Wallpaper is ready for its next act. The polarizing paint alternative and longtime decorating taboo has returned to fashion thanks to ultra-stylish prints, dimensional fabrics, and new materials that make it easy to install and, yes, to remove. Offering more drama than paint, it’s a fun way to transform a room and reflect your personal style without breaking the bank. Some designers even liken it to contemporary art for the mass market.
“It’s a risk,” said Kati Curtis, a designer with offices in New York and Los Angeles. “But, boy, can it pay off.”
What’s caused the big comeback? It’s easy to attribute the sales spike to style bloggers, HGTV and Instagram, but at the core of wallpaper’s new popularity is a hint of rebellion.
Curtis says the renewed interest is in part a backlash to the “sterile grays-whites-neutrals” of the ’90s and early aughts, and the more recent obsession with the layered rugs and clustered collectibles of the California bohemian aesthetic.
Wallcoverings offer a personal touch and less stuff. “People want their homes to feel special and unique,” she said. “Wallpaper is the perfect toy to do that with polish.”
Paulina Berberian, a creative director at Brewster Home Fashions, a wallcovering company, credits millennial consumers with driving the trend, as they’re new to the housing market and to wallpaper itself. “Young people who grew up in the clean, minimalism era have never had wallpaper,” she says. It’s likely they know it only as a design punchline, the busy ’80s florals popular with dentists and grandmas.
“So, naturally, I think they’re drawn to it because it feels new and exciting,” she said. “And they’re making it their own.”