The other day in the design studio I was working with a client and I suggested we use a fun wallpaper to her lackluster powder room.
“Fun?” she quipped while slightly recoiling at the mere mention of the idea.
I could tell I had some convincing to do.
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I felt pretty sure I knew what she was thinking. Memories of grandma’s faded cabbage roses from the 1950s or psychedelic paisleys from the ’60s or even those metallic foil papers from the disco era probably came to mind. Plus, the hassle of removal conjures up all kinds of messy images no one wants to deal with.
It used to be that the mere mention of the word “wallpaper” would make people cringe. Many still do.
Actually my client wasn’t alone. I remember the beautiful Colonial Revival home from my childhood. We loved that house, with its nicely proportioned rooms and great woodwork details. However, we inherited some very ugly, very dated wallpaper in the kitchen and bathrooms left by the original owners.
Although my mother promised she would replace it, it didn’t happen. Eighteen years later, when my parents moved to a new home, that wallpaper was still there. And, frankly, those papers hadn’t grown any more attractive over time.
No mess, no commitment
But it’s 2017 and I am happy to report that wallpaper is experiencing a renaissance. Only this time, it’s had a complete makeover. Stunning patterns and a wide array of styles are currently available for just about any type of decor. With the advancements in adhesive technology, modern wallpaper is so much easier to install and remove. No more mess and no more fear of commitment.
Wallpaper can be a practical choice for certain rooms. Most modern papers are made from vinyl, which repels water, resists humidity and is very durable. If you use a professional installer, it will not only look great but also will outperform any painted surface.
I frequently vote for textured vinyl wallpaper in the bathrooms in my clients’ homes. The textures can be subtle or more pronounced and the surfaces can mimic grasscloth, seagrass, bamboo, stucco, cork, or other interesting textures. Unlike paint, textured wallpaper can give the illusion of depth and warmth.
Textured vinyl papers are not only for damp locations. I have used these durable products in hallways and stairwells too. Their tough-as-nails finish holds up in high-traffic areas, surviving children with toys and adults with suitcases.
As convincing as the textured vinyl products are at mimicking luxe materials, nothing can truly compare to the elegance of a real grasscloth. The fibrous matte finish of these natural woven materials is comforting and quieting. I love using grasscloth in an office or media room to give the space a serene, cocoon-like feel.
Using wallpaper to create a feature wall is an ideal way of introducing wallpaper into your home. They can also be stunning on the headboard wall of a bedroom.
Textiles such as silk or linen add a dressy ambiance if you want that greater formality. Many of these are true works of art. However, these are not easily cleaned nor do they hold up well to moisture, so think carefully about where you use them. And, please, do not get hung up about the visible seams as that is part of the look and charm.
Metallics and foil wallpapers have a shiny surface and a dressier look. It is a dramatic choice and probably better suited for smaller spaces where you want to make a statement. Phillip Jeffries has a line of metallic “granite” papers that have the appearance of mica. I have used them in several clients’ powder rooms as an elegant and sophisticated background.
Wallpaper can be a polarizing home decor element, but it need not be. With careful selection and professional installation, it can provide a personal decorative touch and add value to your home at the same time.
Gregory Vaughan is an interior designer with Kelley Designs. Contact him at 843-785-6911 or email@example.com.