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Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper

by | Mar 26, 2008 | Creative Inspiration & Projects, Decorating Inspiration, Details, Style Tips

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Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper

Wallpaper Ideas

I like wallpaper. I’ll admit, it has been a love/hate sort of thing. I’ve hated layers of wallpapers that I have had to remove, but loved wallpaper that I chose myself. In the right place, with the right paper, and the right wallpaper hanger person, I love it.

I know that wallpaper has had a bad reputation for the last number of years in some circles. We can blame that on whoever decided we all needed the country blue geese borders of 1980 or other hideous papers that were all the rage back in the day. Yep, I’ve seen some really ugly wallpapers! And I’ve dreaded pulling it off for the damage it might do to the walls thanks to the industrial strength paste that was used. Good thing times are changing and the paper is much easier to remove now!

Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper

Blue Wallpapered Room: Traditional Home

No matter what your particular feeling is about wallpaper these days, I think it has its place. I have never fallen out of love with it, so to me it is not a matter of whether it is “in” or “out” or “trendy” or not, it is whether it serves a purpose and achieves the look I want. Keep in mind that wallpaper has been around forever, even if it has had some unfortunate periods in history.

Wallpaper can be a great style tool, if you choose carefully. It can define your home as something unique and personal to you. So, since we discussed the use of paper for decorative purposes a previous Style Tips post, let’s continue this topic by diving in to some photos that show where wallpaper can be quite effective for defining individual style.

Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Wallpaper can give walls a great texture and depth that you just can’t achieve as well from paint. There are lots of great natural textured papers out there now. I love this grasscloth look in Barclay Butera’s entryway. I also love the soft pattern in Barclay’s bedroom, below.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Love the paper in the back of the shelves. It is a great added touch. It doesn’t call too much attention to itself but gives a nice textured background for the accessories.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper

Barclay Butera (above five photos)

Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Love this entry and its mood.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Wallpaper can make a cold typical room suddenly cozy and oozing with style and personality. Your personality, you can choose traditional papers, modern styles or whatever suits your fancy. Don’t worry about the next owner of the house unless you are moving any time soon. This is YOUR house. You might as well love it.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Little alcoves like this are well suited to wallpaper’s added touch.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
I have always adored wallpapered closets, powder rooms and tiny nooks or crannies. And, since wallpaper can be expensive in a large room, this is a great way to add a little pizazz without a huge expense.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Wallpaper can even be glamorous! And murals can add a lot of interest, depth, personality and drama to a room.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
If you are an artist, you can create your own wallpaper look with paint and stencils, like in the leaf pattern above.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Or, use paper to cover unsightly things like file cabinets.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Use strips of wallpaper to create unique wall borders or designs. Just please, no geese. Please, for the love of all things stylish. Stick to something more classic or artistic.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
I wouldn’t want the job of papering a ceiling, but I’ve always liked the look.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
We used to paper light switch plates to disguise them on a wallpapered wall, but if you want to make a statement, go ahead and paper them to stand out.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
I love the idea of wallpaper (or craft paper for that matter) to cover mats in frames to give them some flair.
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper
If you don’t want to deal with paint and stencils, you can cut patterns out of wallpaper to add a custom design to plain painted stairs. Or, put paper on doors for a punch of color or pattern.
Give wallpaper a chance.


  1. laissezfaire

    Gorgeous! I love the pics that you chose. So beautiful!

  2. Sue

    Wallpaper gives a room instant character. I’ve always been a fan but I too agree that the boarders of the past have given it a really bad name and for good reason. Todays papers are so lovely if well chosen and placed. Your examples are gorgeous.

  3. Natasha Burns

    Look at all that wonderful wallpaper!!! I love it, but have never really considered it when i re-do a room, it’s usually scraping wallpaper OFF instead of putting it on that is my main aim. There are so many beautiful ones around though we really should consider them

  4. Villa Anna

    I adore wallpaper! Especially damask and chinosiere. Outstanding post!

