The Big Coverup

Papers and other coverings can change design in a way paint never will. Here’s the latest.

This Mystic Vine wallcovering in moonlight gold by Stacy Garcia is available at Shinn’s Paint Store in Wilmington. Wallpaper has never been for the faint of heart. Even a subtle print or material can create a dramatic effect in a room, but that doesn’t mean that the outcome must be garish.

Options are limitless for every type of room. There are countless textures, materials and colors to help you achieve any look you can imagine. Traditional papers with colored patterns or florals are especially numerous, though they don’t come close to representing the range of options available.

“Wallpaper works in distinctive spaces or particular rooms,” says Amanda Rafail of Interior Concepts in Hockessin. “When selecting wallcoverings, homeowners usually seek something current, but timeless.”

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Grass cloth from MDC Wallcoverings (Shinn’s)For homeowners who want a totally different look in any room, wallpapers may set the tone for the space. Most designers and decorators recognize that each room has its own virtues. Within any home, rooms vary by size, function and amount of natural light.

At the Design Center of Rehoboth, owner Ed Albers typically sees clients go one of two ways on wallcoverings. Though many go for bold, retro patterns or colors, others gravitate toward neutral colors and natural fibers. Both styles have their virtues. The selection depends upon the room.

Paperweave from MDC Wallcoverings (Shinn’s)“Many of the colorful, large-scale patterns that people select are preferred in powder rooms and ladies’ dressing rooms,” says Albers. Lime green, fuchsia, dark blues and teals have been especially popular. Rhinestones and small gems add glam to some of the bold patterns.

Ellen Sarafian of Dezins Unlimited in Wilmington has seen clients gravitate toward European patterns with big prints and designer patterns. Flocked papers—papers with raised or velvety textures—have been especially popular, and Sarafian has seen numerous people selecting prints in spa blues and browns.

Sand Key by Thibaut Wallpaper & Fabrics is available at Design Center of RehobothRose Giroso of RDG Interiors notes that toile has been consistently popular in recent years. “Traditional black and white patterns are always popular, but pink and green patterns have been attracting much attention as well,” Giroso says.

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Such colorful patterns usually enhance bathrooms and children’s bedrooms. Giroso has seen recent interest in new toiles based on African-American designs and themes. Some clients have selected subtle faux-suede finishes in sandy beiges and chocolate browns to add warmth to a space. (A micro-fiber is typically used in place of real suede to provide the same look with less maintenance.)

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Hana wallcovering in walnut from the Stacy Garcia Collection (Shinn’s)Homeowners have also been attracted to textured materials such as grass cloth, linen and raffia. Such selections are usually used to create a relaxed, beachy feel. Giroso has noticed many of her clients are drawn to grass cloth in shades of green. Grass cloth in pale earth tones and neutrals creates a calming feeling. She also points to raffia as an interesting way to create a subtle, earthy finish on walls.

Rafail has used laser-cut grass cloth in some of her design plans. Unlike flat sheets of grass cloth, the laser-cut alternative pieces the paper together to appear woven, with enhanced texture. The look is uniform without being busy.

Starburst from Ronald Redding Wallcoverings (Shinn’s)In addition to grass cloth, papers with dimensional finishes that resemble finely crushed pebbles have attracted attention. “Current wallpaper books definitely have more texture, shine and sparkle,” Rafail says. New papers pair materials such as natural cork and mica to create a bright, mirrored effect. Others have patterns traced in sand or glass beads to create a glistening, three-dimensional appearance.

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Jana Hubbard of Affordable Elegance in Seaford has seen clients gravitating toward metallic gold colors and shades of aqua and violet. She recently designed a dining room with a metallic stripe paper accented by a metallic paint.

Townsend Damask from Ronald Redding (Shinn’s)Hubbard points out that many homeowners are attracted to wallcoverings when redesigning a larger area, such as a foyer.

“Hiring a decorative painter can be nearly two or three times the cost of hiring someone to hang wallpaper,” she says. Hubbard also emphasizes that purchasing high-quality papers is essential. “Colors can tell you when a paper is higher-end. The colors should jump off of the wall.”

If the colors on a wallcovering sample appear flat and lackluster, the quality of the paper is questionable. Sarafian suggests that clients pay attention to the weight and backing of wallpaper. “If the paper is very light or even somewhat transparent, it probably is not of the highest quality,” she says.

Tropical Toile by Thibaut Wallpaper & Fabrics (Design Center of Rehoboth)Sarafian recommends covering walls with a liner paper before hanging decorative paper. The liner improves the appearance of lower quality papers and makes any wallpaper easier to remove in the future.

Virtuoso wallcovering from Ronald Redding (Shinn’s)When considering wallcoverings, focus not only on materials and colors, but also on how you plan to hang your selection. “Sometimes I consider having the paper hung horizontally, rather than vertically” to create a more interesting effect, Giroso says.

Being aware of a room’s quirks and the intended use of the completed space usually helps decorators inform their clients’ visions. Whether a homeowner ultimately selects a neutral grass cloth or a flocked fuchsia print, wallpaper can make an original and creative statement in any home’s decor.


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