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I’m sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed that wallpaper has been making a big comeback! So let’s talk about how you can use wallpaper to transform your space as well as some of the considerations to take into account when using wallpaper. Wallpaper has the unique ability to transform almost any space. It provides the opportunity to introduce color, textures and patterns that can bring movement and personality into your space without major renovation. Yes, paint is less costly however it simply does not accomplish the same depth and added visual interest that wallpaper does.
When deciding on what wallpaper to use you should first consider the room it will be used in and which type of material is best suited for that environment. Wallpaper comes in many different types of materials and not selecting the right type of wallpaper can be a waste of time and money so we are going to review a few of the options and what to be cognizant of so that you can make the best choice for your space and lifestyle.
The Spruce. Photo by Christopher Lee Photo
If you’re thinking about installing wallpaper in a bathroom you’re going to want to consider using a vinyl or at least a treated wallpaper. As you can imagine a bathroom is a high humidity room and untreated wall paper can easily develop mold, bubble and degrade over time. Because of these reasons vinyl is a popular choice for bathrooms. You can also go the route of treating your wallpaper by using Decorators Varnish (or similar) but be sure to verify if you can use this product with your chosen wallpaper. If treating your wallpaper be sure that it is completely covered including all seams. Sealing is pretty invasive so I would first exhaust the vinyl options before selecting a wallpaper that will require sealing.
Morris & Co
The most common and traditional wallpaper is made of, wait for it… paper! You can find it in both pre-pasted, where you wet the back to activate the adhesive and unpasted. The unpasted comes in “paste the back” or “paste the wall”. Paste the wall is the less tedious option for obvious reasons, enter visions of I Love Lucy installing wallpaper.
Ok I’m going to come off as a wallpaper snob because I have to say this next medium is not my favorite…peel and stick. It often doesn’t adhere well and when it does it can strip the paint off your walls, tear and leave shreds of wallpaper on your walls. With that being said I can understand how if you are renting your home this may be a good option. If considering vinyl because you know it will only be temporary keep in mind these pitfalls and do your research on the brand. A good peel and stick is convenient and can add interest and personality to your space without the long term commitment of pasted varieties.
Next up is flocked wallpaper. I’m sure you’re imagining a Christmas tree right now and while not exactly the same it has a similar effect. Flocked wallpaper is the addition of velvet like fibers to the wallpaper creating patterns. While in the past damask was probably the most common pattern amongst flocked wallpapers there are now more contemporary options. If using flocked wallpaper be sure to clean any excess glue at the seams as it will ruin the flocking.
Chris Loves Julia
Murals are having their moment right now but they’ve been around since the 14th century! Murals are the ultimate statement piece and are popping up left and right in design houses and in the pages of Elle Decor and AD. They are large format designs and come in numbered panels with instructions on what order to install them in. Be sure the pattern will fit on the wall you wish to install it on and that there are no doors or windows that will require you to cut out a key element of the design.
Probably a little less common is paintable wallpaper. Paintable wallpaper gives you the ability to control the color while still getting the pattern and texture. Foil wallpaper is where a metal foil is used to add a metallic effect. Silk is another type where a silk fabric is paperbacked. As i’m sure you can imagine silk can be quite costly and fussy to maintain. Yet another medium is bamboo which is similar to some grasscloth options.
We could really get into the weeds here because there are numerous methods of printing wallpaper so we’re just going to name a few: Inkjet, surface printing, screen printing, block printing and grand format to name a few. Hand painted is just like it sounds the wallpaper is painstakingly painted by hand and therefore probably one of the costliest types of wallpaper, albeit unique and full of character.
Good Housekeeping by Virtually Home Studios
Patterns, the options here are almost limitless! From earthy and organic to playful or formal. Choose your vibe and you’re going to find it. Consider the use of the room and the mood you want to create. For a bedroom you are likely to want a pattern that feels soothing and serene but for a breakfast nook perhaps you want something that is a little more invigorating. A bold abstract print will signify a contemporary design where subtle patterns are going to feel a bit more sophisticated. Large and bold patterns make a statement where a floral print will suggest a more traditional or transition vibe. Use mini prints in subtle tones for an airy and spacious vibe. Darker and warmer mini prints will have the opposite effect if looking to create a cozier more intimate vibe.
Color and tone, it should go without saying but choose colors that will harmonize with the other design elements in the room. Lighter shades are going to make the room feel light and bright and darker, richer shades will give you that moody and cozy feel.
Below is just a small sampling of some reputable brands. Keep in mind you should always do your own research to determine what is best for you and your project.
Cole & Son
Farrow & Ball
Serena & Lily
Graham & Brown
Hamilton Weston Wallpapers
Osborne & Little
Spoon & Flower
Hygge & West
Riffle Paper Co
In summary there are many considerations when selecting the right wallpaper for the space, the mood and practicality but with so many choices in pattern, texture and color it is one of the most transformative design elements you can add to your space without major renovation.