Selecting the Perfect Wallpaper

geometric wallpaper in an office

 Simon / Stocksy

Once the road less taken, wallpapering has become increasingly common for the everyday homeowner. But if you're new to the world of wallpaper, you're probably wondering: What's the best way to maneuver through the seemingly endless selections to best express your individuality? And once you have the perfect rolls in hand, where should you go from there?

"Once you've made the commitment to wallpaper, there are a few style questions you need to answer," says Jennifer Sherlock from wallpaper house Graham & Brown. She offers the following tips.

Wallpaper to Match Room Style

First, consider the style of the room that you're decorating:

  • If it's romantic, try delicate damasks and florals with fine lines in muted, pastel colors.
  • If it's casual, faux finishes such as beadboard and stucco are simple, casual options. Pairing beadboard wallpaper with organic, flowing floral designs also makes for an at-home, relaxed feel.
  • If it's contemporary/fashion forward, consider bold geometrics with high gloss and metallic accents. Large-scale and bold florals also make a high-fashion statement this year.
  • If it's traditional, check out intricate damasks and stripes, which coordinate perfectly with traditional furnishings and decor.

How You Will Use Wallpaper in the Room

Next, figure out how you plan to use the wallpaper in the room. All styles don't work in the same way. Here are the various options:

  • Cover all four walls. A classic, simple stripe design hung horizontally on all four walls gives a fresh contemporary look. Large-scale and simple designs will not overwhelm a room but add a trendy twist.
  • Feature one wall. Choose a dramatic, bold pattern to highlight an area of a room, such as behind a sofa or bed. Designs with a hint of metallic, mica, or gloss will give a classy, glamorous touch.
  • Wallpaper with a chair rail. If you are working with a chair rail that divides a wall, it is easy to bring unique interest to it. For a classic look, try paintable beadboard wallpaper for under the chair rail. Above the chair rail, hang a large-scale floral or damask for an updated look. Another interesting way to work with a chair rail is to anchor the wall with a pattern below it, such as dramatic damask wallpaper, and paint a coordinating color above it. Adding wallpaper in this fashion creates a unique element of surprise not often seen in rooms.
  • Add interest to the ceiling. Get the look of tin ceilings with Graham & Brown's paintable squares. Painted in a classic metallic shade, you can easily achieve a Victorian-style tin ceiling look.

Backing Paper Choices

After determining the color and style of the pattern you want, it's best to look for what type of backing the wallpaper has. Wallpaper with a non-woven backing will be fully strippable when you desire a change.

Graham & Brown's non-woven patterns are also easy to apply with their "paste-the-wall" technology. "Paste-the-wall" uses non-woven backing paper that does not expand when it gets wet. As it doesn't need to soak, the paste can be applied directly to the wall, which cuts decorating time in half, compared to regular wallpapers.

Avoid Small Patterns

If you're wallpapering for the first time, avoid very small patterns with offset matches. For these, the designs can be difficult to match up in repeat.

Flat vs. Textured Patterns

Choosing a flat or textured design is all about personal style. In general, textured patterns give a more casual look to a room, whereas flat designs can make a wall more refined.

Textured wallpapers can give a wall some dimension and also do an excellent job of covering imperfections. Some textured wallpapers are paintable for a monochromatic look. The actual patterns of textured wallpapers are generally less detailed than a flat pattern.

With flat wallpapers, you have the options of fine detailing in design, and embellishments such as metallic, gloss, or mica effects. If you have imperfections in your walls, but prefer the look of flat wallpaper, using a wall liner as a base layer can give you the added coverage you need.

Determining How Much Wallpaper to Purchase

Follow this guide:

  1. Measure all walls and multiply the width by the height of each wall in feet.
  2. Add all measurements to yield the total square footage.
  3. Deduct for windows, doors, and other large openings.
  4. Check the roll label for how much square foot coverage the roll gives and ensure that the roll coverage is more than the total wall square footage.
  5. The general rule of thumb is to order one roll extra than what you need. It is best to get it at the same time as the original purchase to ensure the rolls are from the same product run so there is no variation in color. A consumer can ensure this by looking at the batch number. If the batch numbers are the same, then there will be no variation in color. The spare roll is to account for an offset match and mistakes. You can always return unused rolls if they go unused.

Double roll and single roll are industry terms; it is easier for the customer to determine how much wallpaper is needed by looking at the square foot coverage the roll gives.

Where to Buy Wallpaper

Your local design showroom carries pattern books where you can shop through actual samples in person (and many will even let you cut a sample to take home). Here are some great sources for affordable, quality paper online: