and breathtaking Birdcage Walk wallpaper by Nina Campbell sets
the stage in Kim Pollard’s Mequon master bathroom. Interior
designer Kelly Neumann of Vyolette Interior Design Consulting
transformed the 1980s teal and white color scheme to black,
gold and ruby red to play off the colors in the master
bedroom. "The wallpaper was actually one of the last
things we picked for the room," Neumann says. The vanity
top was replaced with polished Black Galaxy granite and honey
onyx vessel sinks, and the white vanity was stained with
layers of wood, black and metallic tones.
Wallpaper has gotten a bad wrap over
the years. The mini florals, tacky prints and cringe-worthy colors
that made their way onto the home design scene in the ’70s and ’80s
have most homeowners frightened to even say the word
"wallpaper." Can you blame them?
"The best way to sell wallpaper is
not even saying the ‘w’ word," says Kelly Neumann, owner of
Vyolette Interior Design Consulting in Milwaukee. "I get shut
down just about every time. The key is showing the samples for the
clients to see for themselves. I show them all of the beautiful
options, and they get hooked every time."
Finding the Hottest Trends
The land of wallpaper has grown and
expanded into on-trend prints and patterns, like damask and chandelier
motifs, and the colors are rich and bold. "The styles in
wallpaper are just as stylish as the clothing we buy," says
Neumann. "There are never-ending options — timeless,
contemporary, funky, you name it."
According to Mary Schaufelberger of
Steinkellner Decorating Center in Wauwatosa, some of the hottest
trends (see page 90) include embroidered dragonflies with metallic
threads; flocked damask on a subtle metallic ground (a modern twist on
a classic pattern); a hand-screened, textured, over-scaled leaf;
embellished papers (for example, Swarovski crystals); and grass
cloths, "which are beautiful alone, but are now being used as
grounds and printed on."
Neumann is also a fan of grass
wallpaper, which adds texture and an organic element to the space.
"Grass paper is like a tweed coat: It’s textured, sometimes a
medley of colors and timeless," she says. "My mother used it
in the ’70s in our dining room and I used it in my living room in
2009. I even wallpapered the ceiling to match."
Neumann and Tom Hoffmann of Tom Hoffman
Design, Milwaukee, also point to large-scale prints as a top pick.
"I mean large, flocked, glittered, actual fabric wallpaper.
Dimensional, vibrant deep colors, and interesting scenes or murals and
subtle textural patterns," says Neumann.
orchids pop on the walls of the powder room of Todd and Lisa
Wellman’s Brookfield home. Neumann chose the Audrey Hepburn
artwork for two reasons: it doesn’t compete with the
wallpaper and Lisa Wellman is a big Hepburn fan. The framed
print was a Mother’s Day gift for the room. Light fixtures
and accessories were inspired by the artwork, but the show
stopper is the wallpaper. "It says beauty," Neumann
Picking and Choosing
With so many wallpaper options
available, it’s hard to imagine how to choose the perfect paper for
your space. But expressing your personal taste, combined with the
style of the space, is a good place to start.
"The style of a home or room is
somewhat open to the interpretation of both the designer and the
homeowner," says Schaufelberger. "Unless it’s a glaring
conflict, like a small country floral print in a contemporary home.
But if the owner likes florals, there is probably a contemporary or
more modern version that would fit the space."
According to Schaufelberger, when
picking the perfect wallpaper for your space, there are two key
elements to keep in mind: scale and color.
"Most people would envision a
small print in a small room," she says. "Small prints are
usually busy, which results in the room feeling more ‘closed.’
Ideally, a large, open pattern will work the best in a small room.
Color is also accused of making a small room feel smaller. I think the
use of color adds warmth and comfort. If a room feels dark, it should
be a lighting issue, not a color issue."
Mixing and Matching
Whether it’s in fashion or home
design, people often struggle with mixing and matching colors and
patterns. But Neumann advises to think of wallpaper as any other art
element in the room, like a painting or an area rug.
"Wallpaper can be looked at two
ways: To add interest to an existing space or to be the starting point
of a color palette for the space," she says. "The colors
within the wallpaper can be drawn out for other products, materials
and accessories to be used in the room. It can also be used for that
‘final accessory’ in a basic room."
Hoffman advises to think outside the
box when incorporating wallpaper into a room. "Be creative. Don’t
be afraid to mix papers, patterns and colors, or just use paper as an
accent on one wall or just on the fireplace if it’s one that is
built out," he says.
Thibaut wallpaper depicting a Chinese fishing village in the
master bath of this Mequon home is a true conversation piece,
Neumann says. "The wallpaper enhanced the timeless stone
on the vanity and gave it the contrast it needed," she
says. "We picked out muted tones that were already in the
marble, but pumped up the colors to emphasize it even more. It
gave life to the whole room."
At the same time, he cautions to not go
overboard with several different patterns and colors in one space.
"I always think less is more when combining patterns,"
Hoffman says. "Make sure one pattern stands out and the others
all blend. Besides patterns you can use textures to complement
Keep in mind, wallpaper is solid, too.
"Maybe a bit of texture or sparkle is all you need? That doesn’t
make for a busy room, just an interesting one," says Neumann.
Schaufelberger advises that mixing and
matching prints always needs a color theme. "Then, you need to
mismatch the scale. For example, blue and white stripes will go with a
blue, white and green floral. Then, throw in a plaid for say, drapery,
which could incorporate blue, white, green and any other color,"
she says. "The way to mix match florals, for example, is to do a
large open print with a small tight print, and make sure that they are
within the same color palette."
Keeping an Open Mind
Once homeowners open themselves to the
world of wallpaper, say local experts, they never look back.
"People should be aware there are
amazing things happening with wallpaper. Once they start exploring
their options, I think they will be pleasantly surprised at what is
available to them," Schaufelberger says.
Neumann and Schaufelberger also stress
you don’t need to wallpaper an entire room. "One wall can make
a huge impact, and be a fresh way to incorporate wallpaper into the
design of a room," says Schaufelberger. "Particularly with
the design of modern homes not having traditional room layouts. For
example, the open factor of large homes sometimes does not allow for
an entire room to be wallpapered, but rather, lends itself to an
Designers also stress the versatility
of today’s wallpaper options, which now have crystals, printed
grasses, glass beads and more. The home design options are endless.
"This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper," says