” inserts the most texture into a space with lifted 3D designs in neutral colors. Easily paintable, tile wallpaper ranges from traditionally patterned to playfully sci-fi. Tiles can be as basic as a brick wall or carry a more artistic expression like 3D cherry blossoms and are generally created using 3D laser printing. If you are into contemporary modern design or just want to insert a giant conversation piece into your space, this wall application is ideal.
Modest matte white in color and geometric in design, these lifted tiles make the perfect backdrop in a dining room or entryway. Some feature angular, sharp shapes. Others are more wave-like with rounded flowing edges. One thing is certain, these designs all pack a mighty design punch and inject flair into any space.
A newly papered wall wouldn’t be complete without dressing the windows that grace it. There are a few ways to approach window treatments when they are a complimentary element in a wallpapered room. It all depends on the style of design and energy you are wanting to create in the space. For a simple statement, allow the wallpaper to be the main focal point of the room and treat the windows in solid colored and non-textured drapery and roman shades. Create visual interest by layering texture and depth by adding woven shades or wood blinds. Then boost the drama with a contrasting cornice or drapes. To maintain a fluid clean look, match the color of the window treatment to the base color of the wallpaper with drapery, roller shades, or solar shades or select one color from your wallpaper and feature that as the primary color throughout the room and on the windows. The most dramatic direction to take window treatments in a room with papered walls is to thoughtfully layer patterns, but be mindful of too many patterns or an abundance of color diversity. Be moderate and disciplined to ensure that your space doesn’t go from uniquely interesting to over-designed. Wallpapers and window treatments require a stealth hand.
Access to the world of wallpaper and wall finishes is virtually endless with the technological age we currently live in. With infinite options, we are bound to feel overwhelmed with choices and encounter frustration and confusion on where to source materials and who to shop with. To make this journey more fun and less fuss, I have a trail of breadcrumbs to leave you with to find my favorite companies and sites to shop for wallpaper choices. Creating a statement in your home and making a change to your walls shouldn’t be hard. After all, it’s just a little paper!
My Favorite Wallpaper Places
Hygge & West – A wallpaper and removable wallpaper tile company that also offers fabric and pillows. Hygge & West is a top choice.
Anthropologie – Anthropologie never disappoints with prints that pack a punch and unique murals, even if the selection is limited.
Aimee Wilder – Always fresh and playful, her patterns are diverse enough to place in a nursery, hallway, or den.
2Modern – A favorite site overall. They carry so much more than wallpaper, but I find that their selection is always on trend and unique.
Walls Need Love – These guys have it all for temporary wallpaper, full scale and small, shaped decals as well as temporary wallpaper.