Wallpaper: A Tradition of Well-Dressed Rooms
Beautiful walls have long been a part of the decorative history of the home. Whether it's the
ancient artist painting hieroglyphics on cave walls, the pioneer stenciling patterns inside a cabin or a
contemporary home adding the beauty and texture of wallpaper, we all share the universal urge to surround
ourselves with beauty, color and style.
Beautiful walls are decorated - never bare - and wallpaper is the perfect choice for the
best-dressed walls. Plain, painted and plastered walls are no matches for the beauty, durability and personality
wallpaper conveys. Whatever you want to convey, there is wallpaper to express it.
From restoring a vintage house to its original grandeur to making a stark, contemporary
dwelling more comfortable, today's wallpapers offer traditional elegance, country charm, or contemporary
sophistication - whatever look you desire. And thanks to modern technology, today's wallpapers are
durable, inexpensive and easy to install.
A new color scheme can dramatically enhance the beauty and livability of a room. Without
changing furniture, carpet or lighting, a fresh breath of color can transform an ordinary living space into a
most extraordinary home.
Color is a personal choice, so always base the colors in your home on the colors you enjoy and
that make you feel good. Don't worry if the colors you choose aren't "in," choose the colors that fit
your personal style.
If you aren't sure of which colors you like best or are looking for ways to use color
expressively, fashion and home magazines, wallpaper retailers, decorating centers or the home of a favorite friend
can all spark new ideas.
The most important fact to remember when decorating with color is that color makes a
profound impact on the mood of a room and also on the people in it. Choose colors that create the feeling
you want to create.
The Color Wheel
The color wheel is a common tool used in home decorating as it shows how colors are related.
Using the color wheel, we can define the basic terms of color, which include:
Accent Color - A contrasting hue used to add visual interest to a color scheme.
Color Scheme - A group of colors used to create a mood or effect.
Complementary Colors - Colors located opposite each other on the color wheel.
Contrasting Colors - Colors that have at least three colors between them on a color wheel.
Cool Colors - Blues, greens, purples and grays.
Desaturated Colors - Color made less brilliant by adding white.
Hue - A color.
Neutral Colors - Subtle variations of black, white
Primary Colors - Red, blue and yellow.
Related Colors - Two colors next to one another on
the color wheel.
Saturated Colors - Bright hues; color that is not
mixed with black, white or gray.
Secondary Colors - Colors formed by mixing two primary
colors together. These colors include orange, green and purple.
Shade - A darker hue variation created by adding black
Tint - A lighter hue variation created by adding white.
Warm Colors - Reds, oranges, browns and yellows.
Light colors create bright, airy looking rooms and can trick
the eye into making small spaces look bigger and ceilings appear higher. Since
light colors reflect the most light, they can brighten north-facing rooms,
dark hallways or rooms with little natural light. To further enhance the power
of light reflection, use wallpapers with a smooth texture or a light sheen.
To minimize the effect of light on walls, use textured papers that hold more
Light colors are also a good choice for rooms that have dramatic
carpet treatments or furnishings as the walls won't compete with furnishings.
Dark colors create intimate spaces. Because dark colors absorb
light, walls appear closer and make rooms look smaller and more intimate.
Dark colors are great for "quiet" rooms, like studies, home offices
and formal dining areas.
Dark colors also provide excellent camouflage. Too high walls,
uneven walls and heavy traffic areas all benefit from the hiding power of
darker wallpaper. As with light wallpaper, textured papers absorb even more
Dark walls tend to dominate a room, so they make fine companions
to light and bright colored carpets, furniture and accents.
Reds, browns, oranges and peaches are all defined as "warm"
colors. Intense shades create drama and excitement, while subdued hues create
warm, friendly spaces. Warm colors are often used in eating areas like breakfast
nooks and eat-in kitchens.
Why do we call these colors warm? Because research has shown
that warm colors in rooms actually make people feel warmer! As you might guess,
warm colors are popular in colder climates.
Blues, greens, purples and grays are "cool" colors.
Intense cool colors lend a fresh, dramatic appeal to a room, while softer
cool shades make rooms feel less confining - a perfect choice for bathrooms.
Use cool colors in west-facing rooms and other areas where
heat is a problem. Just as warm colors make us feel warm, cool colors make
us feel cooler. In very warm climates, entire homes dressed in cool colors
make the home more inviting.
Highly saturated with pigment, brights are not diluted with
black or white. Bright colors work best in active places - children's rooms
and recreation areas.
Because bright colors attract so much attention, they are
often used as an accent color against a light or dark background.
With less saturated pigment than bright colors, subdued colors
contain a mix of pigment with white, gray or black. Relaxing and restful,
these hues are frequently found in bedrooms and studies, and to create a soft
background for bathrooms and dressing areas.
Increase visual interest in a room with subdued wallpaper
by adding bright colored accents.
Building a Color Scheme
Most rooms design use one of the three basic color schemes:
Single color - uses one color
in varying shades. This color scheme is easy to develop and creates a restful
feeling in a room.
Related color - uses colors that
are next to each other on the color wheel, for example, green and blue. This
color scheme creates a quiet effect; light related colors are relaxing while
dark related colors are elegant and formal.
Complementary color - a mix of
two or three colors located across the color wheel from each other, like blue
and yellow. The most dramatic effects can be achieved using this color scheme.
Creating Moods with Color
Vivid - For a look that surprises the eye, opt for
a mix of bright colors and patterns.
Bold - High contrast, like a deep colored wallpaper
and light carpet, creates a bold impact. Big geometric designs and striped
wallpaper also heighten drama.
