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Is Wallpaper Too Old School For Your Home?

» Home Improvement


Published: 11/19/2012


Many decorating ideas have their time in the spotlight, before the next design trend arrives. Wallpaper, often associated in some people's minds with old fashioned florals or outrageous prints, can be considered passé by interior designers and many homeowners. Has the sun really set on wallpaper?

Wallpaper waned in popularity in the early 90's, as decorating emphasized the minimalist look. Paint was more in line with the clean lines and simple looks popular in interior design. Recent sales trends show an uptick in wallpaper sales, suggesting a potential comeback.

The Case For Wallpaper

If home shows on TV are a measure of what's hot in interior design, wallpaper is making a comeback. Decorators may not be going crazy and papering every room, but wallpaper is showing up in single rooms, on accent walls, and in powder rooms. Whether you prefer neutral or deep tone walls, wallpaper in an adjoining room can be beautiful way to add texture, dimension, color, and pattern.

You might add wallpaper to give designer flair to the room, but it can be a lifesaver if you have imperfect walls. Wallpaper can hide some imperfections and draw attention away from others. Not all wallpaper is boldly patterned; you can add tone-on-tone texture too.

The Case Against Wallpaper

Wallpaper is the ultimate way to personalize your home, but in home decorating, it can be easy to cross the line in personal aesthetic preference. Depending on the pattern, wall covering can give a room a busy look that detracts from the room and competes with the patterns in the furniture and accessories. After a while, you might tire of it and find that preparing the walls to paint is tedious.

Modern wallpaper is easily stripped from the wall, but old papers bonded with the wall surface, making removal a messy, time-consuming job that involved using a steamer and being pelted with hot globs of wet paper. Even after removing strippable paper, you need to wash down the wall before painting to remove glue residue. While you can paint over wallpaper, you need to prepare the wall with oil-based primer and then use oil-based paint for best results, as the water in latex paint can lead to bubbles or peeling in the paper underneath.

Your time and cost investment does not stop there. Wallpaper ranges from very inexpensive to hundreds of dollars per roll. The cost of decorating a room can be substantial, while the cost of hiring someone can be nearly as much as the cost per roll. Even if you do it yourself, you have to be careful in applying it so that the patterns match and the seams lay correctly.

The rule of thumb is to always decorate to your taste. If you anticipate selling your home in the next few years, painting might be the smarter choice, but since modern wallpaper is easy to remove, go for the wallpaper if you love it!