Wallpaper Is Back—Here’s How to Do It, and What to Avoid

“The trend for wallpaper is hotter than ever,” top interior designer Martyn Laurence Bullard told me just around the New Year.  The subsequent months have indeed proved him right: buzzy patterned-papers came out from the likes of Gucci and Cabana magazine. Come January 2022, Diptyque will join the list. And that’s not to mention the slew of high-profile design projects that have fully embraced over-the-top wall decor: take the floral-adorned ladies’ room at Annabel’s in London, House of Hackney’s palmeral-print guest room for Kate Moss, or the psychedelic marbled walls at New Orleans’ new Hotel Saint Vincent.

Even as wallpaper has been around for quite some time—who could forget Jackie Kennedy’s Zuber wallpaper of the Boston Harbor in the White House?—statistics back up a spike: Pinterest reports that searches for “wallpaper” were up 41 percent year over year in 2020. Why? As the design pendulum swings from muted to maximalist, wallpaper is a fabulous way to express your own taste and eclecticism. As many of us adjust to a new life working partially—or even full time—from home, never has personal, well-executed interior style been more important.

Yet it’s one thing to admire wallpaper in the pages of a glossy magazine or in a trendy restaurant that has a whole decorating team at their disposable. When it comes to executing it on a personal level, it can feel more like a daunting commitment. What if I put it up and don’t like it? What if it feels dated in a few years? Does this even go with my furniture? To help, Vogue asked three interior designers to share their tips on picking the best wallpaper for your space, what mistakes to avoid, and their favorite prints.

Size Is Everything

Everyone we talked to reiterated the same point: when choosing a wallpaper, the biggest factor is the size of your room. “That to me determines the scale of the paper—smaller rooms, smaller prints,” says Kathryn M. Ireland. Marissa Zajack, graphic designer for The Politician turned interior designer, adds that “for large spaces, wallpaper will make a bold statement with large patterns.”

Just don’t put small prints in a big room and big prints in a small room: “Too small of a pattern in a large room can become fussy and annoying, too large can overpower the space,” says Bullard.

Take Some Time To Think

Let’s state some facts here: wallpaper is an art form. It’s also a huge pain to remove or replace. So here’s what Bullard tells all his clients: Buy one roll, and pin the paper up to your wall. Then leave it up for awhile. “Look at it in the morning light, midday light, and evening light to be sure you love the way it looks in all its moods. And if you do, well that’s the one for you,” he says.

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