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Say goodbye to outdated prints. Here’s how to make wallpaper work for your home.

In this powder room, you have just entered a romantic garden.  Mixing silver and gold in this bathroom keeps it interesting and not dated.  The paper is from Dwell Studio by York.
In this powder room, you have just entered a romantic garden. Mixing silver and gold in this bathroom keeps it interesting and not dated. The paper is from Dwell Studio by York. Marilyn Peryer of Style House Ph

Thinking about sprucing up a space? Have you noticed all the gorgeous wallpapers everywhere? Are you tired of just painting and moving around the furniture?

Think about it. How many times have you been in a great hotel or restaurant and have loved the wallpaper. It’s not hard to get that designer feel in your home.

Gone are the days of the wide borders in dining rooms and children’s nurseries. It doesn’t have to be four full walls in a busy print. Try a small project to give you confidence to try it again.

1. How to begin

Let’s start with some interesting accent walls, foyers and powder rooms. It can just be a highlight or a feature in a room. For example, a graphic print can have a big impact on a small space. The new rule of wallpaper is anything goes almost anywhere. That means beyond the bathroom and kitchen. Consider the back of bookcases, under chair rails in a family room, ceiling in a powder room or tray ceiling in a dining room, an accent wall behind a bed or a niche in a foyer.

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A good rule when selecting wallpaper for the powder room make it fun. It’s your public restroom. This paper is by Thibaut and has a bold and vivid tribal feel. Sandy Berman Photography

2. Find your focus

There are almost too many possibilities . Wallpaper books may be organized by color and texture or time periods, such as Art Deco or Mid-Century Modern. Some books are indexed by shapes, like geometric and stripes. Sound overwhelming? It’s best to start off with wallpaper books organized by color to help you find what you are looking for, or that shade of green that’s just right.

If that doesn’t help, try going the route of texture vs. non-texture. The grass cloth from the ’70s is a timeless classic. Grass cloth is ultra-forgiving when it comes to nail holes, too. When a nail is removed, just move the grass cloth fiber over a little bit, and it should hide the hole.

Wall coverings that have sheen with a geometric pattern transform the average living room into a swanky lounge.

Pinning sample squares on your walls can help you decide what works best before purchasing several rolls of paper.

A good rule to remember is if you love the current style of your room but want to spruce up your room, look into wallpaper that’s the same shade as the room’s most dominant color.

3. Local sources

We have some great local sources for wallcoverings in our area. Allen Funk’s Wallpapers on Duraleigh Road stocks an extensive collection of York Wallcoverings. Allen Funk’s has a large inventory of beautiful papers by Thibaut or Schumacher.

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This beautiful grass cloth is by Philip Jeffries. It’s a classy vibe, but when adding a Sherwin Williams faux ceiling pared with an attractive chandelier the results are incredible. Marilyn Peryer of Style House Ph

Trig Modern on East Whitaker Mill Road is another source for interesting wallcoverings. They stock a French brand of paper called Elitis, which imitates art on the wall. Trig also stocks samples from the Detroit Wallpaper Co., which is a full custom wallpaper company.

4. Application and materials

Applying wallpaper isn’t what it once was: hard to apply and harder to remove. “It’s easier to work with and much quicker to apply,” says Lori Powers of Wake Forest, an experienced wallpaper installer.

For example, York Wallcoverings sells a product line called Sure Strip — wallcoverings that are easier to install and remove then conventional wallcoverings. Manufactured with a special adhesive, they can be removed easily in full strips when it’s time to redecorate.

“It makes our jobs much easier,” Powers said. “It’s just a lot better to work with than the papers of ’80s and ’90s.”

Experts advise that it’s important to use a wallpaper primer in all circumstances, whether you install the paper yourself or hire a pro.

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Mid Century Optic by York hits the mark to produce the finishing touch in this swanky lounge. The endless geometric pattern creates a cosmopolitan hip feeling of a cocktail lounge within someone’s home. Sandy Berman Photography

5. The costs

Single rolls of wallpaper vary widely in price, from a reasonable $15 to $400. Wallpaper is priced per single roll and is sold in double rolls. Confusing, right? That’s when a designer, installer or retailer can offer advice.

There are numerous factors that drive the cost: quality of paper, levels of screens (layers of ink), photo-designed, complexity of design, and if the pattern is raised. All of these features, plus where the paper is manufactured and of course shipped from, contribute to the final cost of the paper.

If you have taken the time to select a wallcovering you love, take the time to hire a qualified professional, and consider how this will affect your costs. Sometimes doing it on your own when hanging a complicated pattern might not be as easy as you think. When hiring a professional installer, fees might vary. A good start is to ask your designer or wallpaper store for a reference.

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Don’t forgot wallpaper in a small area can instantly change the look of the space. A printed paper weave with a stamped metallic design was used under the chair rail in this family room. It is made by Thibaut. Adding an accent of wallpaper to a room can add color, texture, and pattern. Any of these factors can make your room look better. Sandy Berman Photography

So say goodbye to any monkeys, zebras or green and cranberry-striped wallpaper lingering on your walls. It’s probably time for a change.

The designers who participate in this N&O design series are members of the Alliance of Interior Designers, allianceofinteriordesigners.org.

About the designer

Laura Burke is the owner of Burke Designs in Raleigh. Contact her at lburke1014@gmail.com, 919-427-3027 or www.burkedesigns.com.

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