If your last interaction with wallpaper was the unforgettably tacky, impossible to remove and overused versions that ran rampant in decor from the 50’s to the early 80’s, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with the concept. Gone are the days of the kitschy peach or ‘dusty rose’ papers that everyone’s mother and grandmother enveloped her (entire) home in - we’ve entered an era where wall coverings have become an ultra chic feature in decor.
While anyone who knows me knows I’m a strict advocate for all white walls, there is always a time and place for breaking even your own design rules. Wallpaper is one of my only exceptions to a completely whitewashed space - within this type of wall treatment, my design pendulum swings the opposite direction to bring a room alive. With wallpaper, it’s all about pattern, palette and texture.
Today’s wallpaper collections are as diverse as design itself. For prints and patterns, we have seen the introduction of highly realistic faux-finish wallpapers, with which you can recreate the effects of anything from agate (seen on the moody emerald feature wall of one of my clients) to wood to concrete. There has been a modern revival of florals, ranging in exaggerated scale from ultra tiny to completely oversized, like Roomcraft Design’s playful pink poppies, and has branched out to include other on trend plant life… think: the current obsession with palm leaves and cactus plants. And, we have seen a playful twist with graphic and typographic papers that offer high contrast shapes or lettering on repeat to create a striking effect, as with the Cole & Sons fuchsia geometric print .
Modern design has also seen great diversity in the colourways that are most popular with wallpaper - everything from super brights to moody saturated dark palettes to neutral tone-on-tone papers like the Cole & Sons white on white cubes have found their way into some of today’s most stylish spaces. It seems that while paint palettes tend to follow colour trends, everything and anything goes when it comes to papers. Texture has become another key element to today’s wall coverings; while the effortless glamour of grasscloth has maintained it’s place (as shown by Gillian Segal Design with their client’s stunning bathroom), we have also seen the rise of finishes like metal adornment, sandy texture and, my personal fave, vinyl wallpapers. Vinyls have found their fundamental place in design not just based on the visual effect of their texture, but moreover on the functionality the material offers. With a rubbery, resistant finish, vinyls are easily wipeable (ie: kid friendly) and are also moisture resistant, making them an ideal choice for kitchens or bathrooms, as seen in my last home with a pretty shibori-effect ribbed vinyl.
At an overall level, wallpaper has become the ‘built in’ artwork to design. It offers a creative foray into expression, colour and pattern combinations to suit any style personality and a broad spectrum variety that is likely to ensure individuality and exclusivity - unlike painting with ‘cloud white’, you’re almost guaranteed that you’ll be the only kid on the block with your chosen paper. With permanent and removable options on the market (making it viable for homeowners and renters alike), wallpaper has embraced it’s revival into modern design.