Not your granny’s paper

Wallpaper is back in a big way

Remember your grandmother’s wallpaper with hanging monkeys, gigantic parrots and thousands of tiny pink flowers? It probably gave you nightmares.

Well, wallpaper is huge again, but not in your grandmother’s patterns.

“It’s more graphic, more textural. It’s timeless with an edge,” said Anne McCanless, an interior designer who loves wallpaper. “It hides blemishes and adds personality. It’s the best way to show who you are without spending a lot of money.”

That’s exactly why she used wallpaper on one wall in Lee and Kristen Carney’s very large dining room. The back wall of the dining room is one of the first things you see when you enter the home. Because it is such a big space, it would require a very large painting or at least a large artwork grouping, which few young couples have.

For a relatively small amount of money, McCanless used an understated graphic wallpaper to make the entire wall a painting.

“It draws your eye into the room,” the designer said.

Kristen Carney was thrilled with the results.

“I love it because it is clean and timeless. It’s light and airy, not dark and heavy,” she said.

One of McCanless’ favorite uses of wallpaper is in a powder room. These rooms are generally small and need some details to keep them from looking like little caves.

“They can give the room a completely different personality,” she said.

At the Carneys’ home, she took a child’s bathroom and converted it to a powder room just by changing the wallpaper to a formal graphic pattern in vinyl.

“Vinyls are fabulous for bathrooms that people shower in a lot,” McCanless said. “They are completely washable.”

Another favorite spot for wallpaper is a hall, where a small graphic can be the perfect background for black and white photos.

Wallpapers come in thousands of designs that range in price from moderate to quite expensive.

“The cost varies, but there is a way to make anything look expensive,” McCanless said.

“I had a budget and was able to stay in my budget,” Carney said.

Although clients have thousands of options, McCanless prefers wallpapers without a lot of color which “can be a little dated, and the client might get sick of it.”

Papers like grasscloth, flocked wallpaper, a modern flame stitch paper and cork are all extremely popular now.

“These new papers give you a contemporary feel in a traditional style,” she said.

However, as with all wallpapers, no style or pattern lasts forever. A short history of wallpaper by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum describes it as the “poor relation of the decorative arts because it is fragile, ephemeral and easy to replace.”

McCanless believes that when selecting wallpaper, the most important thing is to pick something that reflects the style of the client.

“I am blessed to have my own beautiful home,” she said. “I want my clients’ homes to reflect their style and the style of their family.”