Welcome Back, Wallpaper

By Lesley Myrick

These Ain’t Your Mother’s Papers

I‘ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a good trend. Some people might shy away from trends, preferring to stick with so-called classics for the sake of longevity. But where’s the fun in that? The fact that they don’t stick around forever is precisely what makes trends so great. You have just a brief moment to play and explore, and by the time you’re bored of it — well, look at that, the trend is gone, and it’s time for something new.

My most recent obsession has been sweeping the interior design world over the past few years. I’m sure even those of you who don’t actively pay attention to design blogs or magazines have seen it around: walls covered in everything from bright floral prints to concrete textures, from subtle geometric patterns to metallic gold paisleys. That’s right. Wallpaper is back, and I am all about it.

The thing about trends, whether in interior design or fashion, is that they tend to come and go like waves. They rise up, crash against the shore and get swept back out only to reappear again a short while later. The last big moment for wallpaper was in the ’70s, so it’s high time for a comeback.

But don’t let blurry memories of your great-aunt’s sitting room fool you. The wallpaper of today is nothing like it was in yesteryear, and I would argue that it is here for the long haul. The ubiquitous sponge-painted walls of the ’90s bred a generation of homeowners willing to try trends and itching for more, and modern technology is here to bring it. Goodbye, grandma prints. Hello, super pigmented, three-dimensional, laser-sharp designs. There are countless options that range from those big, bold palm leaf designs I am sure you’ve seen everywhere online to prints that aren’t even prints at all but raised 3D designs.

There are a million and one possibilities when it comes to printed designs, but the best way to take advantage of the versatility of modern wallpaper is by paying less attention to prints and instead focusing on unique textures. There are wallpapers made from or mimicking almost every material you can think of. Raised tile wallpapers can give you the backsplash of your dreams. Wallpaper made from woven grass can transform your living room into a beachside bungalow. Textured wallpapers offer fantastic options for those who want a little more subtlety without having to forfeit individuality.

My favorite thing about modern wallpaper, though, is that new adhesive technology means that it’s easy to install and remove. While more permanent papers are still very available, there are a growing number of peel-and-stick options, which takes the versatility of wallpaper and bumps it up, like, a million notches.

Removable wallpapers aren’t only good for renters, they are also great in any situation where color, pattern and durability are desired. Maybe you want to try a trendy design but don’t want to be trapped with it for wallpaper’s full, decade-long lifetime. Maybe you own a storefront and need to change up the decor on a fairly regular basis. Or maybe you just want to save your future self the hassle of removing it down the line. Removable wallpaper is my secret weapon.

There’s really no comparison when it comes to wallpaper versus paint. Not only does wallpaper offer more choices, character and drama, but once it’s up and running, it takes a whole lot less to maintain. Quality wallpaper can last 10 years or more without needing a single touch-up. Plus, vinyl options are extremely easy to wipe clean. (Hello, greasy kid fingers!)

Now I know my overwhelming enthusiasm makes it sound like I could be a professional wallpaper salesperson, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. The key to wallpaper is restraint.

Think about it: walking into a room covered in basketball-sized jaguars might be overwhelming, but a single wall of it? That’s art. Using big, bold wallpaper as an accent can completely transform a room to reflect your personal style without needing the space a statement couch or centerpiece might require.

But I get it, accent walls can be so overdone. Luckily, wallpaper isn’t limited to just walls anymore. Think about what it could do for a plain piece of furniture, an old countertop or even certain appliances. You could apply wallpaper to a refrigerator door to create a striking — and wipeable — focal point in an otherwise neutral kitchen.

The possibilities when it comes to wallpaper are already endless, and as the number of different prints, materials and adhesives only continues to grow, so does the opportunity for different applications. I haven’t been this excited about a trend in a while, and I don’t see myself getting bored anytime in the near future. So, here’s to hoping that wallpaper isn’t just a trend and that it is here to stay. I will be leading the charge for sure.