Wallpaper making its way back to Midwest fashion, says wall design experts

Go bold with wallpaper

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After ripping down out-of-date wallpaper, most said “never again.” But it seems there’s been a change of heart.

Whether it’s due to Pinterest, Houzz or simply the cyclical nature of what’s in vogue, wallpaper is making a comeback.

“I keep hearing that it’s coming back, although slowly,” said Susan Katcher, owner of Blue Sky Interiors, a paint and wallpaper business in Cedar Rapids.

“The kind of wallpaper that everyone remembers is the little flowers and hearts and stuff like that and maybe that turns people off,” she said. But now, “there’s much more interesting patterns and prints.”

Although it’s “been slower to come to the Midwest,” and according to Marsha Lynch, a design consultant at Klinger paint in Cedar Rapids, the majority of Klinger’s sales still are in paint, but more and more people are turning to wallpaper to make a statement.

“It can be a fun decorative piece in a room,” she said. And styles have “changed a lot” from the traditional, “busy” patterns of the past.

Instead, “big geometric patterns or textured wallpaper” is the new go-to, said Amber Coberly, another Klinger consultant.

From simple patterns to metallic or suede, you’re sure to make a statement. But unlike the old days of covering entire walls, wallpaper is used as an accent, on just one wall or a small area.

“With one wall, you can get a lot of impact,” Lynch said. “It adds a lot of dimension to a room.”

“I think it’s beautiful,” Katcher said. “There are so many contemporary wallpapers out there now that can add interest without being too overbearing or overpowering.”

Still, “a lot of people are more fearful of tackling (wallpaper) than picking up a paintbrush, because they’re worried they’ll make a mistake,” said Amber Coberly, another Klinger consultant.

But wallpaper also can save a lot of time.

Instead of stenciling a pattern with paint, for example, wallpaper can be an “easier, quicker solution that doesn’t damage the wall if you do it right,” Coberly added.

Wallpaper has garnered a bad reputation for being a teardown terror if not applied correctly.

“I have taken nightmarish wallpaper down and it’s horrible,” Katcher said. “I can understand why people say they never want to deal with it again, but that doesn’t have to be true as long as the wall is prepared right.”

With 20 years of experience under her belt, she said she’s learned some “tricks,” like working with a wallpaper steamer and “sizing” the wall before getting started.

So before you give wallpaper a go, make sure you prime the wall properly, or perhaps have a professional do it for you.

After all, when fashion changes again — as it inevitably does — tearing down that accent wall won’t give you such a headache.

Ways to wallpaper

• Accent a wall or a small space: Go easy on the eyes and the budget by using a bold print in a small area.

• Texture it up: Add dimension to your walls with tastefully textured paper, like grass cloth, suede, faux brick or embossed designs.

• Be bold with geometric prints: Anything from chevron or lattice patterns to zigzags or horizontal stripes.

• Mess with metallics: Gold and silver accents give a little shine and shimmer.

• Simplify with small patterns: Want a little pizazz without the punch? Try a simple pattern with small polka dots or pinstripes, for example.

• Try temporary: Still not completely sure? Some papers come with a sticky adhesive backside that can be peeled off with ease, unlike paste of the past.

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