The Great Wallpaper Renaissance

What was once a dated wallcovering has transformed into the darling of designers. Wallpaper is having a major moment, and local interiors maven Katie Kirby shares her top picks for the trend.

Interior Designer Katie Kirby / Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

All trends come and go. A few of the best trends, however, come and go and come full circle again, reappearing years later with a fresh new look. According to local interior designer Katie Kirby, we are just coming full circle with one trend in particular. “Wallpaper is very hot right now and very in,” she says.

Wallpaper traces its roots as far back as Europe in the 1500s, although some say the Chinese might have used it in their buildings even sooner. A decorating option once out of reach of your average citizen, wallpaper became democratized in the 1950s and saw great popularity in the following decades. Flocked velvets and shiny foils ruled in the ’70s while florals with matching borders and trims covered the ’80s. After a few too many attempts to remove hard-stuck trends from home interiors, homeowners switched to solid colors of paint with tons of white, and wallpaper all but disappeared from store shelves. Not anymore.

Kirby has been designing homes for residents on both sides of the Bay for the past 15 years, helping with everything from a room refresh to a completely new construction plan. She even assists clients with the small but important details of a home update, like lighting schemes, custom furniture plans or art installations. Wallpaper is increasingly becoming a part of her clients’ wish lists.

“It’s not just for walls anymore,” she advises. “Try it somewhere unexpected like on the ceiling or in the back of a bookcase.” Kirby loves to mix traditional and modern, and adding wallpaper is a great way to achieve a fun mix. “They’ve come a long way with the technology,” she says, so don’t be afraid to try it out. The new glues ensure wallpaper will come down as easily as it went up, making way for the next trend to circle back around.

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Wall to Wall Art

If you’re looking to make a serious investment in patterned walls, these three wallpapers are the way to go. Each one is completely custom-made from start to finish. You send the designers your room dimensions, they draw up the plans and supply a sample rendering which you approve before printing. The possibilities are endless!

1. Fromental
This pattern, one of many options from Fromental, is meant to look like travertine stone. “It’s amazing on walls and in the backs of bookshelves, too,” says Kirby.

2. Area Environments
This designer makes large-scale contemporary prints with clean looks that pair beautifully with antique furniture. Kirby says Area Environments papers are “pure art on a wall.”

3. de Gournay
This classic line is most often used in dining rooms but also works well in foyers and living areas. The exquisite botanical scenes are hand-painted with custom colors and can even be woven with silk.

Ready to Roll

If custom wallpaper is beyond your budget, Kirby loves these options sold by the roll and available through designers everywhere.

1. “I love the cheerful green of this fun wallpaper. It is so fabulous in a powder room or laundry room.” Alta 82113 Wallpaper in Kelly by Lindsay Cowles

2. “I used this in my client’s powder room (left) because it fit her playful personality and the color scheme of her house. It’s a little unexpected, not the typical grasscloth you see in so many other bathrooms.” Alta Ivory-A Wallpaper in Grey by Lindsay Cowles

3. “This bold wallpaper screams power and grabs your attention, but black and white keeps it classic and easy to work with.” Alta 81613 Wallpaper in Black by Lindsay Cowles

4. “This bold pattern has soft curves and a neutral color palette. Designer Kelly Wearstler is so creative and out of the box.” Crescent Paper in Ebony & Cream by Kelly Wearstler

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