Paper Walls

Paper Walls

When some people think “wallpaper,” they have visions of their great-grandmother’s house, complete with its peeling, yellowed paper covered with garish pink carnation flowers or cheesy nautical themes. But wallpaper has been given a face-lift in recent years and both DIY-decorators and the pros are crowing about its charms.

“Today wallpaper designs are more hip – and people are more interested in new looks for their walls,” says Cyndi Seidler, an interior decorator based in Burbank, California, who adds that people these days are generally more design conscious because of all the home decor shows on cable. “It gives them ideas and motivation to do something different,” she says. “Shows and books are inspiring people to make changes to their rooms and wall spaces. They’re beginning to see that they can create a theme in a room, like making it vintage or medieval or country or beachy or rock 'n’ roll style or whatever.”

Achieving these looks gets a lot easier with the perfect print on your walls. Major wallpaper manufacturers are surprising consumers with patterns that look a lot more like they came off the set of MTV rather than “Leave It To Beaver” and the smaller, boutique stores are doing custom papers and limited edition wallpapers for clients, too.

Replacing big flower patterns with streamlined graphic design, the wallpapers of today fit with the design choices individuals are more likely to make. Wallpapers come in earth and jewel tones and boast patterns from nature (like bamboo prints and leopard stripes) and images from our digital age (like pixilated murals and geometric shapes.) Choosing wallpaper – even for one or two walls – adds instant texture and depth to a room that might look a little on the boring side with a plain old coat of paint.

Jessica Anne is a Chicago-based theatre professional and a big fan of wallpaper. Anne says a reaction to paint actually spurred her interest. “I don't really like paint – wet paint makes my throat close up,” Anne says, adding that she likes the feeling of order that wallpaper gives. “Wallpaper is just so crisp and straight.”

If you’re sold on the idea of wallpaper and have found plenty of designs that appeal to you, the only thing that might be standing in your way is the fear of actually doing the wallpapering.

“Nowadays, wallpaper has become easier to apply – anyone can do it, Seidler says. “You used to have to hire a professional to do it right. Now, you can watch a video or a TV show about it. There are also shelves full of decorating books in bookstores.” Seidler says that we’re living in an age of “do-it-yourself” and if a person can learn how to install hardwood floors (which she did successfully) wallpaper should be a snap.

The way Anne sees it, wallpaper gives her a chance to hang on to the joy she gets from fresh flowers. “The flowers in my garden never live past one week – but the flowers on my wall live, live, live.”

The next time you’re passing a home improvement, hardware, or home decor store, take a few minutes to peruse the books of wallpaper. If you’re surfing the Web, do a wallpaper search and prepare to be stunned at all the choices now available. You might find the perfect wallpaper for the recreation of that fabulous nautical theme your great-grandmother had going in her living room.


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