This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in May/June 2022
Impossible to remove. Impossible to hang properly. Impossible to find a pattern you’ll still like in a year.
Forget everything you ever thought about wallpaper. Today’s products are nothing like the wallpapers that adorned homes in the 1970s and before.
“The products available today are applied differently than old-style wallpapers,” says Interior Design Group’s Meredith Beattie. “You still need a clean, smooth surface. But they’re so much easier to install and remove. And there are even some really high-quality peel-and-stick options available.”
Many homeowners hesitate to consider wallpaper as a design option even if they don’t plan to hang it themselves. The thought of removing it on their own later when they want to change the look is enough to scare off all but the most intrepid DIYer.
But Forget Me Not Design’s Melinda Seeman says, “Products are so much better now that wallpaper really can be a flexible decor decision. It installs and removes so easily. You’re not locked into that look indefinitely. And it isn’t a huge project to change it a few years down the road.”
One of the most exciting changes in wallpaper design is the almost endless options in color and pattern, as if ease of installation and removal weren’t enough to make you reconsider. The limitless possibilities for graphics and patterns have opened up the minds of homeowners and designers alike to new ways to incorporate this element.
“We offer a vinyl wallpaper line that can be embossed or printed with images that are so realistic, it’s amazing,” says Beattie. “I’ve seen animal prints, faux grass with texture added. Computers have made it possible to create just about any image and pattern you can imagine.”
Bold patterns and prints seem to be the most trendy, she says, although more traditional looks, like grass cloth, remain popular.
Forget Me Not Design carries a high-end, handmade wallpaper line that includes anything from sparkles to textures with embedded rope and twine. “We get a lot of clients who want to use wallpaper to create an accent wall, so adding sparkle or texture to the paper makes it even more dramatic,” she says.
Beattie says that the flexibility of today’s products has expanded the application options far beyond the typical dining room of days gone by. “We’ve done wallpaper applications in traditional areas like dining rooms and nurseries. But we’ve also used them on accent walls, ceilings, and in the backs of bookcases,” she says.
Sometimes the conversation begins with wallpaper as an option, but often, Beattie says, it becomes an option as the design concept grows. “Every client is different, and each one has a specific look or idea they’re trying to achieve. Once we get a sense of what they’re trying to accomplish with their space, we’ve found that there are numerous ways to incorporate wallpaper into that plan.”
The quality of vinyl wallpaper products available means that nearly any room in the home is a candidate for wallpaper application. With the cleanability of those products, wallpaper can be applied in kitchens, children’s rooms, high-traffic areas, and bathrooms where it might not have been a viable option in the past.
“Textured papers add dimension just by themselves,” says Seeman. “So they’re a great choice for a statement wall or a neutral backdrop where you still want to add some depth.”
One of her favorite projects was a torn-paper installation recently completed with a client.
“We used rectangles of wallpaper with a design that looked like concrete. We tore them to create rough, unfinished edges before applying them to the wall,” she explains. “The finished space was amazing. It added so much dimension even though it was a solid-color paper.”
Both Beattie and Seeman say that wallpaper never truly went out of style. But its use was limited, sometimes due to the installation difficulties and sometimes as a result of maintenance concerns.
Neither of those issues is a factor with the wallpaper products on the market now. From home offices and powder rooms to ceilings and accent walls, wallpaper is back in a big way. •
- Melinda Seeman Forget Me Not Design
- Meredith Beattie Interior Design Group