    Anna :)

  5. lucinda

    It seems that wallpaper is making a come back. All of the rooms and ideas in your post are beautiful. I’m still a little gun shy…when we purchased our home almost every room had wallpaper in it. Some rooms as many as 3 layers, it has taken me years to remove all.

  6. rosieswhimsy

    I adore the idea with the doors at the end. That would be much less scary to do. We have been considering having someone do the embossed wallpaper on the ceiling….the kind you paint…..that looks like tin tiles…anigripta??? Our great room had such a wide expanse of ceiling….it really needs some extra detail. If your research leads you to find more pictures on ceiling treatments, I love to see a post on that :-)

    ((hugs)) Rosie

  7. mydevotional

    Wow! What a great post, filled with so many links and ideas. I am so grateful for this post because when we moved into our Colonial six years ago, many of the rooms were wallpapered. The choices were gorgeous, but the one in our bedroom, which resembles one of your photos, left me confused as to how to decorate around it. You have given me so many ideas. Thank you. Blessings, Karen

  8. bj

    I agree that, for instant personality and character, wallpaper is great. I have had so many bad experiences with it and borders, trying to REMOVE it , that just the sheer mention of using wallpaper on my walls makes me pale. I do think it is just beautiful…..

  9. Melissa Lewis - Off The Wall

    I agree with you on the topic of wallpaper. And as a faux finish, people might think that’s crazy, because I should want everyone to paint the walls instead. But, I do love wallpaper. Especially with all the new designs as of late.

    Love the blue paper in the first picture. So intense.

    Great find!

  10. janet

    I agree that it is your home and you should love it and wall paper certainly does make a personal statement (the apples are almost as ubiquitous as the geese with bows around their necks), but if you should need to sell, please take it down before you put the house on the market. At the very least take it out of the major rooms. OK, think I need to get me some yummy paper for the powder room.


  11. Rhoda

    Hi, Melissa, I so agree on wallpaper. It definitely has it’s place. I don’t have any currently in my house, but I have tossed around the idea of adding it in a bathroom or small area below a chair rail. I might still do it yet! I too have done my share of wall paper stripping (my own!) and it can be a nightmare to remove. No matter if you prime the walls or not, it can still be a bear. So, that’s probably what has held me back the most from doing it again. But, I think there is nothing prettier than a toile wallpaper or textured, something classic and pretty.

    You know I love everything that Barclay does! Love all of his rooms and he definitely has the right eye for wallpaper inspiration.

    Loved all the eye candy on these pics. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some wallpaper again eventually.


  12. cielo

    Good morning! …. Beautiful photographs… I’m not a wallpaper lover myself–I have to say, however, I love what a beautiful Buon fresco can do for a house….

    Have a great day


  13. Hooked on Houses

    These rooms are all so gorgeous, you almost convinced me I need some in my own place! I know I expressed my fear and trepidation of wallpaper in a recent post on my blog (I’m in one of those “circles” that has been down on it, I admit!), but I can definitely appreciate its charm and beauty when done right. -Julia :-)

  14. Cottage Dreaming

    Again you have inspired me. I have always loved the added dimension that wallpaper gives to a room. I am so pleased that the papers are changing and amazed at the great variety that is out there now. Wonderful collection of idea photos.

  15. Design for Mankind

    HA, you are so cute, Melissa. I love this post, love your picks and love your point! :) Go get ’em, tiger!!!

  16. Robin

    I love wallpaper too…especially vintage florals….wallpaper can be so romantic….I love wallpaper on the ceiling too…..

  17. Penny

    Hi Melissa,
    Beautiful wallpaper photos! I love it when OTHER people have wallpaper. I change my mind so much that I think I would be putting it up and taking it done all of the time. As it is, I paint almost every year…lol.

  18. bandelle

    I’m starting to like wallpaper too but only in small doses like in your last few pictures. I’ve seen a few rooms where it’s used on an accent wall or to line the back of bookshelves. Hmmmm…bookshelves…have I just thought of a new weekend project?

