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 glamor to a room — something that's hard to accomplish with paint alone. Used wisely, Flynn says, wallpaper is a great tool for giving any room an affordable facelift. Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press
Small cost, big impact
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 on all four walls.
Another option that these designers love: Create some drama in a dining room or bedroom by papering only the ceiling. Dining rooms are also great places to install a chair rail and paper only the portion of the wall above or below the rail.
What works, and where
Geometric prints and large-scale patterns are popular right now, as are textured wall coverings. "Lattice prints are huge," interior designer Mallory 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. 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 favorite brand) and wall tiles made of recycled leather. They're affordable (about $7 per square foot, she says, great for a single wall or to create a headboard) and are easy to glue on.
Should you do it yourself?
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.
As with any home improvement project, it's best to get several estimates. Mathison says it's likely you'll be quoted a fee between $25 and $75 per roll, though rates can vary widely depending on the paper hanger's expertise and where you live.
If that'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.