Wallpaper: Design’s Comeback Kid

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It’s easy to recreate any look you see in a magazine or on TV with paint—and there are plenty of blog posts out there that will teach you how to do just that, step by step. After a while, though, those looks—those trends—grow tiresome. You start seeing the same paint color, the same backsplash, and the same mirrors at all of your friends’ houses, and it all becomes ubiquitous—not personal. You might have considered stenciling a wall, but that sounds like a lot of time (and a lot of work). What will you do?

Try wallpaper.

Using the right wallpaper in strategic places is one way to set your home apart in the sea of HGTV replicas. When you approach the way you decorate your home the same way you choose clothing for yourself, you select the right color, size and pattern that looks the best to you—and looks the best in your home.

What wallpaper can do for you

“Today’s wallpaper is fresh, new and clean, and can even look like wall texture or a painted-on design,” says interior designer Moyanne Harding of Interiors by Moyanne. Sydney Stephens, wallpaper specialist at James T. Davis, agrees and says there are wallpapers available now that have the look of tile, wood—even shiplap.

“There’s been an increased demand for wallpaper over the past year, especially from the younger generation,” Stephens reports. Millennials come in frequently, requesting wall coverings in grass cloth and geometric prints such as trellises.

What advantages does modern wallpaper have over paint?

• Revamps and refreshes your space
Harding likens wallpaper to a work of fine art. “It can transform a room like nothing else in an instant,” she explains.

• Conceals
“Wallpaper is really great for covering imperfections and unevenness in the walls,” says Stephens.

• Protects
Durable heavy-duty vinyl paper can be wiped and washed off, making it perfect for a kitchen or bathroom (or house with young children).

Fear not

While peel-and-stick and pre-pasted wallpaper are still available, a more popular option is the paste-to-wall product, which is what Stephens normally recommends since it’s easier to work with. “You roll the paste on the wall like a paint and then just stick the paper to it.” She also notes that the product stays wet for a little while, so you have some time to move it around if necessary. Today’s easy-strip products are also much more user-friendly than their predecessors were, so it won’t be as painful when the time comes to re-do a room.

Best applications

• Foyers, stairwells and bedrooms will make a grand impression with the right wallpaper, says Harding. She also likes to use it in closets (such as linen closets or larger walk-in closets) for a nice surprise, and in bathrooms.

• Stephens finds it really striking in dining rooms and kitchens.

• Thinking about an accent wall? Wallpaper adds a natural focal point when used sparingly.

• You can also use it in smaller applications, like framing wallpaper as art or adding punch and visual interest to the back of shelves.

Other tips and wisdom

After you put this magazine down and type in “wallpaper ideas” into Pinterest, Stephens recommends getting in touch with a professional so you can make sure you have the right products and the right directions on how to either hang or remove wallpaper.

If you’re still on the fence about the idea, ask yourself if you want your space to go from “ok” to “wow.” Harding shares this: “I always get a chuckle when I hear a resistant client because I know I am going to push them over to the other side of loving what wallpaper can do.”

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