August 26, 2019

Dwell: Trend Report: What’s Up with Wallpaper?

Suddenly, bold patterns are everywhere. But do they have a place in the modern home? We asked a Brooklyn design writer who knows a thing or two about the dos and dont’s of decor.

Step into any home’s powder room today and chances are good that you’ll encounter bedecked walls that you’ll either find tasteful or tawdry: Wallpaper is back, friends. And it’s not just for trad manses and country-fresh farmhouses. In modern and contemporary spaces–where minimalism once ruled–designers are warming to the idea of wallcoverings, particularly in powder rooms and guests baths.

No less a source than Pinterest has reported a 401 percent increase in searches for “bold print wallpaper” so far this year. It’s the opposite of the reverence for honestly expressed building materials, fetish for Scandinavian simplicity, and preference for paint that has dominated for more than a decade. So, is it sacrilege to ornament architecture with wallpaper? It’s worthy of exploring.

In some cases, wallpaper is practical. Consider historic homes where there are restrictions on radical structural changes–even if they previously underwent disastrous interventions. In my neck of the woods, Brooklyn, there are a number of historic districts with homes plagued by awkward, outdated floor plans and appendages, oddly shaped and tight spaces, or windowless and subgrade dungeons. Architects and designers are modernizing these to a degree, attempting to respect and preserve the original turn-of-the-century design intent. This is where, just like bold paint color, wallpaper can make a huge impact.

…Like paint color or a shift in material palette, wallcoverings can accentuate a nook, create a focal point, or inject character, softness, or a pop of color into a super-minimalist–sometimes too spartan–space. This Manhattan pied-√†-terre would resemble any other New York City cookie-cutter abode were it not for a striking headboard wall, courtesy of Calico Wallpaper.