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August 23rd, 2019 
Susan-Jane Frank
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Durham Region
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Wallpaper can pack a punch at low cost

Interior designer Mallory Mathison sees it all the time: Clients hear the word "wallpaper" and cringe, fearing it will Wallpapermake their home look dated and boring.  Everything changes when they see the finished product.

"You really don't know how much of a difference wallpaper can make to a room when you're looking at a sample," Mathison says. "When the wallpaper goes up, they're always like, 'Oh my gosh, I love it.' It makes the room more intimate, more special. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money."

After two decades on the uncool list, wallpaper has made a comeback, says designer Brian Patrick Flynn. There's a huge range of rich textures and striking patterns on the market today that can bring glamour to a room - something that's hard to accomplish with paint alone. 


Use wallpaper sparingly and strategically, advises designer Janine Carendi. Bold graphic prints or warmly textured papers are great on a single wall, she says, perhaps in your home's entryway. Papering just one wall - the wall behind your bed, for example - creates a striking focal point without the cost of covering an entire room.  This approach leaves you free to use a pattern that might be overkill if used on all four walls.  

Dining rooms are also great places to install a chair rail and paper only the portion of the wall above or below the rail.  The wallpaper borders of the 1980s are no longer in vogue. But in rooms with moulding located about 60 centimetres below the ceiling, wallpaper works well.


Geometric prints and large-scale patterns are popular right now, as are textured wall coverings.  "Lattice prints are huge," Mathison says, "like the Palm-Beach-in-the-60s, chic kind of look. It can be made to look really modern but have a classic basis."  Bold prints like these work well in tiny spaces, such as powder rooms.

Grasscloth, another item people may consider a relic from the 80s, is getting attention again. On the ABC television series Brothers and Sisters, the main floor of the family's sprawling California home is done in grasscloth. "There's been so much buzz about that," Mathison says, from viewers who want to replicate the look.

Grasscloth is great for making formal living rooms feel warmer and more casual, or for adding a fresh look in a home that's otherwise dominated by paint.

Carendi likes using temporary wall coverings, like wall decals (Blik is her favourite brand) and wall tiles made of recycled leather. They're affordable, great for a single wall or to create a headboard and are easy to glue on.


These designers are huge fans of DIY projects. But all of them advise getting the experts involved in anything but the smallest wallpapering project.

Mistakes made with paint can usually be fixed with a bit more paint. But with wallpaper, errors are costly - you'll probably have to replace all the paper you've hung incorrectly. (It can also "wreak havoc on your hair and nails," says Mathison.)

As with any home improvement project, it's best to get several estimates. Rates can vary widely depending on the paper hanger's expertise and where you live.

If it's too steep and you want to attempt papering on your own, look for classes at home improvement stores. Or, says Flynn, hire an expert to do a small papering job in your home and learn as much as you can from them. 

One last bit of advice from Flynn: Don't be afraid to do something bold, but avoid designs that are super-trendy. If you're creating something striking, you want to be sure you'll love it five years from now.

Source: December 3, 2008, Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press

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