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Object de Jour: Wallpaper

For some, wallpaper conjures memories of their grandmothers. For designers, wallpaper continues to be one of the quickest ways to transform a space. Throughout the years, it has fallen in and out of favor, but now it’s the object de jour. Papering walls began around 200 B.C. when the Chinese glued rice paper to their walls for decoration. Throughout China, and later in Europe around the 12th century, wallpaper gained in style and favor.

Floral Print Wallpaper by: Surface Views

Subtle colors add texture and interest to an otherwise boring wall.

In 1675, French engraver Jean-Michel Papillion created block designs in continuous patterns and became known as the inventor of modern-day wallpaper. Wallpaper has grown immensely in popularity with its range of styles, prints and materials to choose from. Both 2009 and 2010 saw bold-print wallpaper as the ongoing trend. This year there has been a move toward more subdued prints and tone-on-tone colors.

Wallpaper found here

Metallic wallpapers have become hugely popular, giving a sophisticated sheen to walls and creating visual interest, especially when done in tone-on-tone colors. Everything from warm bronzes to icy silvers grab attention and create a sophisticated space for entertaining and relaxing. Natural textured wallpapers such as sea grass are top choices for office settings and bedrooms. Coming in monochromatic colors as well as multicolored hues, they add dimension and texture.

Stripes have also gained in popularity, and when hung vertically can make a ceiling appear higher. Pairing the right-colored ceiling with a striped wallpaper can create a sophisticated dining room. Now the hard part – determining which walls to paper. Current trends lean toward fewer accent walls and more fully papered spaces. “People are finally moving away from just a feature wall and are once again wallpapering two, three and four walls in a room,” says David Klaus of the wallpaper company Graham & Brown. If you do choose to create an accent wall of paper, pick the wall that grabs your attention when you enter the room. To complete the look try matching the paint on the remaining walls to one of the background colors of the chosen wallpaper. This will provide symmetry and harmony.

If budget is not a concern, wallpapering the entire room will give the most dramatic and impactful statement. Just as the current styles of wallpaper vary, pricing can also range drastically. Sold by the roll, prices can range from $35 to well over $600, with an average around $120 per roll. Typically an average-size master bedroom will need about eight rolls of wallpaper, whereas an accent wall generally may need only two. An easy estimation for wallpapering a bedroom including installation is typically $1000 to $2000 based on an average-price wallpaper.

Costly as it may seem to those of us familiar with paint and its prices, wallpaper is hard to beat when it comes to the impact it brings to any room. Simply stated, wallpaper is the single most dramatic way to re-create a room. Considering the range of materials, colors, styles and walls to possibly adorn in wallpaper, it is almost impossible to not be open to the options available.

Sabina Vavra is an interior designer and creator of Creative Power Course, an educational program for emerging design professionals. She is also the designer behind two episodes of this season’s “Fix This Kitchen,” featured on A&E as well as former co-star of A&E’s “Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design.” Based out of California she can be reached at or 949-228-1555

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