    Lovely post, by the way…

  19. Rachel Going

    Right now, I’m not using any wallpaper, though I have been considering it for specific uses. I loved the ideas that you shared. Love,Rachel

  20. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    I’ve always liked wallpaper and I even like to wallpaper. In an older home, it covers a multitude of sins and can add so much interest.

  21. Polly

    I have purchased several rolls over the years that I adore but haven’t had the gumption to put up. Well, except that 1940’s rose print that I HAD to have! I think you’re right, wallpaper can be very elegant or very country or very chic, etc. It can change the mood of a room. Darn – I just decided that I’d paint the dinning room instead of putting up the wallpaper. I’ll have to think about it a little more =) Blessings… Polly (p.s. I’ll bet it takes a lot of time for you to put all these photo together for us – Thank you!)

  22. DebraK

    My bedroom is wallpapered in red toile. I have always loved wallpaper but it gas grown passe! I think it might be making it’s way back. Now removing it is another story…I dread the day when I decide to remove it from the bedroom!
    Your pictures are great inspiration.

  23. Lynda

    Lovely post, Melissa! I love wallpaper!

  24. Pat

    I love the mural wallpaper, Melissa. I promised J I would never have wallpaper again…I think you hit on why he made me promise, in this post. I’ve really had a love hate relationship with wallpaper. However….I would be mighty tempted to have one of those wonderful murals!!


  25. Ruth

    ooooh, I love the seashell mirror, the soft gray rooms and the decopauged switch plates. I have also decopauged my switchplates with a Mackenzie-Childs tissue paper and love them. It adds so much character and whimsy to my rooms.
    Great pictures!

  26. Emily

    Gorgeous choices, gorgeous post! I, too, love wallpaper. Not all papers, not for all rooms, but I definitely never felt the wallpaper hate that swept design about 8-10 years ago. Certain patterns are just timeless!

  27. Tara

    I love giant wallpaper in tiny bathrooms, just so funky…and I love it in other people’s houses..but I hate putting it up and taking it down and the whole thing…but it always looks great !

  28. this is glamorous

    I have always adored wallpaper, and the blue wallpapered room and amazing dining room from Traditional Home have me considering running out to find something bold and glamorous and wallpaper our entire place . . .

    {Hope your Easter was lovely as well!}

  29. Jennifer

    Melissa- These are absolutely terrific examples!! I just wish more people wouldn’t be afraid to use wallpaper, and I so love your comment about this being YOUR house, and decorate it while you’re there. What good advice, we only live once, and our houses should reflect our creativity, love of colour, pattern and texture, if that’s what we love.

  30. Neutral Dwelling

    I haven’t been a lover of wallpaper in the past- but I do love the bedroom with the blue paper and the entry looks fabulous! Maybe I should change my mind!

  31. Sandy

    I can appreciate that you appreciate wall paper but I just am not a fan except in my closets. Yes, I must be nuts but my closets are wall papered! I inherited them but the paper was awful and dreading taking it off, I just papered over it with something more to my taste, even if it is wall paper! I do like the look of grass cloth but not in my house. The photos are stunning.

  32. Beverly

    Melissa, I was glad to see you stopped by my blog again.

    And yes, I love Alexandra Stoddard. She seems like such a gracious woman. I love not only her style, but her inner peace which comes through in every word she writes.

    I’m running late to work now, but I will definitely come back this evening to look for your interview experience. Thanks for letting me know.

  33. Polly

    Hi Melissa… in response about the magazine… Fifi posted this yesterday:
    The request should be done by regular mail and addressed to

    Harris Publications 1115 Broadway, 8th floor,
    New York, NY 10010, ATTENTION: Esther Andrews

    The request should be typed or printed and include both a phone number and an e-mail address so Esther can follow up.

    Hope that helps. Blessings… Polly

  34. Brittany

    Wallpaper’s a hot topic lately huh lol?

