Home Hacks

Why Wallpaper is Totally Worth It, and 5 Fresh Ways to Do It Yourself

June 27, 2017

Wallpaper is en vogue these days, so we partnered with Farrow & Ball, purveyors of high-quality, hand-carved wallpaper, to share tips on how to incorporate the classic wall covering into a 21st century home.

Wallpaper might seem like paint’s tricky cousin: it’s a bit messier, a bit more involved, and if you’re not a fan of the end result...then what? But we’re here to argue that wallpaper, for all that it requires—patience, perseverance, and an eye for precision—is totally worth it. (Yes, even for renters!) And if you can’t fathom tackling that yourself, there’s always TaskRabbit.

But where do you even begin? We’ve got some ideas.

Bold prints don't have to be scary—use them in doses (like these whimsical, textural ones from Farrow & Ball that match their paint colors). Photo by Alpha Smoot

Play with Scale

Bold wallpaper can make a big impact in a small space. (See: any of the umpteen bathrooms making the most of a banana leaf print all over Pinterest.) Get the look with a large-scale pattern, applied with gusto in tight quarters—a vanity mirror in the WC will help amplify the paper’s appeal and make great fodder for selfies.

Display Like Art

If you’re tempted by the look of a certain paper, but are wary (or financially incapable) of springing for it, try framing the style you like and putting it on display. (You can also do this with wrapping papers!) If you end up a fan of the effect, get creative with placement—covering an Ikea table, for instance, is a great way for renters to incorporate pattern into a small space. "Even a small amount of pattern on your walls can make a large visual impact," says Charlotte Cosby, Head Creative for Farrow & Ball.

Keep It Classic

Harken back to a grander era with an elaborate pattern creeping up the walls of your dining room. Avoid things feeling too old-fashioned by juxtaposing modern art and decor against it. If you’re not in a suburban home or are otherwise short on square footage, the same look can be achieved by papering an accent wall that delineates one room from the other.

Go Beyond Minimal

While minimalism would seem to dictate a strict palette of white on white on ecru, you can deviate from the status quo by embracing a small-scale pattern with a varied repeat for an organic modern look. Because the effect will be so subtle, you can use these kinds of papers in large spaces and open-plan living areas; it’s a great way to make lofty spaces feel more intimate.

Make It Two-Toned

Paper half of a wall to mimic or offset architectural detailing; opt for the same print in light and dark colorways for a more dynamic effect. Take a decorating cue from the fashion world and try on horizontal stripes for size, or opt for papers with a more geometric repeat to add dimension. Don’t feel you need to follow a formula—go with what your gut tells you!

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What about you? What are your favorite ways to use wallpaper? Tell us in the comments below.

Give life to the nooks and crannies of your house—with wallpaper! We partnered with Farrow & Ball, makers of high quality, hand-carved wallpaper (more than 20 people touch a single roll!), to share inspiration for how to do just that. See all of their 350 wallpaper prints here.

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Sean is a Brooklyn-based writer, photographer and kale apologist who advocates for drinking at lunch. An avid traveler, he is always on the hunt for good coffee and better bread.