Pretty Papered Walls
Geometrics, Florals, Metallics and More Breathe New Life Into Your Walls
By Elizabeth Anthony
The ’50s loved florals, the ’60s were bold and stylistic, the ’70s favored fauxs and flocks, the ’80s and ’90s preferred prints and pastels with a country charm. What is certain is that like everything else, when it comes to wallpaper, everything old is new again.
Possibly one of the first interior design techniques, it’s believed the Chinese began attaching rice paper to walls more than 2,000 years ago. Modern wallpaper dates to the Renaissance, when it was used as an affordable wall covering alternative to tapestries and woven fabrics. Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, wallpaper patterns were block-printed and hand-colored. By the mid-1800s, machines produced wallpaper with greater ease and less expense, and in the 1950s, pre-pasted wallpaper was invented.
Although wallpaper’s popularity waned during the late 1990s and 2000s as design trends veered toward more streamlined decor, it’s making a comeback now with a fresh, new look. Modern-day wallpaper proves to be less subtle, and consumers now have a wide range of options.
Colors and Patterns for 2015
This year will highlight a variety of trends to suit any interior design taste. Clean geometrics, natural elements and their interpretations (grasscloth, brick, cement, wood) and watercolor techniques are very popular. The shimmering effect of Mylar is also trending with its retro look and feel combining with new designs and techniques. The full range of blues, Egyptian Blue to indigo, is also strong. Glimmers of metallic gold are also gaining popularity.
“Rich jewel tones have reached new pinnacles of popularity ,” says Gina Shaw, vice president of new product development for York Wallcoverings. “Blue is stunning combined with analogous shades like teal and bottle green, as well as contrasting hues. It’s great for grounding an otherwise light and airy room.”
“Gray continues to be a strong neutral in interiors,” says Shaw. “But the gray for 2015 is trending warmer and more brown as in our ‘Color of the Year for 2015,’ Mink. It pairs easily with just about any color and can be a beautiful backdrop for a variety of design schemes.”
Craftsmen in paint and paper, Farrow & Ball has taken inspiration from 19th and 20th century French fashion for the latest additions to its wallpaper collection. Found in the Ducharne and Albert Dufours collections, the new patterns have been translated from fabric designs into dynamic new wallpapers. The large-scale papers combine 19th and 20th century design and artisanal block printing production methods with contemporary colorways, to create papers that will add fluid pattern to any style of home.
“The inspiration for these new papers came from time spent in Paris,” says Charlotte Cosby, Farrow & Ball’s head of creative. “The movement within the patterns really caught my eye and I could instantly see them translated into wallpaper. They come from fabrics created for clothing, which is increasingly relevant given the ever-closing gap between fashion and interiors.”
Osborn & Little also displays a flair for the exotic. Turkey provides the inspiration for new collections of decorative wallcoverings enhanced with animal kingdom prints and presented in striking color groups. All the designs are printed on the easy-to-hang non-woven base. The colors and flavors of India are also a source of ideas for a new line of wallpapers, and another is inspired by the castles and landscapes of Ireland, with more muted tones and geometric metallics.
Designers Guild, too, was motivated to create nine new designs stirred by the beauty and timeless elegance of Shanghai gardens. Florals, brush-stroked watercolors and a new panel wallpaper design (comprising one roll that creates a full, digitally printed image) offer serene images from classic Chinese landscapes.
Industry leader Harlequin launched its hotel-chic Momentum range three years ago, and it has rapidly become established as both an iconic brand within the company’s portfolio and a trend-setter within the interiors world.
Claire Vallis, design director, expands: “We felt very strongly that the most interesting interior design trends were being channelled through the newer, cutting-edge hotels and, having studied them, we tried to recreate this mood and feel in the latest Momentum collections. They are targeted at the domestic and contract markets, but they retain an architectural, structural feel.”
Elegant and sophisticated, the wallpapers create the perfect backdrop to the fabrics and also make a striking statement in their own right. The entire collection benefits from a glorious colour palette that enhances the intrinsic beauty of the designs, incorporating fashion hues, gentle organic tones and warm jewel shades.
Walls and Beyond
People are using wallpaper in more interesting ways. Going beyond the typical four walls, wallpaper can be used to line the backs of bookshelves, designate an accent wall or bring a child’s bedroom to life. Some of the most popular areas to decorate with wallpaper include powder rooms, half baths and entryways.
Wallpapered ceilings are an increasingly popular option for creating visual impact in a room. This option is most effective with a cornice that will separate the wallpaper from the painted walls. Wallpapered ceilings create a feeling of intimacy and coziness and are also great for covering up imperfections.
