Wallpaper 101

From traditional and classic to bold and graphic, wallpaper is back in a big way. And there is no better way to add color, pattern, and texture to your walls all at once.

Cabinetry and countertop material dominate the kitchen and bathroom, typically covering between 50 and 60 percent of the perimeter space. With so little left for walls, how do you make an impact? Even in small doses wallpaper provides an enormous visual punch with pattern, color and texture.

In the 80’s and 90’s people put pattern everywhere. Then the trend became no pattern or color. Now we’re back to loving interest, detail and texture, but the patterns aren’t so busy. Today people are using wallpapers with softened metallics (not the foils of the 70’s), stripes, textures that resemble alligator, ostrich and snakeskins, natural fibers and tone-on-tones.

Wallpaper is more expensive than paint and involves choosing both color and pattern and texture. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

Choose your style. You don’t have to live in an old house for wallpapers to work, but, for best effect, choose a design that suits the scale of your home. For example, the small florals typical of the 1930’s can look lost in a high-ceilinged room, while heavily patterned prints can overwhelm a small or low-ceilinged space. Vertical stripes can help to visually extend the height of a room, while natural fibers, such as seagrass and rice papers, can add warmth and richness to a space.

First things first. Start by compiling a materials board, including photos from magazines that will inspire the room, colors you are considering, cabinetry, countertop and flooring samples along with and any other finishes you are considering. Once you established a mood and direction, picking the right wall covering gets easier.

Get samples. When you find a paper that you like, order a sample. A small cutting of the sample can then be used to integrate into your materials board. Tape larger samples to the wall space in your kitchen and view them at different times of the day and night and under different lighting conditions.

Consider durability. Wallpapers are typically printed on paper or vinyl or fabricated out of fabric or natural material that is backed with paper. For high traffic and heavily utilized areas, consider a vinyl wallpaper as this is the most durable and the easiest to clean. Utilize more delicate paper and fabric wallpapers in low traffic areas, such as in powder rooms, on ceilings and on feature walls.

Get creative. Remember that all walls don’t have to be completely covered with wallpaper; wallpapered walls can be used to compliment painted walls. Consider a wood or tile wainscoting with wallpaper above or painted walls with a wallpapered ceiling to add a color and texture that works in connection with the overall finishes in the space.

It’s not forever. It used to be easier to take out a wall than remove the old wallpaper. But today wallpaper is easy to apply and remove. So, if you select a wallpaper today and decide to give your space a facelift in a few years, it’s an easy fix. And, changing the wallpaper and paint in any space can make a huge transformation.

Use a professional. Since wallpaper is costlier than paint and can be very tricky to install. So I always recommend hiring a professional installer to tackle the job. To save money, homeowners can concentrate on the painted surfaces. In the end, you will be happy to leave the task of wallpapering to a professional who will do a perfect job.

Robert Frank is a local resident and owner of Robert Frank Interiors, a full-service interior design and construction company located in San Marino, California. Robert Frank Interiors works in collaboration with clients to create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect their lifestyles and personalities. Visit us on the web at www.robertfrankinteriors.com.