Whether you want to cover a wall, a piece of furniture, your cabinets or even stair risers, wallpaper is always in style. From Renaissance time where decorative wood stamping was popular, through the reign of Queen Anne where wallpaper was so popular it was taxed, to the modern colors and surfaces of today, wall coverings are an easy and dramatic method of adding color, pattern and texture to interior walls.
I often scour the paint shops and design showrooms for cast off wallpapers since there are so many great ways to use them. In a client's 100 year old home in NY, covering the stair risers was the perfect way to update and repair them without putting in a new staircase.
An old bookcase or shelves can get a fabulous facelift in hours by adding wallpaper to the back. My first apartment in NYC had ugly painted plywood shelves, likely done by another tenant. A few hours of labor and I had a work of art.
If you want to accent cabinets or a door, consider highlighting the panel with a pretty pattern. You can even transform a flat no-panel door using architectural wallpaper.
Using wallpaper as wainscoting makes a great statement in an entry or stairway. You can add a rail molding if you like, and even add another pattern above it.
If you're using it on the walls, consider the following types and patterns:
Entryway: If cleaning is a challenge for kids and pets, non-wovens (made of synthetic and paper fibers) and vinyls (plastic laminated to fabric or paper backing) are good choices. If not, grasscloth (Real grass woven onto paper or fabric) is elegant and beautiful. Here a bold pattern and lots of architectural detail can be striking. This space sets the tone for the rest of the house so you can be creative too.
Dining: Almost any type of paper (the original which can also come coated with this vinyl or acrylic film for durability) works unless you dine often with children and your chairs are close to the walls! I love using it above a chair rail since it creates a fabulous design element. Traditional wallpapers work well in classic homes, and smaller scales work well so they don't overwhelm. Embossed papers add texture and pattern and are great for uneven wall surfaces.
Kitchen: Vinyl is more durable than paper and stands up to moisture and cleaning. Solids and neutrals are excellent choices so they add detail but don't detract from cabinetry and tile choices.
Bathrooms: Again, a vinyl or non-woven is a good choice for moist areas. Using a fan is still a great option. Bolder patterns are OK even in a small space since it won't seem overwhelming and can even make the space seem larger.
Bedroom: Subtle and neutral are best choices for a restful space. Grasscloth has nice options and flocked and embossed wallpaper is serene and soft.