Wallpaper makes a comeback

A designing faux pas for decades, it’s expressive for a new generation

Dreamstime images
Dreamstime images
Dreamstime images

For years, it’s been taboo.

An interior design no-no – at least, that’s what a lot of people said – which would instantly transform your home from something modern and unique to a garish, undesirable and ugly relic from a time best forgotten.

But here’s the deal:

Wallpaper is back. And in a big way.

“Oh gosh, yes,” says Dennis Floyd-Bartholomew, co-owner of ‘s Wonderful Interiors, a home-designing company at Jefferson Pointe.

It’s hard to pinpoint the rise in wallpaper – often called wall coverings nowadays – but there are theories. Some home designers say it’s a rebellion against the sterile grays and whites of the 1990s and early 2000s, according to the Washington Post.

Some credit bloggers, HGTV and Instagram where people have shown off their wall coverings, which in a way allow them to give their home a personal touch with various patterns paint just cannot offer.

Paulina Berberian, a creative director at Maryland-based Brewster Home Fashions, told the Washington Post millennial consumers may be driving the trend. They are rapidly buying up houses and looking for ways to make their homes stand out from those of their parents.

“Young people who grew up in the clean, minimalism era have never had wallpaper,” Berberian said.

Floyd-Bartholomew, who has owned ‘s Wonderful Interiors with his husband Terence Bartholomew for 17 years, said recently he had a 14-year-old girl come in and pick out wallpaper for her bedroom. But it’s not just young people – adults have been coming in looking for wallpaper for the past five years.

“It’s been back since 2012, but while it came back then, here’s the biggest change we’ve seen – now it’s across the board and very trendy for all age groups,” Floyd-Bartholomew said.

He can’t pinpoint exactly how it’s become popular – though he credits Vera Bradley founder Barbara Baekgaard as firing up the wallpaper trend to some extent.

He said a lot of people relate to the Vera Bradley brand, noting many of the businesses stores are decorated with wallpaper. Vera Bradley has also worked to reach younger consumers, he said, who may be getting into wallpaper and wall coverings.

“I would be hard pressed to find another person more influential in wallpaper,” Floyd-Bartholomew said.

Also driving the trend for wallpaper is the fact there are all kinds of styles, designs and textures that can be bought nowadays.

Gone are the designs of big fruit or clusters of roses which adorned many people’s homes in the 1960s and 1970s. “There’s certainly none of those patterns that we see,” Floyd-Bartholomew said.

Today, many prints feature oversized shapes or artistic designs that are much sharper than wallpaper of yesteryear. Colors are bolder and there is more variety of available designs. Plus, texture is a driving force in popularity and sales.

Textures, in fact, can make the wallpaper almost three-dimensional and can transform a room. Some of the textures available look and feel like stone or even petrified wood. They are so realistic it’s hard to distinguish the wall coverings from the real thing.

“Just last week, we had installed this thick vinyl wallpaper that emulates wood,” Floyd-Bartholomew said. “Think of petrified wood, like wood someone would find, and they made a wall covering of that. We even had someone ask if it was real. We had to tell them, ‘Nope. It’s wallpaper.'”

Floyd-Bartholomew added his home includes a burlap wall covering that looks and feels like, well, burlap.

“Just think of putting that up all over your walls,” he said. “It’s dimensional, it’s textual, it’s really great.”

And while there’s always a chance you might get tired of your wallpaper or wall covering, Floyd-Bartholomew said he advises clients they can paint over it. Nobody has yet, but by doing so there is the possibility you can get some surprising, and pleasant, results. A new design may emerge due to the way the paint sets, or the colors and patterns showing through the paint may produce a new effect.

Even though wallpaper may have a resurgence of popularity, for many it never really went away.

“We always say, for a person who has a well-appointed home, wallpaper never went out of style,” Floyd-Bartholomew said. “Now, it’s just sort of all over.”

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