Tranquil - Peaceful rooms are created using
cool colors with little contrast. Soft, floral patterned wallpaper with matching
drapes and slipcovers create great sleeping rooms.
Cheerful - Light colors
with low contrast make rooms cheerful. Use minimal window treatments to make
the most of natural light
Formal - Classically detailed wallpaper patterns
mixed with rich colors and dark accent colors create formal settings.
Subtle - Subdued complementary colors create
peaceful, warm rooms. A popular combination for baby's room.
Natural - Earth tones with white and simple patterns
and textures give a room natural warmth.
Wallpaper adds visual interest by adding texture, pattern
and accent colors to a room. Certain patterns automatically create moods,
while other patterns create wonderful, subtle backdrops for carpets, furniture
While there are thousands of wallpapers to choose from, all
wallpaper patterns fall into one of four basic styles: geometric, large print,
small print and overall print.
Geometric patterns include plaids, stripes and grids. Large
patterns add excitement and drama while small patterns create a subdued effect.
Patterns with strong vertical lines make ceilings look higher.
Large Prints add the most visual interest to a room. They
can also make a room seem smaller and feel more intimate.
Overall Print form tight patterns. The eye blends the design
together, minimizing pattern and emphasizing color. Overall prints can be
used in any room.
Small Prints add a touch of pattern to the overall background
color, forming a subtle backdrop. This type of print is often used in kitchens,
bathrooms and other small spaces.
Mix Patterns Like a Pro
Even with all the pre-selected coordinates in today's wallpaper
sample books, there will be times when you will want to mix and match on your
own. To create your own decorating scheme, keep these two simple pattern points
in mind 1. Color and 2. Scale. Color should be alike, scale should not.
Special Effects with Wallpaper
Wallpaper not only adds color to a room but it can also create
added interest and solve decorating dilemmas. Wallpaper can manipulate spaces,
add or eliminate architectural detail, even be applied on objects besides
walls! Here are some of our favorite tips, tricks and special wallpaper applications.
(Watch this space, we come up with new ideas all the time!)
A proven method to decorate any room is to build the
décor around wallpaper. Chose the wallpaper you like and borrow colors
for the rest of the room; the background color could be used for woodwork,
a medium range color for carpeting, unique accent colors for throw and pillows.
A mix of colors can be incorporated into drapes and upholstery, following
the pattern mix guideline earlier in this section.
Pick a pattern and play it off solid coordinating
colors for sure-fire decorating success. This formula works particularly well
in traditional homes.
Look at the whole picture when planning. If you are
wallpapering a room that flows into another, make sure that the wallpapers
in each room flow together. Borders can also help coordinate adjoining rooms.
Personalize small spaces with wallpaper. Border a
mirror or window to give it visual importance. Extra wallpaper can be used
to cover lampshades, pots, wood furniture, screens - the only limit is your
Raise a low ceiling. Vertical stripes with an upward
thrust will make ceiling look higher. For an even more open look, keep the
Lower a high ceiling. Dark colored wallpaper can make
a room with a high ceiling feel more comfortable. A wide border around the
top edge of the wall with horizontal striped wallpaper also is effective.
Make a small room bigger. To stretch the look of your
living space use small and open patterns in light colors.
Make a small room look even bigger! Match the wallpaper
and the fabric coordinate all over the room with one solid color anchor. For
instance, wallpaper a bedroom and pick curtains and bedspreads identical to
the wallpaper while adding a solid color rug. There is no such thing as too
much of a good thing.
Make a large room more intimate. Rich, dark and large
patterned papers will bring large rooms down to size.
Hide a bumpy wall. All over patterns, extroverted
textures and matte wallpaper can minimize bumpy walls and architectural oddities.
Liven up a boring wall or room. Add architectural
interest with wallpapers that look like wood or marble borders, mural wallpaper
or add several patterns on one wall.
Remember the baby. Little ones are big on color and
pattern. Wallpaper the room with a neutral pattern and add a "baby"
border. When the child grows, change the border to correlate with their age
Add zest to a bookshelf. Wallpaper the inside of bookshelves
in mini prints to show off collections.
Be an artist - the easy way. Trompe l'oeil wallpaper
can create stunning patterns like creating "paintings", headboards,
picture frames, flowered trellis. It's almost like it's really there!
Create paneling. Who said paneling had to be made
of wood? Wallpapers and contrasting borders can create the most decorative
wall panels and add architectural interest to flat walls.
Cover your furniture. Toy chests, cabinets, dressers,
tables all get a lift from wallpaper.
Your only limit is your imagination (and your local wallcoverings
retailer or designer can help you with that!).
Decorating Dos and Don'ts
Decide on a budget at the beginning of you project.
If your funds are limited, decorate your rooms one at a time.
Buy items that will have the most pronounced effect
on the room first - like carpet, furniture and wallpaper. Accessories can
be added later.
Keep a scrapbook of decorating ideas, wallpaper samples,
colors schemes, etc.
Be sure to create a personalized room, not an imitation
of someone else's. Your personality should shine through, as well as your
Buy wallpaper, fabric and floor coverings for their
practical as well as decorative effect. Keep in mind kids, pets, lifestyle.
Make a ceiling the fifth wall of the room. Remember
walls can be one color or pattern, ceilings another.
To mix textures in a room, make sure there is a common
denominator, like a common color.
Fall for fads in style and design. You'll tire of
Buy products because they are a bargain. Always make
your furnishings an investment in the value of your home.
Fill every inch of space. Leave some breathing room
for favorite items to stand out.
Use too many similar textures in a room. They can
cancel each other out.
Be afraid to experiment with different colors, textures
and kinds of wallpapers.
Reprinted with permission, the Wallcoverings
Association (WA) copyright 1999.