    Actually my living room is wallpapered. It was that way when we bought this house. It’s a neutral color with slight texture. It really adds some depth and character in my room. Amazingly, I like it. Normally I am not a huge fan of wallpaper because I’m lazy. I change my mind about wall colors like I change underwear lol! Removing old and applying new wall paper is just too much for me. So this will stay up until it starts peeling from the walls!!

    Great post!!

  35. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    Isn’t it amazing how wallpaper can literally change a room and give it such character? So many pretty ones here, too. I especially like the yellow and blue Martha Stewart one…and what a great idea to put old shaving mirrors on the mantel.

    I have to tell you that when we bought our home we stripped wallpaper in every single room. No wallpaper went back up in its place, either. What a job…could not live with purple and pink paisley walls.

    Another lovely post from the lovely Miss Melissa! Thank you!

  36. Kari

    Color me impressed, Melissa! :D LOVE the wallpaper idea…my fav has got to be the textures (grasscloth look) and papering the back of bookshelves! WOW, it’s wonderful!! I must admit to being afraid of wallpaper…hmm, but you’ve given me a different view on it. (when I have a house of my own, I am def willing to give it a shot!!)

    You are SO funny about American Idol! I will give you that Jason’s voice is clear and pure and he seems to be a really sweet guy! You go on ahead and cheer for him, girl!! Wonder if he is a Believer?? And yes, I love David C. …the combover can go though! ;)

    Have a wonderful day!!! I am so happy to have “met” you…how did that happen anyways??!! :D

  37. julia

    ooooh yeah! I think wallpaper is awesome too! Hmmm might have to consider popping that into my decorating scheme around here, paricularly that seagrass style! love it.
    thank you sweet Melissa…

  38. Aimee

    I typically don’t like wallpaper, but I love all the ones in the pictures you chose! It can really add texture and cool color/patterns!

  39. Diana

    I have a love/hate for wallpapers too, but there are some great, fresh ones out now versus several years ago.

  40. M&Co

    Thank you for your truly sweet comment over at my blog!
    Gosh I really like this post and your reflections on wallpapers. My favorite is the grasscloth look in Barclay Butera’s entryway! Beautiful!

  41. Melissa in Mel's World

    Ok Ok, I get it…I WILL give WALL PAPER A CHANCE!!! Seriously, if I could get my wall paper to be as beautiful as the ones you have shown and get it up (never fun) then I would run with it. I have the PERFECT spot in my kitchen for wallpaper.

    I think I just need the confidence to move forward with it and tkae a chance. DH is SO not handy or crafty, so it would be entirely up to me…eek, always scary!

    Thanks for the wallpaper ideas!

    Take Care,
    Melissa ;)

  42. Melissa in Mel's World

    Oh…PS – When are you coming to South Florida? (I know you are not scheduled to as of yet, but I thought I would throw it out there…ha!)

  43. snhamlett

    It’s so funny to me how certain ideas show up in the creative sphere at the same time… your post is about wall paper and my latest “In the Trenches” interview with Nina in Vorm features a lady who uses just a touch of wallpaper in different areas of her home to add a little POP of color. You should definitely check out her interview and flickr photos… she’s a little more mid-century modern than your style Melissa but she has the cleverest ideas, like creating a window treatment out of tea cups!



  44. Rachael

    Fabulous examples of great wallpaper. Happy belated Easter Melissa:) Rachael

  45. Shalom

    What beautiful wallpapers! I epecially like the pictures of them used as decorative accents, rather than on whole walls. Thanks for the great ideas.

  46. the farmers wife

    I love the look of some wallpapers, but I learned to hate it when I had to remove some badly outdated design. I was a horrible, insidious experience involving scrubbing the wall 1,000 times. Horrible, awful experience.

    So what I’ve done is to use paint and stencils, as you have mentioned. For my foyer I wanted a nice beige on beige stripe so I taped the wall and created the effect with paint. Infinitely much less work that stripping wallpaper.

  47. My Notting Hill

    Love this post – a real ode to the beauty of wallpaper


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