DEAR GAIL: When I walk through model homes I see that they are still using wallpaper. Is it still “in” or are they just using it to add more splash to the models? I am usually a do-it-yourself person and was also wondering if it would be something that I could hang myself. — Ruth N.
DEAR RUTH: I’m a believer that you shouldn’t decorate your home worrying about the design trends of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Just as in fashion, what once was “in” will then be “out” and at some point, back “in” again. The main thing is that you love it.
With that said, I love wallpaper and feel it is still a great wall treatment option. During the last 10 years, the wallpaper industry has come so far in producing gorgeous wallpaper for every room. It can give you a very detailed and intricate design that you can’t get with any other treatment, except for hiring a very expensive artist. This is one of the reasons we use it in model homes; it provides that additional splash or pizzazz. Next time you’re in a hotel, casino or high-end commercial building, look around and you’ll see lots of wallpaper.
If you want to keep from looking dated, check out the most recently introduced patterns. If you’re thinking of doing a whole room, stay away from anything that is too themed or trendy — although it is fun to use a themed paper in your kitchen.
A couple of my favorite places for wallpaper are the powder bath, master and guest bath, kitchen and nursery. I love doing bathrooms as they’re rooms that we don’t spend that much time in compared to the rest of the house. So, you won’t tire of the paper. Kitchens are always fun and, of course, nurseries because there are so many cute patterns. Plus, you’ll have a good three to four years before you have to change it.
If you don’t want to paper a whole room, then just paper the wall opposite the mirror in your guest and master baths. It doubles the effect. If you’d like to do a little paper in a bedroom, paper the headboard wall. In a kitchen, just paper the backsplash or the walls your cabinets are on.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re not papering a whole wall is the size of the pattern. You’ll want a smaller pattern so that you see enough of it.
Along with wallpaper you can still use borders. They’re good if you just want to add a little something extra. Now I will admit that they do have a bit more dated look, but they are perfect for kids’ rooms and even your kitchen.
You will be making a more significant investment with wallpaper than just paint, as wallpaper runs on average $30 per single roll. Wallpaper is priced by the single roll but is packaged in double rolls. You can purchase it by the single roll but you will be paying a significant cut charge to do so. So when you find a couple that you are considering, ask the wallpaper store to order you a memo sample. There will be a small charge for this, normally less than $5, but it will allow you to place a fairly large piece up on your wall to live with for a week or so.
As far as installing the paper yourself, if this is not your area of expertise, I would highly recommend hiring a licensed wallpaper installer to handle it for you. Unless you have just one straight wall with no tricky cuts, it is not as easy as it might seem. You’ll also want the installer to figure how much wallpaper you’ll need. Make sure that you provide the installer with how much square footage is on a single roll of the paper you’ll be using, the size of the pattern repeat and whether the pattern is a straight, random or drop match. Your wallpaper store can supply you with all of this information.
The cost to have the paper installed depends upon the type of paper and the complexity of the job; it averages $18 to $25 per single roll or spool. A spool is a wall border. Also most installers have a minimum setup charge around $75. This just means that if you have only two rolls of wallpaper to install, they are going to charge you their minimum fee versus, for example, $18 per roll or $36.
Remember there are no paper stretchers, so make sure your installer has enough to do the job properly. With each run, the printing of the wallpaper, the dye lot can change and then you may end up having to redo what’s already been hung. With wallpaper you are always better to have more than less. Plus, it’s always good to have some extra in case of any install mishaps or if any future repairs need to be done.
Before heading out to look at wallpaper, gather up any fabric, flooring and paint samples from the room and give yourself a couple of hours. There are hundreds of books and thousands of patterns to look through, so schedule an afternoon and not just an hour to find a wallpaper that you love. I guarantee that you’ll find more than one.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.