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The Return Of Wallpaper: How To Work It Without Overpowering Your Space

April 23, 2024

The Return Of Wallpaper: How To Work It Without Overpowering Your Space

The Comeback Heard ‘Round the Wallpaper World

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with wallpaper. Growing up, the floral and striped prints of the 80s and 90s felt so…dated. Like something straight out of my grandma’s living room. So when the minimalist, “less is more” design trend took over, I was all too happy to say goodbye to the stuff.

But you know what they say – everything old is new again. And in recent years, I’ve started to notice wallpaper making a serious comeback. Funky, modern patterns are popping up everywhere, from high-end design magazines to the feeds of my favorite interior design influencers. And I have to admit, I’m kind of digging it.

The thing is, wallpaper can be a tricky beast to tame. Use it the wrong way, and suddenly your space feels crowded, claustrophobic, and way too “busy”. But use it right, and it can totally transform a room, adding depth, personality, and a whole lot of visual interest.

So how do you walk that fine line? How do you make wallpaper work for you, without letting it completely take over? Well, my friends, that’s exactly what I’m here to explore. Get ready for a deep dive into the wonderful world of wallpaper – the good, the bad, and the downright stunning.

Wallpaper 101: A Brief History Lesson

Now, before we dive into the nitty gritty of how to use wallpaper, I think it’s important to take a quick step back and look at where it all started. After all, understanding the evolution of this design element can give us some important clues about how to wield it effectively today.

Wallpaper, as it turns out, has been around for centuries. The earliest known examples date back to 16th century China, where wealthy aristocrats would use intricate hand-painted screens to decorate their palace walls. From there, the tradition spread to Europe, where crafty artisans began creating elaborate, hand-printed wallpaper panels.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and wallpaper had become a hallmark of high-society opulence. Lavish, ornate patterns covered the walls of grand manor houses and royal palaces across the continent. It was a symbol of status, wealth, and refined taste.

But then something interesting happened – wallpaper started to trickle down to the masses. As mass production techniques improved in the 19th century, wallpaper became more affordable and accessible. Suddenly, even the middle class could get in on the decorative action.

Of course, with greater availability came a whole lot more…variety. Gone were the days of hand-painted elegance. Instead, wallpaper started to take on a more eclectic, sometimes kitschy aesthetic. Bright, busy patterns became the norm, and wallpaper started to feel a bit tired, outdated, and…well, grandma-ish.

Which brings us to the modern era. After a long period of wallpaper falling out of favor, we’re now seeing a resurgence of interest in this age-old design element. But this time, it’s got a fresh, contemporary twist. Wallpaper has shed its stuffy, old-fashioned reputation and embraced a whole new look – one that’s bold, quirky, and decidedly un-grandma-esque.

How to Wallpaper Without Drowning Your Space

Okay, so now that we’ve got a bit of historical context under our belts, let’s dive into the nitty gritty of how to actually use wallpaper in your home. Because as I mentioned before, it’s a tricky balance to strike.

The key, I’ve found, is all about moderation. Wallpaper has a tendency to be a very dominant design element – it can easily overwhelm a space if you’re not careful. So the secret is to use it strategically, as an accent or focal point, rather than plastering it on every single surface.

One of my favorite approaches is to dedicate a single accent wall to wallpaper, while keeping the rest of the room relatively simple and pared-back. This allows the wallpaper to really shine as the star of the show, without making the whole space feel cluttered or claustrophobic.

Another great option is to use wallpaper in small, contained areas – think powder rooms, entryways, or the backs of bookcases. These more intimate, enclosed spaces can handle a bolder, busier pattern without feeling overpowering.

And if you really want to go for it, you can always use wallpaper to cover just the ceiling. This creates a really unique, eye-catching effect that immediately draws the gaze upward. Plus, it’s a great way to add visual interest without monopolizing too much square footage.

The key, no matter where you choose to use it, is to pick a pattern that complements the overall aesthetic of the room. Busy, large-scale prints work best in spacious, airy rooms, while smaller-scale, more subtle designs are perfect for cozier, more intimate spaces.

