Wallpaper takes—to some—a fearful level of commitment. Ambling through home improvement stores and dry goods ateliers scanning aisles and “look books” for a potential match takes time. Not being sure you’ve found “the one” until you take it home where it must meet and complement your valet and throw pillows takes being vulnerable to a possible let down. Trysts with trendy colors, here-today-gone-tomorrow adhesives and aimless paint dabbling can be satisfying in the short term but, as mom says, “isn’t it time you think about settling?”
“While paint, which is available in an infinite number of color possibilities, is a very versatile wall covering, wallpaper comes in a staggering number of colors, patterns and textures,” says LuLu Belle’s Fabrics manager, Mary Beth Leritz, who explains that “settling” is no longer a pitfall of papering.
“Want wallpaper that looks like a wooden finish? No problem. How about a leather-like texture? Go ahead… From planked walls, concrete blocks to wood paneling, [wallpaper is] a dramatic way of ‘fooling the eye.’ Whether it’s an accent wall or papering an entire room, it adds character without the expense of installing the real thing,” Leritz explains. Furthermore, Leritz contends that the nuance and intricacy afforded by a stable, quality wallpaper can’t be imitated by paint, “no matter how skilled the painter.”
The resounding benefits of long-term durability and endless variety available to homeowners today is reassuring for those of us still nervous to take the plunge. It’s worth noting, however, that when it comes to wallpaper, size really does matter.
“I think some of the most successful installations of wallpaper are dark or large-scale patterns in a small room,” explains Teddy Karl of Clayton-based interior design firm, The Great Cover-Up. “I try to avoid very small-scale patterns in a large room because I feel like the end result can be monotonous.”
Karl and Leritz agree that no matter the size of the room, when in doubt, adding a texture like grasscloth or bold geometrics can make even the smallest of rooms feel grand. Per Leritz, “Geometrics can bring order into homes with simple clean patterns…For an unexpected twist add it to a ceiling.”
If, sitting in the breakfast nook some morning, one were to look across the table and be bored or displeased after many happy years with their wallpaper of choice, Karl and Leritz simply say, “change it.”
“The average shelf life of a wallpaper book is five to seven years,” Karl says. “That being said, most people live with a wallpaper much longer than that. I would guess most wallpaper will be up for at least eight to 10 years.” And when it’s overstayed its welcome, “if a wallpaper is applied well/properly with no signs of peeling, it is possible to wallpaper over it with the new paper.”
Cost-effective and long-lasting, effortlessly pleasing with the ability to add what Leritz describes as inimitable warmth and depth, wallpaper is a commitment to making your house a home. “The benefit far outweighs the consequence,” says Karl. “If you’re not afraid, go for it.”