Home & Garden
Just Roll With It
Yes, wallpaper is finally making a comeback.
By Joan Tupponce
There’s no middle of the road when it comes to wallpaper. People either love it or hate it. Those in the “love it” camp have discovered that today’s wallpaper isn’t the same as the wallpaper that adorned the walls of their grandparents’ home.
“Wallpaper has gone through a lot of transitions,” says Rick Holtz, owner of H.J. Holtz & Son, a painting and wallpapering company in Richmond. “Because of the way they can produce wallpaper in mass quantities, it’s better and more accessible to a lot of people. It’s more affordable to get nice wallpaper than it used to be.”
While wallpaper has always been popular with interior designers and decorators, it lost favor with homeowners for several years in the 1990s. But it’s making a comeback.
“There has been a resurgence lately because people don’t want flat walls anymore,” Holtz says. “They want texture.”
The most popular choices today are natural products such as grass cloth, linens and bamboo. Grass cloth contains actual grass, and bamboo has strands of bamboo wood interwoven into the wallpaper. “With the green movement, those types of wallpaper have been popular,” Holtz says, noting that the naturals come in more colors than they used to. “You can get it in pretty much any color you want, everything from dark blue to bright red. It gives more interest to the walls and provides a unique look.”
Grass cloth isn’t a new product. It has been around for a long time, says Robin Miklosovic, interior designer for Richmond Decorating, which has locations in Chesterfield and Henrico. “It should not be used in the kitchen or bathroom because it absorbs odors,” she says. “Also, it’s not pet-friendly.”
Approximately 90 percent of wallpapers today are vinyl coated. This type of wallpaper is durable and easy to clean, making it a good choice for bathrooms and kitchens or any high traffic area.
Other types of wallpaper include graphic wallpaper – digital images imprinted on wallpaper mostly for commercial use – and hand-painted scenic wallpaper. “Artisans hand paint patterns on rolls of wallpaper. Most are painted on a silk background,” Holtz explains. “It’s artwork. It’s top of the line, the most expensive you can get. It’s custom-made for your room. It looks like someone painted a mural on your wall.”
When it comes to the price of wallpaper, it can range from $20 for a single roll to $1,000 for one strip of paper. “There are different grades of grass cloth, and some of the grass cloths can be expensive, around $1,000 for a roll,” Holtz says.
People using wallpaper today are often going for a “wow” factor.
“We try to steer people away from whole house wallpapering,” says Emily Merza, assistant manager and store decorator for Sherwin-Williams in Short Pump. “We recommend wallpaper for showcase rooms like a formal living room or dining room. Wallpaper makes a statement. You get this fresh pop. It’s used like an accent.”
Floral designs are once again becoming popular. New designs have clean, crisp lines. “You may have traditional florals but have them in current colors,” Miklosovic says. “Sometimes floral or multicolor paper is the only way to marry all of your other solid colors together.”
She is also seeing renewed interest in Colonial-style florals with magnolias, dogwoods or a Jacobean motif. Geometric designs such as medallions are also popular choices. Many designers, such as HGTV personality David Bromstad, are getting into wallpaper.
“If you can imagine it, you can find it as wallpaper now,” Merza says. “I have even seen wallpaper with Swarovski crystal in it for about $500 a roll.”
There are several advantages to using wallpaper. It can hide imperfections such as cracks on the walls, and it lasts longer than paint. “It decorates a room without having to add a lot of artwork or window treatments,” Miklosovic says. “It can also add personality to a space.”
Disadvantages include cost – it’s more expensive than paint – and lack of flexibility. “You can’t change it as readily as you can paint,” Merza says. “You can’t just roll on another color. And it can get dated.”
One point that everyone agrees on is that wallpaper needs to be installed properly if you want it to last.
“There is no reason why wallpaper won’t last 20 to 30 years. You rarely have to replace it because it’s worn out,” Holtz says. “If it is hung properly and the wall is primed properly, there is not an issue of it coming off. It can be an issue when people don’t treat the wall properly before the wallpaper is hung.”
Miklosovic believes that wallpaper has gotten a bad rap because of poor installation. “It’s wonderful if it is installed correctly,” she said. “If you are paying the money for good wallpaper, have it professionally installed.”