Wallpaper is back in a big way. There…I’ve said it. And I’m positively happy to say it’s true.
I remember my dear Grandmother doing her own wallpapering in her ancient farmhouse. The effect was instant gratification: the tired old walls came alive with clusters of fresh strawberries on a field of crisp white. As a result, my mother was quite fond of wallpaper (perhaps too fond). She installed her own vinyl coated masterpieces in our family home. I remember helping her slather the back of each strip with the sloppy mess of thick glue, before smacking it onto the wall and wiping it carefully into place. Later, I relished the opportunity of choosing wallpaper for my pre-teen boudoir. And so, history repeats itself once again. In hindsight, I attribute these early wallpaper-related activities to my eventual interest in interior design as a career.
Wallpaper was quite the trend when I was growing up back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. I admit, I do shudder a bit at the thought of all that Wedgewood blue paper with its duck borders looming on the kitchen walls. Not to mention the teal and dusty-rose florals (with coordinating mauve carpeting) of the following decade.
I’m extremely pleased to inform you that today’s papers are a far cry from these disturbing memories of our decorating past. In contrast, the trends I’m seeing now involve not just wallpapers, but wall-coverings. There are treatments with raised embellishments (including sequins and hand-painting), wood veneers, shells, embroidery, metallics, stone, grasses, and more. The artwork is innovative and cutting edge. Maya Romanoff and Carl Robinson are two of my personal favorites amongst wall-covering designers, but there are others producing wall art from around the globe. Europe is especially fond of the wall-covering craze. It’s only a matter of time before this growing trend makes its claim on American households as well.
Aside from the variety of finishes and art available, are the new ways we designers choose to apply them in clients’ homes. Often I decide to place this fantastic focal element to only one wall, creating an outstanding focal point that coordinates with paint colors on remaining surfaces. Maybe the fireplace surround gets its own dose of excitement, or the inside backs of the bookcases might be just the spot for a pop of color. Sometimes I’ll insert wallpaper into picture frame molding, creating pockets of pattern and interest within the walls or below the chair-rail. Perhaps we’ll hang just 3 strips with a bit of space between each, creating an interesting vertical effect behind the sofa, or visually defining an over-sized wall. The ideas are limitless.
Reasons behind using these new application techniques are many. An attempt at keeping things simple, while not overwhelming the space is a major factor. Some of the art on the current papers is quite large and could clutter a small room. Using it like artwork, instead of enveloping the space is much smarter. Affordability is another reason to limit its use. Often these amazing wall treatments are quite costly and sold by the yard, like fabric, as opposed to the single roll method we’ve been employing for years. Using paper on just one accent wall allows for the super chic look of a high-end paper, without breaking the client’s budget.
Kristine Robinson, WCAA, WFCP
Owner/Designer, Robinson Interiors