Everything You Need To Know About the Wallpaper Revival—And Why We're Its Biggest Fans

We’re peeling back the layers of this hot design trend.

Coastal Bedroom with Tropical Wallpaper
Photo: Brie Williams; Styling: Page Mullins

On the hunt for the latest, great interiors trend? The writing is quite literally on the wall. After a cycle of accent elements, murals, and pared-back neutral paints, the design world is fully embracing wallpaper again. But, despite having major prominence during the Victoria era—and a comeback in the 1960s and 1970s—today's take on the trend looks a bit different. (Don't believe us? A simple scroll through your social media feed or a home tour will prove that wallpaper is everywhere—from a set of walls, to a charming built-in, to the ceiling.)

So, what's the deal with the wallpaper trend? Why is it having a moment right now? Is it here to stay? And, most importantly, how can you incorporate this rising fad into your own space? Below, two interior designers are sharing everything you need to know about the wallpaper revival.

The Appeal of Wallpaper Over Time

Photo by Megan Easterday

Once upon a time—or back in the 1920s—wallpaper was considered the ultimate status symbol. Not only did this special feature offer an extra layer of insulation, but it also deftly masked any imperfection.

"All the excess of the Victorian era brought with it the notion of beautifying our walls and gave way to more ornate millwork and decor, and wallpaper was one of those things that had a big impact on those who could afford to paper their walls," explains Joy Williams, an interior designer who splits time in Atlanta and Chicago. "Those who could least afford the fancy stuff or paint would also use newspapers."

Though times have changed and many decades have passed, Williams believes the reignited interest in wallpaper can be traced back to the same regal reasons as before—not to mention it's a breath of fresh air from yesteryear's pops of color and eye-catching millwork.

"I think people love wallpaper for the very reason [that] they loved the accent wall," she adds. "It's an opportunity to make your home unique to you and your personality, and it feels like a treat for the home and homeowner."

For Houston-based designer Mary Patton, the resurgence of repeats isn't an isolated trend; but a symptom of a larger vibe shift. "The trend toward minimalism is waning and the use of color and texture in design is on the rise," she says. "Wallpaper is one way to achieve this look, as it can transform almost any space."

What Styles Are Trending Now

Photo by Molly Culver

A great repeat is an easy and effective way to add a pattern or texture to a room, but which styles are big in 2022? Well, it depends on who you ask. Though Patton notes that nature-centric patterns are trending—a few favorites include florals, botanicals, and Chinoiserie—Williams is partial to textured options.

"Grass cloth, raffia, jute, and plaster styles are having a moment," she explains. "These are some of the most intimidating, costly, and time-consuming wall applications. Since they are now being offered in wallpapers—commercial-rated ones, at that—more people are apt to use them or at least give them a try because of less upkeep and time and money commitment."

Whether you favor a whimsical botanical or a tactile option, applying wallpaper to any surface can feel a tad permanent. But, thanks to the rise of peel-and-stick repeats, you can incorporate a new, of-the-moment pattern whenever you please.

"If [you] don't want a real commitment, [it's so easy to] DIY an accent wall, the inside of a bookcase, or the risers on steps," Williams notes. "Something small like this can really give them a good sense of the kind of je ne sais quoi a textured or graphic wall covering can add to their spaces."

How To Incorporate the Trend at Home

Photo by Molly Culver

Speaking of sprucing up a space, the best thing about the rising wallpaper trend is that it can look good in every room of the house. (Bedroom? Foyer? Laundry room? Check, check, and check.) And, as Williams points out, the sky's the limit.

"Using wallpaper on the fifth wall [or ceiling] is probably my favorite way to add a bit of the unexpected in a space," she adds. "I did it in an entryway a couple of years ago, and I still love that moment."

Want to embrace wallpaper for the very first time? Patton recommends starting small. "Consider using it in a smaller space—like a powder room—first to get your feet wet to the process," she shares. "Be sure to pay attention to the scale of the room as well as patterns already in the room when determining the scale of the pattern on the wallpaper." Trial and error plays a big role in finding the right pattern, so consider taping a few prints to your wall before making the big choice.

But, no matter which repeat you choose or where you decide to apply it, it's important to prep your walls first. (After all, very few things can cramp a room's style like a poorly applied wallcovering.) While filling in holes, sanding rough areas, and removing lighting are integral, Patton also stresses the use of lining your walls first.

"It ensures a smooth finish and reduces any imperfections coming through," she explains. "If you place light wallpaper over a dark wall without lining paper, you will surely regret the misstep."

Unless you're a wallpaper connoisseur, you might want to enlist a professional to take care of the process. Hiring an expert requires an extra fee, but it'll be well worth the investment.

"I don't see the use of wallpaper going away any time soon as we continue to find more ways to incorporate it into design," Patton notes. "It has always been a way to show your personality."

We couldn't agree more.

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