Closets, too, are getting papered. Just because a space serves a utilitarian purpose doesn’t mean it should be boring. In fact, since a closet is typically a smaller space than most and more obscure, it may well be the perfect place to go wild and choose a fun, over-the-top paper. Wallpapering a closet is the perfect opportunity to splurge and purchase expensive paper. Choose smaller patterns as large patterns or prints may overpower the closet.
Creating a custom pattern is also an option, as shown on websites such as designyourwall.com or spoonflower.com. For those favoring an understated route, try textured wallpaper, which comes in a neutral color and can be hung and painted or left as is. Wallpaper doesn’t have to be bold or bright; it can be subtle and can really personalize a space.
Wallpaper works on just about any surface or room in the home. It’s ideal for drywall or plaster walls, but there’s really no limit to hanging wallpaper. For example, moisture-resistant wallpaper makes it possible to decorate a bathroom without curling and peeling, and specialized wall liners make it possible to hang wallpaper on cement block or even brick.
Because wallpaper is hung in sheets, the biggest challenge is aligning each sheet so the patterns line up, which means the more windows or obstacles you have to paper around, the more difficult the job will be. Remember to consider the number and placement of windows and doors in your home, and be sure to cut sheets and meticulously hang them around these obstacles.
To avoid peeling, pick wallpaper made of vinyl or any type of moisture-resistant wallpaper for rooms where moisture and humidity are present, such as a bathroom or laundry room.
Additionally, check to make sure ceilings and walls are level because if you select geometric shapes for your papers, they likely won’t line up correctly if things are out of whack.
Do-it-yourselfers will appreciate York’s major innovation of simplified installation with its SureStrip technology. Beyond the pre-pasted adhesive, the process is further simplified with a proprietary spray gun that eliminates the need for a water tray and therefore makes the entire process less messy. Furthermore, clean removal of the wallpaper when it’s time for a change is 100 percent guaranteed, a real plus in the whole equation.
Types of wallpaper
Manufacturers make wallpaper from a variety of materials, but the most common types are vinyl and vinyl-coated wallpapers, mainly due to their durability, low cost, fire resistance and ease of installation.
- Vinyl wallpaper — Made entirely of durable vinyl, this wallpaper is perfect for high-moisture rooms, such as the bathroom or laundry. However, the moisture resistance can actually make it harder to remove than vinyl-coated or paper-backed wallpaper.
- Vinyl-coated wallpaper — Desirable for its low cost and high durability, vinyl-coated wallpaper is the most popular type and ideal for high-traffic areas or playrooms. It’s made of paper and coated with a protective layer of acrylic vinyl. It is much easier to remove than solid vinyl wallpaper.
- Paper-backed wallpaper — Highly durable, this type of wallpaper resists some moisture but is more susceptible to peeling, so shouldn’t be used it in bathrooms or laundry rooms.
- Fabric-backed wallpaper — Made of woven fabric backing with a vinyl coating, this wallpaper is just the thing for hiding walls with visible deformities.
- Foil — Foil wallpaper creates a metallic look unlike other wallpaper types. It’s made of a thin sheet of foil and a paper backing, and while beautiful, it is extremely fragile and difficult to hang.
- Flock — This type of wallpaper resembles velvet or other fabrics and inspires a retro look. It can be great when paired with modern furnishings. Flock is difficult to clean, so maybe install this in low-traffic or formal areas.
- Grasscloth — This all-natural wallpaper is made of woven grasses and plant fibers, so it’s a perfect option for an eco-friendly home. Its rough texture also makes it great for masking imperfections in walls. It creates a classic look, but because it is a natural fiber, no two types look alike. Grasscloth is also hard to clean, so hang it in low-traffic areas.
Styles of wallpaper
- Brick wallpaper — A type of vinyl wall covering, brick wallpaper lends the inherent warmth of exposed brick to drywall or plaster. From red brick to Tuscan to rustic, it is available in a wide range of styles and colors and easily adds rustic charm or modern distress to any room.
- Damask — This classic style is desired for its luxurious and elegant design. The ornate pattern dates back centuries to weavers in Damascus and generally features intricate patterns on a white background. It’s perfect for formal rooms or accent walls.
- Paintable — Paintable wallpaper offers the best of both worlds: the designs and textures of wallpaper with the wide range of colors available with paint. This option is a blank canvas that allows you to create a one-of-a-kind look.
- Mural wallpaper — By choosing mural wallpaper, you can literally bring any city skyline to your home office, or display any iconic landscape in your dining room. Many wallpaper companies now make custom wall murals based on a photograph the customer submits.
There are so many creative ways to decorate and use wallpaper within your home and new looks, innovative technology and design techniques are always evolving. Achieving pretty, papered walls has never been easier or more fun.
Pretty Papered Walls