Wake Up Your Rooms With Wallpaper

Better-than-ever styles, colors, and textures bring wonderful flair to any room. Try our tips and easy-to-imitate ideas.
Sara Anderson

One thing that makes a Southern home special: We love color and pattern. We cherish our touches of toile and the floral bed skirts that echo our striped draperies. We mix plaids with paisleys and paint hand-me-down furniture bright orange or green. That's why it's time to revisit wallpaper. If you don't want it covering every square inch of space in a room, then let it dress up your home in small doses. Take your pick of these projects, and get on a roll with fresh looks with wallpaper. Yep, wallpaper.

Quick Lessons in Hanging Wallpaper
We can't tell a lie: Hanging wallpaper can be difficult, so this is the time to hire help. If you want to hang it yourself, try papering one focal wall (without windows or doors). Cover the wall behind a sofa in your living room or behind the sideboard in your dining room. Keep in mind that it's harder to paper tight spaces.

To find someone to hang wallpaper for you, ask local wallpaper stores for referrals. FYI: Most installers charge by the roll, not the hour. You'll need to know the height of your ceilings, the dimensions of your room (or wall), and how many openings (windows and doors) are in the space. With this info, your installer can tell you how many rolls you'll need.

Check to see if the paper you want is prepasted and pretrimmed. Some may need to be trimmed and hung with special adhesive.

It's Not Just for Walls
Take advantage of a wallpaper's rich hues and appealing pattern without papering an entire room.

  • Paper behind bookshelves. On built-ins or freestanding pieces, paste wallpaper to shelf backs. Paint shelves a color that you pull from the paper.
  • Cover a ceiling. A papered ceiling can give a room a whole new look. In rooms with tall ceilings, this will make the space feel cozier.
  • Create a wallpaper headboard. Outline a square of wall behind your bed with chair railing or other decorative trim. Wallpaper inside the trim, and then push the head of your bed flush against the wall so the paper looks like the bed's headboard.
  • Frame it. Frame colorful pieces of wallpaper, and then hang them in a grouping on a wall. This is a great way to add bold pattern to a room.

Our Favorite New Papers
Bold Patterns
Try them: In dining rooms or foyers

  • Rudolpho Rings in red from En Vogue by Gramercy
  • Bella in blue from the Palladio collection by Thibaut

Naturals
Try them: In a powder or family room

  • Linshan Rushcloth in olive haze from Naturals II by Gramercy
  • Montague grasscloth in bud (ginkgo leaf) from www.shoptwenty2.com

Easy To Remove
Try them: In breakfast rooms or halls

  • Orange/peach twig pattern
  • Yellow stripes in cream/off-white Both by Eisenhart Wallcoverings Co. from www.swdecorating.com

Pick the Right Pattern

  • If choosing a wallpaper from a pattern book, order a sample cutting first. Tape the paper to your wall and live with it for a while. Do the colors go with what you have in the room? Will you need to repaint first? (Always paint trimwork and ceiling first, and then hang paper.) Hint: If you have short ceilings, choose a vertical pattern to visually enlarge the space.
  • Many Web sites let you browse hundreds of patterns online and order samples. Check out www.creativewallcovering.com, www.swdecorating.com, and www.seabrookwallcoverings.com. 

"Wake Up Your Rooms With Wallpaper" is from the February 2006 issue of Southern Living.