On the Surface

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Study in 503 Found owner Kim Rodosky's home_ credit to Ryan Garvin

The revival of wallpaper livens up everyday spaces.

Section by Somer Tejwani


Once a go-to design element in American homes, wallpaper eventually faded from fashionable to passe before recently rising in popularity again. “Everything comes back around,” says Laguna Beach interior designer Tania Cassill. “We need the texture and expression of a wallpapered space to bring us out of our monochromatic homes. When the economy was bleak, we trended to very minimal and neutral spaces. These are beautiful; however, now we need some pattern and color.”

Today, fresh patterns and materials are emerging on the market, helping to inject rooms with bold style and energy. Wallpaper options are much more chic with capsule collections from fashion designers, new textures like subtle grass cloth and punchy patterns. But before ditching the paint altogether, it’s important to find a wallpaper design that will complement the space and the personality of your home.

Tania, who recently launched a home goods store called huit on Glenneyre Street, doesn’t just talk about the trend; she lives it—even her laundry room is wallpapered—and has plenty of advice for getting the most out of this decorating tool. She suggests incorporating wallpaper in smaller areas such as a powder room, kitchen or behind open shelving. “I like the wallpaper to have impact, but not consume the space,” Tania says.

Garden City wallpaper at 503 Found_credit to Ryan Garvin
Garden City wallpaper in Bustle by MissPrint, $75 per roll, at 503 Found, Newport Beach (949-877-0147; 503found.com)

Keep in mind that a tiny room’s limited wall space or lots of cabinetry might not allow for a large-scale pattern to repeat more than once. If this is the case, choose designs that incorporate smaller details or select wallpaper with a simple textured surface rather than a pattern.

Spaces can also be dramatically updated with strategic wallpaper choices—opt for a pattern with vertical stripes to make a ceiling appear taller, a cheery yellow design to brighten up a dark space or shimmering paper to bring a glow to a dining room. “There are so many options that there really is a wallpaper for everyone,” Tania says. “Don’t be afraid; this is your chance to let your personality shine through.”

For areas with few windows, bring the outdoors inside with nature-themed paper over everyday surfaces like closet doors. And don’t stop with the wallpaper: Framed pictures in varying sizes can be added on top of a paper-covered wall for an art salon-inspired space.

Besides picking the pattern, it’s just as important to consider the practical points of applying wallpaper. Measuring the space, determining how many rolls to purchase, cutting the sections and installing the paper makes the process a big commitment—one that isn’t geared toward a DIY project. “I would absolutely only use a professional,” Tania says. “Wallpaper is not easy to install, and the errors are obvious when made.”

If you’d prefer a quicker weekend project, consider removable wall decals, which come in looks from chalkboards and maps to die-cut circles and flowers as well as more traditional patterns that offer the same design elements as conventional wallpaper. This type of covering has a sticker-like backing—just peel off the protective layer and press the paper onto the wall. It will stay put until inspiration hits for your next big design moment.

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