You guys should see the office right now. Being in the midst of four exciting design projects (updates coming soon!), we have wallpaper samples scattered all over the floors and our desks. We’re living in a pastiche of pattern, color, and texture that sends our senses to paradise—and we absolutely love it.
That said, we recognize the overwhelming obstacle of choosing a great wallpaper. There are just too many options! It’s like being a kid in a candy shop and being told, “You can have one piece of candy. Choose wisely.” More often than not, our strategy involves Kathy taking each wallpaper sample around the office and having our design-savvy staff vote yay or nay. Acknowledging this designer challenge, the Kuotes has put together this collection of tips for choosing wallpaper that wows.
Wallpaper Tip #1. Know Your Space like the Back of Your Hand
While this first tip may sound obvious, it is probably the most important aspect of selecting wallpaper. Ask yourself: What is my room going to be used for? Bedrooms tend to call for minimal, serene patterns and quiet shades that create a warm and romantic environment. If you’re wallpapering a living room, kitchen, or other entertainment space, embrace color and bold patterns to foster a lively energy. Also consider the scale of the space. Long vertical patterns can accentuate high ceilings.
Smaller, more intricate patterns perform well when a space has lots of windows, doors, and wall hangings, but they may be a bit abrasive on large empty walls. Does the space call for each wall to have wallpaper, or will you only be accenting one wall? All of these questions should be hashed out before you make a purchase.
Wallpaper Tip #2. Determine Durability
Photo via Kathy Kuo Home
There are many different materials to choose from when deciding on wallpaper. More delicate materials and textures should be reserved for rooms that won’t face too much wear, like master and guest bedrooms or a dining room. Kids rooms and entertainment spaces may not be the space for fragile papers.
Wallpaper Tip #3. Become a Pattern Professional
The key factor when choosing wallpaper is finding a pattern that you love, but don’t forget that not every pattern that you love will be right for your room. Here’s a list of some pattern guidelines that we highly recommend:
- Horizontal patterns and designs widen and open up a room but can also make the ceiling appear lower than it truly is.
- Vertical patterns or designs make the ceiling appear higher than it is and add a sense of grandiosity to a space.
- Large patterns work best in large rooms, and small patterns work best in small rooms. If you use a large, spacious pattern in a small room, the pattern will accentuate the smallness of the room and overpower the space.
- Dark patterns will make the room seem smaller. In contrast, light wallpapers open and widen a space making it appear larger.
- Damask and floral patterns with fine lines create a romantic atmosphere, especially if muted or pastel colors are used.
- Bold, geometric patterns are best for contemporary and modern rooms while elegant damasks and stripes create a traditional look.
Wallpaper Tip #4. Make the Most of Lighting
If your space is dark or lacks windows, you can use wallpaper almost as you would a mirror. Look for wallpapers that will reflect light, such as patterns with light colors or metallic or iridescent ink. For dark wallpapers or textured wallpapers, make sure to install plenty of lighting fixtures as dark wallpapers absorb light and make a room look smaller. Dark wallpaper is perfect for moodier designs, and it works best when paired with a sconce or another lighting fixture to create a warm, orange glow.
Wallpaper Tip #5. Test out Textures
Read our review of the Kips Bay Decorator Show House and you’ll discover that one of this year’s biggest design trends is textured wallpaper. Patterned wallpapers can have actual tactile surfaces, such as grass cloth (very popular right now), burlap, foil, expanded vinyl, and even fabric; or they can simulate the look of a material, such as marble, wood, leather, fabric, or animal skin.
Textured wallpaper offers a variety of design purposes: reflective papers can light up a room just like a mirror can (see Tip #4), and handcrafted tactile papers have a three-dimensional quality that enhance the layered, textured look of a space. Textured wallpaper can also camouflage wall imperfections that other wallpapers cannot.
Wallpaper Tip #6. Prevent Feelings of Regret
Photo via Kathy Kuo Home
Wallpaper is a big decision. Once you decide on a wallpaper, it can be quite the hassle and expense to take it down or replace it. Some simple advice for whether or not you’re going to love your wallpaper? Plan in advance and tape your favorite wallpaper sample to the ceiling above your bed for two to three weeks.
Using this tactic, it’ll be the first thing you see every day and the last thing you see before you go to bed. If you still love it after that, there’s a pretty good guarantee you’ll love it every day up on your walls. If you start getting nightmares…well, maybe you should try a different pattern.
Wallpaper Tip #7. Don’t Run out of Paper
There are many situations in which running out of paper can be quite problematic—wallpapering a room just happens to be one of them. So then, how do you know how much wallpaper to purchase? It’s actually quite simple:
1. Although wallpaper rolls are measured in square feet, it is important to take your measurement to the nearest eighth inch. Measure the length of each wall in inches, and then measure the height of the room from ceiling to floor in inches.
2. Add together the lengths of each wall in the room, and then multiply that sum by the height of the room. The result will be your wall area in inches.
3. To convert to square feet, simply divide your result by 144.
4. Measure out the square footage of windows, doors and other large openings, and deduct this amount from your calculation.
5. Check the roll label for how much square foot coverage the roll gives and ensure the roll coverage is more than the total wall square footage.
6. In general, we suggest ordering one more roll than you may need. It’s always better to be safe in these situations.