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Americans have had a love-hate relationship with decorative wallpaper over the last century. 30 years ago, nearly every wall in an upscale, tasteful home was covered in some style of wallpaper. Then the pendulum swung completely away from that notion. Wallpaper installers by trade became painters or handymen just to keep the doors open. There was virtually no call for wallpaper, unless it was to have it removed.

Happily, the pendulum has swung back a bit, but with a new, more hip and modern flavor. This new style is now being referred to as designer wallpaper. Of course, all the old styles are also still available – cabbage roses, grasscloth, stripes, mini-prints and so forth. But now, for the discerning users we have extraordinary surfaces. Examples of these include Mother of Pearl wall tiles, true metallics (wall tiles) and faux/painted metallics (rolls), glass beads, custom murals, silks, kraftpaper, hand-stencils, vinyl patents – you name it.

These kinds of beautifully textured and colored wall-coverings are a simple way to create a jewel of a powder room or a jaw-dropping dining room.

I Call These New Styles “Wall-Coverings” Instead of “Wallpaper”.

Most of the designer “wallpaper” ideas listed below are not possible with simply a paint brush and faux finish recipe.

The cost of wall-covering may be more than a faux finish paint job, but there are often savings that aren’t immediately accounted for. For instance, say the bathroom of your 1960’s mid-century modern home already sports a loud brown, green and orange metallic wallpaper. As hard as that might be to part with, you decide to make a change. If you paint, you are often in the position of stripping off the old paper. Then of course, you have to patch any damage to the old walls and bring someone in to texture the walls. This kind of prep can cut into your budget quite a bit. A high-quality, fabric-backed vinyl wall-covering can usually be purchased and applied directly over the old stuff – no muss, no fuss. Problem solved in a day and the results can be quite dramatic.

Wall-coverings are sold in several different increments. These increments include panels (wall tiles, murals, etc.), 27”wide rolled goods (usually approx. 30 s.f. per roll) and 54” wide sold by the yard. Have a salesperson or other professional help you calculate the amount you need for your project if you plan on doing it yourself.

Maya Romanoff “installation art”, Van Luit, Patty Madden, Versa, X-Quest and Metro are good resources for some of these more modern wall-covering choices. Stroheim & Romann, Brunschwig & Fils and Schumacher carry beautiful patterns and textures of the more traditional variety.

So, as I like to say, go for it and, above all, have fun!