Wallpaper Woes


Interior Designer

Get unstuck from those wallpaper preconceptions

Remember the ’70s? It was the era of shag carpet, macramé hanging plant holders and wallpaper – bright, gaudy, psychedelic wallpaper that homeowners spent most of the 1980s trying to remove.

Wallpaper has come a long way since then. And if you can get past the preconceptions shaped by the wallpaper in your parents’ and grandparents’ homes, you’re sure to find a style, colour and pattern you like.

For those who didn’t grow up in wallpaper-plastered homes, the concept might seem like a novelty or a “cheat”….like using laminate flooring instead of real hardwood.

In truth, wallpaper has come into its own as a bona fide mainstay of serious home décor. And if you pay attention to some good advice about wallpaper selection and installation, you’ll see why it’s managed to make such a heroic comeback.

Don’t DIY. Don’t even DIWAF (Do-It-with-a-Friend).

The wallpapering chronicles are full of tragic tales of eager Do-It-Yourselfers staring sadly at their botched installations and wondering how it all went so very very wrong. Think of wallpaper as an investment. Like art. And leave the installation to an expert. (There are plenty of great ones to choose from. You just need to ask.)

Take a risk.

While wallpaper serves some practical functions (like preventing wall damage in high-traffic areas), it’s also rich in personality. It can be playful, fun, edgy, sophisticated, luxurious or grand. And it’s not just for bedroom headboard walls. You can use it in dining rooms, powder baths, kids’ bedrooms, living spaces and stairways. Or get even more creative and incorporate wallpaper patterns on ceilings, fireplaces and furniture pieces (such as behind shelves) or use it in a wainscoting setting.

Pick a pattern that suits the size of the room.

If you’re aiming to create impact on an oversized wall, a smaller print may go unnoticed Similarly, a bold pattern in a small space may overwhelm the senses. Choose wisely. A recent trend in wallpaper consists of huge murals depicting brick walls, graffiti, a world map and so on. In the right space, they’re “Wow!” In the wrong space, they’re “Whoa!”


The nature of wallpaper means seams are unavoidable. How visible they are depends both on the pattern and on the skills of the installer (another reason to leave it to the experts). Some patterns make seams relatively easy to conceal while others (like grasscloth) are far more noticeable. While commercial vinyl is much wider (and therefore has fewer seams), some installers shy away from it in smaller spaces as it’s difficult to maneuver.


Wallpaper comes in a multitude of textures – flocked, glitter, grasscloth, linen…the list is long. While texture is largely a matter of taste, highly textured wallpaper may not suit high-traffic areas or tough-to-clean spaces. Installing grasscloth in a powder bathroom, for example, may be inadvisable…especially behind the water closet. Wallpaper isn’t impermeable.


Wallpaper pricing varies substantially as it depends on the size of the wall, pattern repeat and width of the wallpaper. To ensure I order the right quantity, I often rely on my wallpaper reps and installers to double-check my calculations.

Beyond the material cost, you need to factor in the labour charge for installation A good rule of thumb: the price of labour is usually equal +/- the cost of materials.

Of course there are exceptions. One of my clients recently wallpapered a two-storey feature wall. We needed to bring in scaffolding for the installer to reach the top, which incurred additional costs and took some strategic planning to coordinate, but the result was absolutely stunning!

I’ve incorporated wallpaper into many client homes over the years, and the outcome has always been positive. Even reluctant clients become “wallpaper converts” when they see how it brings their living spaces to life!

If you’d like to discuss or explore the wallpaper possibilities, send me a message or give me a call!