Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Decorating Pet Peeves - Wallpaper, Is It Ever a Good Idea?

Could you sleep in this room? Not me!

This month as we discuss decorating basics for a smaller space, I'd like to bring up a few of my 'pet peeves'. High on my list of 'no-nos' is wallpaper, especially floral wallpaper. I expect many of you out there will disagree with me, but wallpaper, is almost never a good idea. Here are my reasons:
  • Wallpaper makes a room look dated, regardless of whether the pattern is new.
  • A wallpapered room often feels cluttered and claustrophobic. The 'busyness' of the walls overpowers every other design element.
  • Wallpaper gets dirty very quickly and can be difficult to clean.
  • It takes a professional to hang wallpaper correctly and it is hard to remove and replace.
  • Wallpaper 'chops-up' the continuous visual flow needed to make a small space harmonious.
  • Wallpaper almost always becomes a room's focus. To create balance, walls should be the background for a room, not its focal point.
Now, if you must have wallpaper, here are photos of some acceptable wallpapered rooms. But let me tell you, these examples were not easy to find.

This works because the wallpaper is monochromatic.

The natural light and uniform color scheme saves this room.

The black wallpaper is the only accent color here so it is not overwhelming.

Again the wallpaper is the only accent color in this room so it works.
These are all complimentary colors which balance with the the wallpaper.

Until next time,



  1. Hello! While I'm not entirely convinced that wallpaper is all that bad (I do long for handpainted Chinese paper in my dining room, but that's unlikely to every happen!), I enjoyed your blog very much and also your Jewel Box Home website. Is that your sweet-looking little Cavalier in your house picture album? I have two of my own. Thank you for sharing! -- Cass

  2. I agree. I've never liked wallpaper. I guess because I came of age in the 80s and don't ever want to see another "country" style border with ducks or chickens. :)

    I once thought I would paper a powder room with a red toile, but I just couldn't commit. I just can't say that in five years I would still like it, and the investment is too high. A can of paint is a much more affordable solution if you pick the wrong color, but the wrong wallpaper is another story.

  3. Can I add to your wallpaper "no-no's" ? My home...well the upstairs at least is COVERED in not one, but TWO layers of wallpaper (over plaster walls mind you) and not only that but EACH layer of wallpaper is covered in...oh...I'd say three or four layers of paint!!! ARGH!!! I HATE wallpaper and I hate even more when people are too lazy to REMOVE wallpaper before painting! ! ! lol (Can you tell I've been removing wallpaper for awhile??) Thanks for a great post!!

  4. I think you've convinced me!

  5. Twelve years ago my husband and I bought our first home, an old Georgian style home built in 1974. Of course, when we first walked inside, it was 1974 all over again! The house was covered with shag carpeting and mirrored wallpaper on every available square inch. I promised my new home, from that day forward, I would spare it the burden it of such a decorator's mess. I love new trends but shag rugs and bold wallpaper prints? Never in my house!

  6. Unless it's just a magnificent pattern that will be loveable for 15 years, I feel safer being "in" with throw pillows.

    It can also be hard to remove. I'm stripping some from a house we purchased and assume the wall wasn't primed first, as the top layer of sheet rock (I love plaster) is comeing off, too.

  7. I have seen a lot more decorating shows using wallpaper. That is one trend I will not be following. I have removed a ton of ugly wallpaper (that I am sure was pretty to someone at sometime)from my house. It is a ton of work, no thanks!