You’ll also want to think carefully about color. Lighter, airier hues tend to make a space feel more open and expansive, while deeper, richer tones can feel a bit heavier and more enveloping. So consider your room’s existing palette and choose a wallpaper that will either harmonize with or intentionally contrast it.

Wallpaper Dos and Don’ts

Of course, simply using wallpaper is only half the battle. There’s also the matter of how you use it. And trust me, there are definitely some dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

On the “do” side of things, I’m a big fan of mixing patterns and textures. Wallpaper works beautifully when paired with other decorative elements, like throw pillows, artwork, or even the occasional built-in bookshelf. The key is to make sure everything coordinates in terms of color and overall aesthetic.

I also love the look of wallpaper paired with natural, organic materials like wood, rattan, or stone. There’s something so visually interesting about that juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural.

And speaking of natural materials – don’t be afraid to let them shine! Wallpaper can be a great way to accentuate architectural details, like exposed brick, ceiling beams, or beautiful window frames. Just make sure the wallpaper complements, rather than competes with, those elements.

Now, on the “don’ts”…the biggest one, in my opinion, is covering every single wall in a room with wallpaper. As I mentioned before, that’s a surefire way to make a space feel cramped, cluttered, and visually overwhelming. Even if you love the pattern, it’s important to give the eye a place to rest.

I’d also steer clear of anything too busy, busy, busy. Intricate, busy patterns can be fun in small doses, but they can quickly become tiresome and headache-inducing if used too liberally. Opt for a simpler, more streamlined design instead.

And lastly, be wary of wallpaper that’s too matchy-matchy with the rest of your decor. You want there to be a sense of intentional coordination, not a feeling that everything was purchased from the same catalog. Mix things up a bit to create visual interest and keep the space feeling fresh and unique.

Wallpaper Inspiration to Get You Started

Okay, now that we’ve covered the dos and don’ts, I want to share a few of my favorite real-life examples of wallpaper done right. Maybe they’ll inspire you to take the plunge and add a little wallpaper magic to your own home.

One of my all-time favorite wallpaper moments comes from a beautiful, light-filled family room. The homeowners opted for a subtle, muted floral print that felt simultaneously classic and contemporary. They used it to cover just one accent wall, keeping the rest of the space clean and simple with white walls, natural wood accents, and plush, neutral furnishings. The result is a room that’s cozy and inviting, with just the right amount of visual interest.

I also love the way wallpaper was used in this cozy little powder room. The homeowners went bold with a vibrant, abstract-inspired pattern that covers every inch of the walls. But because it’s contained in a small, intimate space, it feels playful and fun rather than overwhelming. The crisp white vanity and fixtures provide just the right amount of contrast, preventing the wallpaper from feeling too suffocating.

And then there’s this stunning bedroom, where the wallpaper takes center stage. The homeowners used a lush, tropical-inspired print to cover the entire room, from floor to ceiling. But they balanced it out with a neutral, pared-back color scheme and minimal, streamlined furnishings. The result is a serene, sanctuary-like space that still manages to feel vibrant and energetic.

So there you have it – proof that wallpaper, when used thoughtfully and strategically, can be a total game-changer in any space. Whether you want to make a bold statement or just add a touch of visual intrigue, this design element is definitely worth exploring.

Ready to Take the Wallpaper Plunge?

If all of this has inspired you to give wallpaper a try in your own home, I’ve got good news – the Pecan’s Home Decor team is here to help! We’ve got a wide selection of stunning, on-trend wallpaper options that are just begging to be the star of your next design project.

Plus, our expert design consultants are always on hand to provide personalized guidance and advice. We can help you choose the perfect pattern and placement to achieve the look you’re going for, without letting the wallpaper overwhelm your space.

So what are you waiting for? The wallpaper renaissance is in full swing, and I don’t want you to miss out. Head on over to Pecan’s Home Decor today and let’s get started on your next big design transformation. Your walls (and your guests) will thank you!

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