2023 Interior Design Trend
Wallpapers Big Comeback
Using wallpaper to make a statement in your apartment, condo or home is a fantastic low commitment option. For anyone interested in a little history, wallpaper was prevalent throughout the 70’s, started to go out of style in the 1980’s, but didn’t completely disappear until the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. If you’ve ever stripped old wallpaper, you’ll understand why the disappearance took some time to fully materialize; that would have been a task I would have definitely put off too! By the 2000’s, painted walls were officially the preferred look in the vast majority of homes. Around this time, minimalism was in, which meant that wallpaper – most people thought of it as busy and/or colorful patterns – was kicked to the curb. How sad! Fast forward to the 2020’s, and I’m thrilled to say that wallpaper is EVERYWHERE!
Why is it back in such a big way? Let’s go through some of the reasons: 1st off, there are 3 main types and 2 of them are pretty DIY friendly to install! We still have what’s considered traditional wallpaper – the method for hanging traditional wallpaper is to cut your strip to size, apply paste to the back of the paper, fold the paper in on itself so that the paste doesn’t dry out, wait a few minutes for the paper to “rest”, then apply to the wall. And, yes, it sounds high maintenance because it is! This method requires a work table (I end up working on the floor = not fun), and it’s really tough to fold the pasted paper when you have an irregular shaped piece that isn’t easy to fold over on itself. Another issue is the dilemma of how much paste to use – use too little, and your paper won’t fully adhere, (envision touching portions of the wall, and literally feeling air between the paper and the wall); use too much, and your paper could tear while you’re applying it, or you could end up with excess paste on the surface of the paper (which is definitely noticeable later). Ugh – this method requires a lot of precision, patience and skill, and honestly, is best left to the pros, imo!
Next, we get to “paste the wall” wallpaper. This is similar in feel to traditional wallpaper, but application is so much easier! You’ll just need to use a brush and paint roller to apply the paste just like you would apply paint to the wall. You’ll do this a section at a time, then apply your wallpaper strip, press and smooth. It is super easy to slide the wallpaper panel ever so slightly in order to line up edges, etc. as needed. This method is how all Milton and King papers are installed, and it truly is so easy! When I put up my stunning 26’ long Milton and King mural, it was the first time I had ever used paste the wall wallpaper, and it was so much cleaner and easier than the traditional method! I did the entire mural start to finish by myself in less than one day.
The third option for wallpaper today is peel and stick. This option is widely available (looking at you Amazon, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc.), so it’s a prime candidate for an impulse buy when you’re at the store and feeling very DIY’ey (is that a word?). Here’s the problem with peel and stick – a lot of it is VERY unforgiving, patterns don’t line up and the paper can stretch out of shape after repeated repositioning attempts. And, paper price and quality do NOT go hand in hand! I had a horrible time with a name brand, order-from-their-website product, and I was just trying to paper a very small area in the back of some bookshelves. I wanted to tear my hair out and it took forever to get it even remotely close to looking good! On the other hand, on one of those aforementioned impulse buy trips, I picked up some Scott Living peel and stick from my local Lowes. By far, the easiest peel and stick I’ve ever worked with! It was a dream! Easy to reposition, no ink smearing when smoothing (yep, that’s a thing too!), and easy to smooth to no bubbles whatsoever! Another downside of peel and stick is price! One of those rolls typically only covers a very small area, so look for sales! I don’t even want to tell you what it cost me to paper my fun laundry room! #worthit
The 2nd reason why wallpaper is attractive when you’re ready for a change is that, relatively speaking, it’s a cleaner and easier way to change up a room v. painting. And removal is infinitely easier than wallpaper from the 70’s. The 3rd reason is my favorite though – the incredibly wide breadth of options! I’m talking colors, and textures, and patterns, OH MY! There is something for everyone! From bold, bright and colorful prints to more traditional stripes or monochromatic designs, large scale prints, small scale prints and even textural basics like grasscloth and faux grasscloth (Charlotte, NC based furniture and design store, Society Social carries a fantastic peel and stick faux grasscloth that I used with much success in a beach house rental property I completed in Spring 2022).
Wallpapered ceilings – now referred to as the “fifth wall” are also popular, and for good reason. Gone are the days of ugly, boring, or dare-I-say POPCORN ceilings (shudder). It’s like the decision between having a bare wall or hanging art. Why wouldn’t you use it as a canvas for expressing yourself, adding dimension and a sense of completeness to a room? Although, I will put this up there in the “phone a professional” category as this is some intense work involving scaffolding, etc.. so approach with caution, or with your wallet ready to pay an installer! And, finally, I’ve even read that – you might want to sit down for this – wallpaper borders are back! Eek, I’m not sure about that one, but google it and you’re bound to see some examples of how borders are being used today, in new ways and to spectacular effect by cutting edge designers.
Bottom line – since this generation of wallpapers includes very neutral options, I’m officially declaring it a trend with teeth – and I’m definitely here for it! In fact, I have yet to do a project where we didn’t incorporate it somewhere! So get started with the new trend, because you will just love it!