You might need sunglasses for this stunning design trend: Metallic wallcoverings

You might need sunglasses for this stunning design trend: Metallic wallcoverings
Interior designer Oliver M. Furth's Los Angeles living room goes metal. (Roger Davies)

If all the sensible backyard chicken coops, solar-paneled fences and low-water gardens of modern day living have made you long for a dash of glamour — even, dare we say, decadence — you're in luck.

Or in style, to be more precise, as metallic walls are starting to pop up in the hippest homes via paint and wallpaper.


Once used just for accents, gold and silver paint are being used to cover ceilings, powder rooms, and even entire rooms. Interior designer Oliver M. Furth gave the walls of his living room in the Carthay Circle neighborhood of Los Angeles an instant makeover by covering them in silver (the "Ambassador Sterling" Duchess Satin paint by Sydney Harbour ). "I used paint that's intended more for fine art, and the store questioned me when I ordered several gallons instead of the typical small jar size," he says with a laugh. "[But] I treat metallic as a neutral — silver goes with everything."

The effect, less Andy Warhol Factory and more Park Avenue polish, is surprisingly versatile.

"Before it was silver, it was painted a warm, 'sourdough bread' color, which was very nice, but not dramatic enough," Furth explains. "The silver reflects the light and enhances the existing brightness but with some added drama. It's a lovely room to use during the day; at night, with candles and lamp lights, it becomes glamorous and sexy."

With reasonably priced gallons from Ralph Lauren and Benjamin Moore readily available at your local Home Depot and stores like Jill's Paints in Atwater Village, DIY'ers are just a day or three away from transforming the room of choice into a glittering showstopper.

A sampling of Kelly Wearstler's metallic wallpaper.
A sampling of Kelly Wearstler's metallic wallpaper. (Kelly Wearstler Lifestyle)

More skill — or a hired professional — is generally required if you want to follow the wallpaper trend into metallic territory.

Design expert Kelly Wearstler, known for possessing a Midas touch when it comes to the use of gold and silver accents, finds metallic wallpaper endlessly creative.

"Metallic brings a combined sense of luxury and history wherever it appears," she says. "Using metallic wallpaper gives a space an unexpected, distinctive and alluring voice. It adds rich dimension and highlights the entire room like a jewel box."

Such lustrous walls, however, require thoughtful composition for the rest of the room, Wearstler said.

"If using a bold metallic pattern on the walls, opt for more tempered elements within the room for juxtaposition — simple silhouettes, subtle color palettes," she advises. "As with all compositions, the key is to find the right balance, to allow for a hierarchy and a beautiful tension in the space."

Peacock, White Gold wallpaper designed by Genevieve White Carter.
Peacock, White Gold wallpaper designed by Genevieve White Carter. (Genevieve White Carter)

To play off the shimmering silver walls, Furth stuck to a specific palette when it came to furnishing his Los Angeles living room. "There's lots of colorful artwork, but the furniture has mostly greenish-blue tones — teal, turquoise, peacock, navy, marine blue," he says. "There's also some charcoal and black, like the large black sisal rug, which really grounds the room."

While the very thought of covering the walls of a large room with heavy doses of metal may send some homeowners back to basic, boring white, it might help to start with a smaller project — one accent wall, for example, or brightening up a dark hallway.

If commitment's your problem, Tempaper makes self-adhesive wallpaper in a wide variety of metallic designs that's easy to apply and remove.

"Don't be afraid to explore the possibilities," urges Wearstler. "I find using a variety of metal in a room — hints of shimmer in wall covering, [but also] gunmetal accents on furniture, antique bronze and gold accessories — can create a symphony that's at once subtle and spectacular."