Interior Designer Hits the Wall . . .Paper! A Wallpaper Update and Trend Forecast

Oh the poor wall. How’d it get all those terrible colloquial expressions? We all know that being “up against the wall” is never a good thing, nor is feeling “walled in.” I personally hate when I lose all my steam by 3pm and thus ‘hit the wall’ – and certainly none of us likes it when family or friend ‘drives us up the wall.’ And poor Humpty – that poor little non-hard-boiled fella just plain old fell off the wall. (One of the advantages to having a soft, non-rounded, and yes – aging, rear end..I will not roll off a wall. ) Still, what’s a dumpty to do?

I say….Paper The Wall! That’s a snappy happy tune when is comes to walls. Let us ‘scale that wall’ together! Peeps – lets talk wallpaper.

I spent a great morning at the Seabrook wallpaper manufacturing facility (owned by Wallquest). Here are some highlights to inform, educate and enlighten regarding the returning design material known as wallpaper!

We’ve been hearing that wallpaper is making a comeback . . . for 10 years now. But I believe the design pendulum is swinging…or has finally swung…and it really is back…in a fresh new way. We once saw ‘wallpaper, wallpaper, so help-me-wallpaper’ everywhere a designer could paste it in the 1990’s, (particularly in any possible cottage floral print…). The predictable reaction in the 2000’s was to strip it off, bare it all and paint-baby-paint. Throw in a little faux here and there for texture, but heaven forbid…wallpaper. Today – we’re seeing a return to what is now a ‘mixed use’ of paper and paint. Paper becomes the accent or highlight in a home – or room – not the signature key of the symphony.

Not convinced it’s right for you? Try these on . . .

Instant Non-Brainer Pizazz
Wallpaper is a great way to add instant panache to a space – rather than doing 4 walls if that’s just a little ‘too-too’ for you- now we are seeing the ‘feature’ wall in which 1 wall only in the room is papered, OR on a single wall, the paper is hung within a single obvious framed area on the wall. (I’m doing this now in a yummy lavender and cream guest bedroom suite…stay tuned..framing the king sized wrought iron bed the client already owns) Using paper in clever ways can be less expensive than faux finish, depending on the paper of course. For the uber-daring, you can also do alternate strips of paper – say 3 in total – separated by paint.

Worried about seams?
Don’t be. Companies like Seabrook bevel their edges which allows for an excellently buried seam.

Scared it will never come down?
Fear not. The hand of the paper-hanger will guide us. Your job (or your paper hangers job) is to remember to prime the wall for papering first. Use wall prep and in conjunction with the heavier papers of today – you should be fine. Using a liner can help – and proper prep will also help minimize expansion and contraction . . . thus also further putting a lid on those seams.

How’s it made?
Better than yesterday. Today’s papers are now made with a concern for breathabilty to create ‘safe environments.’ The process goes something like this:

*Artwork – purchased from Europe – or done in-house (Seabrook purchases
their art as they believe it gives them a larger and more varied library). Or
an antique wallpaper or antique fabric is purchased, studied and resurrected.

*Artwork is interpreted and scaled to ‘track well’ on a wall – thus it is assigned
a ‘repeat’ meaning – the way a pattern repeats itself vertically and
horizontally. Once approved by the staff designers. . .

*A prototype is sent to the coloring room to determine exact hues. Once
approved by the staff designers it is . . .

*Put into a digital format for printing…then it…

*Goes to print. Different print methods will yield different finished results…the Graveur printing press…all 200 running feet of it …. can do up to 10 colors and yields fine detail. Surface printing, which dates from the 1800’s, yields a heavier look, textured paper. It uses a roller that looks like it has a raised relief pattern sculpted into it. Rotary Screen printing gives us the papers with those rich, deep inks.

Are you still awake?? I’ll stop with the printing methods…but you get the point. Nothing is ever simple.

And so it goes. The amount of time it takes at Seabrook to go from concept to a shrink wrapped roll of paper ready for your wall? A year? No. Try 1 month. That’s what talent plus running presses 24 hours a day for 365 days a year will do for you.

By the way – evidently, the Brits are loving all things paper these days- from sexy textures and saturated tones to wonderful graphics. Traditional papers, reinterprited and made current and crisp for today’s market are always an elegant and true-blue choice. So don’t get ‘walled in’ as you consider your next design dilemma. The next time you want to put a little snap into your step…or into your walls’ step….try a little paper to shake up the mix.