Why Not Wallpaper?

Wallpaper can spruce up any room.
(Ninoon/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New styles and innovations make today’s wallpaper a great alternative to paint.

If you want to play it safe and simple, stick with tried-and-true paint. But if you yearn to infuse some excitement and visual panache into a living space, don’t be afraid to “color outside the lines” a bit by choosing wallpaper, an option that has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

Allison Thibault, principal designer at Kaleidoscope Design Studio in North York, Ontario, Canada, says wallpaper has been back in vogue for longer than you may think. “It has deftly made a huge comeback over the last several years because of improvements in wallpaper technology, such as the availability of pre-pasted and pick-and-stick wallpapers as well as affordable print-on-demand custom wallpaper, for example. Thanks to these improvements, it’s even easier and less of a commitment to give your space a quick update with wallpaper instead of paint,” she says.

In-demand wallpaper styles and patterns nowadays include embossed designs, textured wallpaper, and grasscloths as well as juicy hues and sheens like pink, green, gold, and metallic. “Floral wallpaper is making a big comeback, too, with colorful flora and fauna patterns trending in boho decor and nurseries. Abstract patterns and natural textures like burlap are also a huge focus,” explains Cara Newhart, a Houston-based interior designer. Warren Braithwaite, CEO of Los Angeles-headquartered J. Baron Construction, recommends wallpaper for carefully chosen interiors.

“Wallpaper is best to set off smaller spaces with drama or larger spaces with texture. Accent walls, small bathrooms, and dining rooms are all solid candidates,” he says. “I tend to look twice before putting it in large areas unless it is muted and textural.”

For high-traffic areas or kid-centered rooms, the pros recommend sisal or peel-and-stick vinyl wallpaper, which are washable, stain-resistant, and more durable. Bathrooms typically require paper-based wallpaper applied via an unpasted adhesive for longer-lasting seals along with good ventilation to prevent humidity and moisture from damaging the adhesive.

Simple jobs, small spaces, and peel-and-stick products can be wallpapered handsomely by newbies and DIYers. Plentiful YouTube tutorials and online articles exist that can guide any beginner through the process. “However, an entire room or large, intricate space should be taken on by a professional so that the wallpaper aligns correctly,” cautions Braithwaite. “Features like vaulted ceilings will mean bringing in scaffolding, which means the job will become more challenging and demanding.”