1. Why has wall paper been out of fashion for the last two decades? Why has it suddenly re-emerged as a popular decorating tool?
Wallpaper has been out of fashion due to the minimalist movement that began in the ‘90′s. After the economic crash of the late ‘80′s, both the interior design and fashion industries responded with pared down, simple looks with clean lines – free of excess, adornment, and embellishment. As the “Starchitects” of the ‘90′s ventured into interior design, the emphasis shifted to architectural features, textural surfaces and linear patters. Now that modern minimalism is mainstream, I think there is a desire to incorporate color, pattern and personality into our interiors. With so much white around, people are craving color, excitement, and personal expression in their individual environments.
The resurgence was also spurred on by the growing popularity of Mid-Century Modernism and the Hollywood Regency styles, which re-introduced classic ‘50′s and ‘60′s wallpaper patterns. This gave a new credibility to wallpaper – affording it a new image as a cutting edge, sophisticated medium, rather than a kitschy middle-class embellishment.
2. What are some of the textures of current wallpaper? How about colors?
The hottest wall papers now have more pattern and color than texture and form. From graphic, colorful patterns, to modern florals, the new wall papers add whimsy, interest and depth. Timorous Beasties‘ ink-blot-esque patterns use modern motifs on traditional media to create eerily beautiful and intricate patterns.
Osborne and Little, the matriarch of the wall paper industry, continues to master traditional English patterning, but boasts a modern range of colorways and finishes.
Bright, cheerful colors like pink and orange,
jewel tones, and metallics
are particularly popular now.
We’re also seeing the use of silhouettes like this dog pattern from Osborne and Little,
this horse pattern
and this Osborne and Little Pattern.
Geometrics remain important, fueled by the popularity of Hollywood Regency, such as Greek Key motifs and trellis patterns like
F Schumacher’s Modern Trellis” shown here in charcoal metallic.
Due to its hand-crafted nature, we’re also seeing a resurgence of the famous chinoiserie prints once popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. DeGournay‘s once out of fashion, hand painted motifs, have now again emerged as status symbols amongst an elite crowd of dedicated followers.
3. How can wall paper be used to decorate a room besides papering all four walls?
My theory with wallpaper is, “If you’re going to go for it, go all the way!” We use wallpaper on ceilings, as wall panels, or as an accent wall that makes the room come alive. Wallpaper can set the stage, or be the stage, depending on the color and pattern choices you use, and the furniture, accessories, and additional items you have in the room. Missing artwork for a room? Cover the walls in the right paper, and there’s no need to add anything else.
One of our new favorites, Trove have designed their patterns to work as a wall composition, rather than just as a horizontal and vertical repeat which continues on in runs.
As seen in their “alula” pattern (shown), the bottom of the run is blank were you would place furnishings, etc. while the top part of the run has the pattern. We used this pattern in a bathroom, where the patterning ran up and over the ceiling, and the bottom doesn’t compete with wall tile and fixtures. The design surrounds you as if you were swimming in a sea of anemones, and is quite dramatic, but not overpowering.
4. Are there specific types of prints and patterns that work better in certain spaces than others?
There are really no limits to what you can do with wallpaper and where you can use it. However, since you’re making quite a commitment to certain pattern and color, we typically use wallpaper to highlight smaller spaces, such as Bathrooms, Kitchens, and Entry Halls. These are spaces which require less furniture, and can rely on the wallpaper to really make the space. In larger spaces, such as Living and Dining Rooms, we’ll use paper as an accent behind a sofa to add depth and color to the room, complimenting the furniture and accessories. In Bedrooms, we use wallpaper in lieu of a headboard, or across the bed so there’s something soothing and colorful to see before you go to sleep or as soon as you wake up.
In commercial spaces, we use wallpaper as a design element to help bring down the scale of wide expansive areas, and to incorporate a company’s colors or reflect a corporate image as we did in our Lounge Design for Jet Airways. We used four different colorways of Flavor Paper’s “cycloid” pattern to incorporate the Airline’s corporate colors in a bright and interesting way.
5. Is it as difficult to apply as old wall paper used to be? Should you get a professional to hang it?
Our rule of thumb is to ALWAYS have professionals hang your wallpaper. However, if your wallpaper has a simple pattern with a small repeat, it’s easy to hang yourself. Some less expensive papers come pre-pasted and are also easier to hang. Higher end, hand painted papers should always be hung professionally.
Vinyl is more difficult to hang than paper. By now hopefully everyone knows about vinyl’s negative impact on the environment and stays away from using vinyl at all. If you need more durability there are plenty of non-toxic, environmentally friendly products out there which are suitable for even heavy commercial use. Commercial manufactures such as Vycon, with their “Eco-View” products, are creating lines which have the performance characteristics of vinyl, without the environmental hazards.
One super-easy way to REMOVE old wallpaper is to put Downy fabric softener in a spray bottle mixed with a bit of water. Saturate the wallpaper with fabric softener and it comes right off the walls with almost no effort at all!