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How to choose wallpaper

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

How to choose wallpaper is based on numerous decor and preference considerations

How to choose wallpaper is based on numerous decor and preference considerations

One reason homeowners like to use a wall covering is because it?s the best way to place pattern, color and texture on the walls in one fell swoop. However, figuring out how to choose wallpaper that is right for you and your home is a big challenge.

Trends in wall coverings do change. Twenty- to thirty years ago, the wall treatment of choice was patterned; then the trend changed to no color, pattern-free options. Once again, patterns have emerged as the decorating method choice — but the patterns aren?t as hectic as they were in previous years.

Homeowners are currently leaning toward tone-on-tone products that look similar to damask. Also popular are soft metallics that are easier on the eye than foil. Textured wall treatments are also in demand.

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When you choose paint, you are only selecting color; however, when you choose wallpaper you are choosing both a color and pattern, which makes the decision a bit harder.


Go to the home decorating store and thumb through their many sample catalogs. When you find something you like, ask if you can have a sample to take home. If shopping online, you can make the same request and a sample will be sent to you.

When you get an actual sample, you can see what it feels like and, of course, get a better look at the pattern, color, designs and texture.

You need to see the sample in the room where it is going to be used. How does it look in daylight or under artificial light? Does it complement or compete with your existing furniture and accessories?

Study the sample. Move it around the room. Tape it to the wall:

  • Do you like the color or is it not what you expected?
  • Is the pattern kind of busy?
  • Will it drive you nuts once you put it on a wall or paper an entire room with it?
  • Will it be distracting?
  • Will it make you dizzy or discombobulated?
This technique helps you visualize how the paper is going to look in the room when the room is completed.


Which room are you papering? If it?s a lovely bedroom that is soft and romantic opt for floral papers or dainty damasks in restrained, hushed colors.

If your family room is quite contemporary, consider making a bold geometric wall covering statement. Your accessories should be metallic and high gloss. This makes a confident decor splash. In a traditional room, striped and elaborate traditional options work well.

When a wall covering is destined for a room where there is a lot of roughhousing (e.g., kids? room) think about purchasing vinyl, because it?s durable. Vinyl is also good for the bathroom and kitchen because it resists moisture.

You don?t have to cover all four walls. You can choose to paper just one wall, making it the focal point of the room. A good way to create a stand-out wall is by using mica-, gloss- or metallic wallpaper, which is enchanting. Using the wall covering or border above a chair rail (wainscoting) is a nice look.

You can also opt for wall quotes instead of a full wall of paper. Choose a quote and coordinating image for a quick boost to any room without the labor involved in papering an entire room. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • Vertical patterns and stripes will make the ceiling seem higher
  • Horizontal patterns and stripes widen a room and lower the ceiling
  • Dark colors will make the room look smaller
  • Light color paper makes rooms look larger
If the room is small, you may want to avoid large patterns because this will make the room seem even smaller and perhaps claustrophobic.

You can choose either pre-pasted or un-pasted products. Most wall coverings are pre-pasted. You activate the paste by applying water to the back side or using a pre-paste activator. Peelable paper peels off easily but some of the paper backing remains on the wall.

If you have a wall that is damaged, consider using flocked designs, which consist of velvet patterns that are raised. Hemp, grass cloth and other cloth textures are good for covering walls that aren?t perfect.Most of these specialty products have laminated paper backs.

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