Let's Talk About Wallpaper

Wallpaper. One word certain to raise eyebrows amongst your peer group whenever you mention it as a decorative option. Your level of taste will certainly be questioned, especially if you mention alternative ways of using it, like perhaps on the ceiling. Why does wallpaper freak so many people out? The English seem to have a jolly good time with it. And though I've never purchased a single copy of the UK version of Country Living magazine, I browsed their website yesterday and noticed wallpaper in nearly every image, further confirmation that they're still quite keen on it. Over on this side of the pond however, we're still having our issues. But why?


Whether on walls or ceilings, in bookcases or closets, the idea of wallpaper enchants, the reality overwhelms. Placement and pattern selection are often a nightmare because unlike paint, you're somewhat married to it once it's on the wall. Cost is also a concern. Most can't imagine this level of commitment, others are so bonkers over it that they really don't care. I'm stuck somewhere in between, I guess I'm part of that "wallpaper a single wall as an accent" cult. Though this trend has set the design world ablaze, I'm beginning to explore alternative creative uses for wallpaper. I'm not seeing a lot of papered ceilings (it's certainly not a trend) but the idea is appealing especially if the walls are painted a solid color and there's a spectacular light fixture taking center stage. Another idea is to paint the walls pure white adding a graphical wallpaper to that "fifth wall" (here I go sounding all HGTV).


Or what about dormers? I really like the look of papering them. I suggest painting all the walls in a room a solid color and then applying wallpaper only to dormer walls. Most aren't big on them because they cut into precious floor space, you bump your head, installing art is a pain, but since knocking them down is seldom an option then highlighting dormers can be a creative solution.

When it comes to papered walls and fancy ceilings, whether it's a ceiling medallion (view resources here), hand painted murals, tin, or just about anything else, I have my southern upbringing to blame and all of the South Carolina plantations we toured in school. Enamored with all of the fabulous details as a child, I'm not surprised that these things still entice me. But times have changed and people are no longer investing as much time and money into their homes on things that they can't use as a future selling point. The economy and sheer desire to explore has created a transient nation. When you're always on the go you tend to think in terms of granite counters and wood flooring as a better long term investment over wallpaper since it's definitely not an easy sell. As for renters, short-term ideas for decorating will forever be the rage. Few want to invest money and energy on wallpaper when they plan to ultimately move out anyway - you can't take wallpaper with you. Considering all of this, wallpaper tempts but ultimately loses out to paint. I wonder, will things ever change?

Cole + Son Malabar wallpaper available at Walnut Wallpaper.

What do you think of wallpaper? Have you tried it in your home? If so, where? Thoughts?

(top two images from country living, bottom image from walnut wallpaper)