The Updated Way To Decorate With Wallpaper—That Won't Look a Bit Like Your Grandma's Place
Bring this storied design trend to the 21st century with these helpful tips.
Maybe it's the rise of the cottagecore trend or the onslaught of peel-and-stick repeats from brands like Tempaper and Chasing Paper, but one thing's for certain: Wallpaper is making a major comeback. After spending the past few years schlepping paint cans and applying fresh coats for an accent wall, a patterned room feels like a breath of fresh air. The only problem is that it's been a minute since we've used wallpaper—and we're a little rusty on the do's and don'ts. After all, there's a fine line between wallpaper that feels fresh and a repeat that harkens back to your grandma's living room. (No offense, Grandma!)
"We can always learn something from our shared past, but I can understand the perception that wallpaper was considered 'old-fashioned,'" says Melinda Marquardt, owner and designer of The Vale London. "Still, we are reinventing it for an entirely new and design-savvy generation with our design choices as well as the actual materials."
To help bridge the gap between old and new, Marquardt is sharing the new rules to decorating with wallpaper.
Want to take your wallpaper to new heights? Well, the only way to go is up.
"One of the most fun ways to update your interiors with a modern twist is to put wallpaper on the ceilings," Marquardt says.
According to the Britain-based designer, many of her clients love to use the Lion Toile on the ceiling because each colorway integrates a marble tile. (That way, it's like you can have a cool marbled ceiling with a little something extra.) If you're thinking about adding some wallpaper to your ceiling, pay close attention to the colors featured in the repeat. One of those hues can be an excellent color to paint the four walls below.
While a wallpapered ceiling would look good with neutral or color-coordinating walls, why not use this as an opportunity to embrace your bold side? Marquardt recommends pairing this fierce repeat with The Vale London's Marble Tile wallpaper.
"[It's] a fabulous way to add pattern and interest to the fifth wall," she adds. "It feels layered and intentional, but certainly not matchy-matchy."
Embrace Your Entryways
Or, if you want to keep your wallpaper use more grounded, use it to highlight your home's charming architectural details.
"One of the more distinctive pieces from the second collection is Pardus Toile, which symbolizes home and health protection, incorporating ancient animal deities," Marquardt says. "We have seen this wallcovering used to frame a doorway or a feature wall, which is a really creative way to connect back to the original artwork's intentions and results in a real showstopper!"
By positioning your wallpaper close to a door or built-ins, you're redefining the room's focal point and highlighting its very best features—all without upstaging the rest of the space. (Psst... this design tip can also work if you want to highlight an opulent bathroom mirror or flat-screen television.)
Pay Homage to Yesteryear
Admittedly, the world has changed a lot since wallpaper first broke out on the design scene. For example, we find decorating inspiration from teeny, tiny screens and value a home office more than we ever thought we would. While wallpaper can get a bad rap for feeling "outdated," Marquardt says yesteryear's trends have a lot to offer.
"My grandma had fabulous taste, so I think there's nothing wrong with a bit of influence from older generations," she says. "At The Vale London, many designs exemplify a modern twist on traditional inspirations, so I think it is really important to bring these influences into new collections."
To strike a happy medium between innovative and outdated, Marquardt recommends opting for traditional repeats with an updated edge.
"One of the best sellers is the Marble Tile 2, as customers love the modern twist on an ancient technique and all of the colours and designs throughout the collections," she says. "My newest collection, World's End, is brighter and bolder, partly as a response to creating happiness with color to offset the shadow that the pandemic cast on us and somewhat just feeling inspired by bright color."
And, if you really want to make a splash? Marquardt gives you permission to experiment with bold hues or patterns.
Enlist a Pro
It doesn't matter which repeat you choose, Marquardt says poor application separates well-appointed walls with those that have seen better days.
"DIY is a wonderful outlet for many creative endeavors, but certain things really need the professional touch—and wallpaper hanging is one of those," she says. "Wallpaper hanging is an art, and a trained and experienced installer will ensure that these highly stylized patterns line up perfectly and the seams are as minimal as possible."
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Peel-and-stick wallpaper is designed to be taken on and off your walls, therefore it is more forgiving and DIY-friendly. But, even if you go the DIY route, it's important to err on the side of caution. After all, this tiny project has the power to make or break your entire room. (No pressure!)