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Not Your Grandmother's Wallpaper: The Return of Wallpaper

Wallpaper now comes in bright colors and bold patterns.
Wallpaper now comes in bright colors and bold patterns.
Tim Platt/Iconica/Getty Images

Wallpaper was always a popular option for adding pattern and color to a wall, or for covering up weathered spots. When trends in the '90s moved toward faux finishes, glazing and sponging, paint came back into style. These days wallpaper has come back with a bang. If Oprah says so, then you know it must be true. Wallpaper can rejuvenate a room, becoming the element that ties it all together. Paint and wainscoting are certainly one way to go, but if you check out new wallpaper designs, you'll see that they aren't the tired and dated looks of years gone by. Take your time selecting the right print, and wallpaper can do a lot more for a room that a coat of paint. Here are a few tips for what to look for in today's wallpaper.

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Gone are the dated damasks, the prim Laura Ashley florals and the stodgy symmetrical patterns. Today's wallpapers are modern and fun -- and often inspired by nature. Newer selections range from big beautiful florals to bold graphics or stripes that make a statement in any room. There are papers with wood grain and some even use actual wood veneers. Several options come in metallic sheens and every pattern and color combo you can think of. With such a broad selection of styles available on the market, wallpaper can serve as a backdrop, or it can be the main attraction.

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Textured wallpaper can bring a subtle depth to the walls.
Textured wallpaper can bring a subtle depth to the walls.
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Textured wallpaper is another trend that's in like Flynn. Many of the available textures are straight from nature, and even with their earthy palette, they add warmth and dimension to a room. Grass cloth is one of the most popular choices, ranging in price points from vinyl prints that look like grass cloth to a pricier version that's made from the real thing. Linen and bamboo are other popular options. If you want to bring the outdoors in, there are papers that mimic granite, slate and stone and look as legit as the real thing. Would you love the look of an exposed brick wall in your loft or living room? You can choose from many brick-patterned wallpapers for the same effect at a fraction of the cost of actual brick. If you like the idea of adding texture to your walls but want to pick your own colors, you can even get textured wallpaper with a paintable surface.

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Of course, Disney murals run rampant, but there are plenty of adult options on the market as well. Do you want to really set the stage for your bear rug and your leopard print sofa? Why not a wall of jungle safari, complete with realistic lions and tigers? Are you an avid traveler or maybe just an aspiring to become one? A wall-sized world map certainly serves as a conversation or inspiration piece. Or maybe you're a landlocked beach buff? You can pair a tropical oasis mural with a wave machine to tide you over until your next trip. Asian scenes, bamboo forests, urban cityscapes or even the Last Supper are all available. If you want to pack a punch without committing to a theme, you can also find murals that serve as an art installation, with many floral or abstract designs to choose from.

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Sources

  • Horn, Jane. "Wallpaper is back." Sunset, February, 2000. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1216/is_2_204/ai_59247089/
  • "Mural Wallpaper." Muralwallpaper.com, 2010. http://muralwallpaper.com/store/Home:Show
  • Neal, Rome. "Wallpaper: Back In Style." Cbsnews.com, April 6, 2004. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/05/earlyshow/contributors/christyferer/main610368.shtml
  • "Really? Wallpaper is becoming cool again." Msnbc.com, July 15, 2009. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/31929119

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