chasing paper wallpaper

Though there was a time when wallpaper had been pushed aside in favor of a more neutral look, there’s no denying that it’s making a comeback—and having a major moment. “Wallpaper has been trending for a few years,” says Lorraine Lang, vice president of product at Scalamandré, which has a showroom in Stamford, CT. “Its popularity has grown as a decorative counterbalance to the plain and textural fabrics that have been the mainstay of décor. It adds the ‘wow’ to a room.” Today, wall coverings hold strong appeal for decorators and consumers alike—and there’s lots to consider before putting paper to wall.

Where to use it

“Wallpaper can enhance any room in a home, giving the space beauty and depth,” says Elizabeth Reda, who is part of the design team at Ring’s End in Darien, CT. Aimee Lagos, co-owner of Hygge & West, which offers wallpaper, among other home products, echoes that sentiment: “Wallpaper is the perfect way to add fun and interest to any room. We do love the surprise pattern adds in small spaces, behind closed doors like in powder rooms, closets, laundry rooms and small spaces,” she says. But that doesn’t mean bigger spaces aren’t a great choice, too: “Larger rooms like bedrooms or dining rooms are also a wonderful place for pattern. We see a lot of people doing accent walls, which almost substitutes as an art focal piece,” Lagos says. And you don’t have to stick with usual placements, either. Offerings like the Antique Chalkboard wallpaper from Ethan Allen, which can be drawn on, can be used in traditional places like a playroom or kitchen—or somewhere entirely different.

Our Wallpaper Picks

What style to use

Once you’re ready to pick, there are a slew of great trends to try. Some to consider: geometrics, stripes, photographic (like those offered by Gray Malin), peel-and-stick (which is popular among renters), textured designs and even scratch and sniff. Fifteen years ago, Jon Sherman rescued a defunct print studio in Brooklyn, NY, and reimagined it as cutting-edge wallpaper company, Flavor Paper. Probably his most impressive feat to date is the development of a wall covering line that smells exactly how it looks. Designed with Michael Angelo of Wonderland Beauty Parlor fame, the Willy Wonkaesque creations are scratch and sniff—just like your favorite stickers from childhood. Another popular option? Brushstroke and painterly designs: “Ombrés have been our bestsellers. The paint strokes and pencil marks feel human. They add warmth to a space,” says Brett Beldock of Brett Design, who has introduced wallpapers such as the Ethereal Wash and Sea Stroke Mural to her collection based on the success of the company’s ombré wallpaper.

Pro tips:

Should you DIY or call a professional? “Wallpaper is DIYable, but it does take patience, time and energy. So, it really boils down to how much time you want to spend on the project as well as what your budget will allow. We’d recommend novice DIYers start with a small wall (with minimal objects to trim around) and see how that goes,” says Aimee Lagos of Hygge & West. If you are going to DIY, Elizabeth Reda from Ring’s End also recommends starting with a small space (like the back of a bookcase) and ordering extra. “But as for hanging in your dining room or on a ceiling, I would leave it to the pros!” she advises.