A second look at the wonders of wallpaper

I was just pawing through some new wallpaper books looking for a product for a client when I came across a brick patterned wall covering!

It is in a new book we have with New York style inspired prints and graphics and I love the entire book, it has given my creativity wings to create a New York-themed theatre space in my basement complete with photos my daughter took while we were there.

Growing up in a house full (and I mean full) of wallpaper means that I have been reluctant to return to wallpaper until today.

Seeing this fabulous book full of New York visuals is very exciting and I think I am going to dive back in to wallpaper! Even while my subconscious memory is shouting at me in the background ‘remember all the trouble with wallpaper’, I still want to put it on my walls.

I think that everyone over the age of 40 has some life experience with wallpaper.

It raged into our homes in the 70s in bold prints, shiny metallic and velvet finishes which was for many a dramatic design statement.

Those of you who have renovated an older home may have had the knuckle busting experience of several layers of wallpaper or newspaper pasted to a wall. When I was small, my parents spent a great deal of time buying and fixing up homes for resale and my sisters and I were usually involved in the sweat equity part of the deal.

One home had 10 layers (that we could count) of wallpaper and newspaper glued to the lath and plaster walls. Ten layers! I am sure the room got larger by a few square feet after those walls were clear. The humor in this is that my mom immediately hung new wallpaper after cleaning the walls!

Have any of you had experience with hanging wallpaper in a bathroom?

The sad truth is that most bathrooms with showers have far too much humidity to allow wallpaper to be installed. I have been in dozens of homes where wallpaper in bathrooms is peeling, cheerless and droopy.

Bathroom walls are especially vulnerable to stains from sprays, lotions and soaps and many people learned the hard way that wallpaper in a bathroom is a bad idea.

The main consideration with wallpaper is the cost. You can invest thousands of dollars on expensive wallpaper and then feel married to it for decades, even after it is long out of style.

I worked with a client years ago whose house was adorned with wallpaper that was very expensive.

She told people it was very expensive but her friends kept telling her to get rid of it!

After 25 years most things we own will be out of style, even very expensive wallpaper. It wasn’t that she loved it, it was just the cost involved made her keep it longer than she needed to.

The wallpaper had textured jute threads and we ended up painting over top of it, giving her walls a cool striped affect in a trendy new colour.

Even with amazing wallpaper making its debut, most clients are buying it for feature walls or small powder rooms.

Gone are the days when entire homes are papered front to back and floor to ceiling, we have come full circle with wallpaper patterns and styles but the methods of application have changed.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre.

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