Raised brick, swaths of cork, bold butterflies that seem to flutter on the fabric. This isn’t your grandmother’s wallpaper. Modern designs and paper inventions are colorful, quirky and easy to apply, making wallpaper a DIYers dream.
Wallpaper died for decades, and now it’s back, said Noelle Kiyono, administrative assistant and showroom manager for Wallpaper Elegance, 5525 S. Valley View Blvd. She has worked in the design industry alongside her mother, Sharon Atkinson-Foi, since she was a child. Atkinson-Foi, president of Wallpaper Elegance, started her wallpaper design business in Las Vegas in the early ’90s.
“It’s totally different than it was years ago,” Kiyono said. “I think people are starting to really see how much wallpaper has changed and progressed, and it’s making it easier to let the average homeowner be more creative.”
Wallpaper began in Renaissance Europe as a way for average people to dress up their homes in the style of their wealthy contemporaries. The thick, sticky paper was one of the more popular wall treatment choices for centuries until the 1980s put the brakes on the staid designs and difficult applications of the medium.
But wallpaper is back, with some apologies. It’s no longer the monster makeover ordeal so many may remember, and millennials are lining up to cover their walls with the latest trends.
The big wallpaper trends for 2016 include the cork beaded, mica-inspired, 3-D and geometric patterns.
“It seems people are moving into more of the contemporary and eclectic side,” Kiyono said. “You still have your traditional home, but we’ve seen much more transitional themes this year.”
Florals have crept into the mainstream, a happy surprise for designers.
“When most people think of wallpaper, they think of their grandma’s old kitchen that had those little flowers all over the wallpaper, which was very vintage looking,” she said. “However, this year it seems they’ve revamped these old florals by making them larger, bolder and much more colorful.”
The trend of 3-D wallpapers gives the illusion of added depth.
“Whether it be a more realistic brick pattern or a fish-eye lens, these 3-D papers have really brought out a new look,” Kiyono said.
Digital prints and murals are making an impression, transforming a room from bland to deeply personal.
“People don’t realize you can custom print your own wallpaper,” Kiyono said. “We take high-resolution images and print them on a wallcovering and, voila, you have a custom mural that no one else will have.”
Neutrals continue to be popular. But they don’t have to be ’80s boring or ’50s pastel. The soft color brings in light, and it’s also a wallpaper choice that people tend to feel comfortable with as they step into the medium.
“It’s made it much easier for people to find a wallpaper to give their home that warm feeling,” she said.
New design technologies that bend to eco-friendly materials such as grass and recycled glass have made the medium stand out.
“The quality of wallpaper is better, and the amount of different looks has increased significantly,” Kiyono said. “I’ve worked in my mother’s shop since I was a kid, so I’ve seen paper of all sorts growing up.
“We’ve been reintroduced to flock paper (velvet or suede), micas, glass beads, brick, corks, metallic papers and grass cloths, which is another type of paper that we constantly find people asking for.”
The permanent glue and difficult removal made users turn away from wallpaper, but the showrooms are filling up with easier, better applications. It can be easier, faster and much more interesting than paint, Kiyono said.
“You can only do so much with paint but with wallpaper your ideas are endless,” Kiyono said. “It can add texture or be that pop of color in a room. Wallpaper allows you to really take a room from something simple to that of your own ideas.”
Millennials, many of whom are just now buying their first homes or expecting more from a rental space, are turning to wallpaper.
“Everyone wants their house to be the one that stands out over their friends,” Kiyono said. “When you see the kind of possibilities that are out there for wallpaper, your ideas are endless. The younger generation is spending more now to make their new home feel complete versus the older generations who are just trying to keep up with the times and making minimal changes.”
Social media sites such as Pinterest have fueled the wallpaper trend, from large, custom photo prints to peel-and-stick wood paper.
“DIYers see something on Pinterest or on HGTV and think, ‘This is perfect, I can do that myself,’ ” she said.
But be careful with your big dreams.
“Designers work off what their clients are feeling and what ideas they may have,” Kiyono said. “So as long as they have a general knowledge of what is out there, they can really turn it into a nice atmosphere.”
While wallpaper has become much easier to hang, if you want a major design change in your home using the latest wallpaper, you may want to hire a professional.
“We don’t recommend anyone hang wallpaper who has never done it,” Kiyono said. “But if you’re looking to save a few bucks, peel and stick papers are great for those renting or not looking to spend too much money.”
Peel-and-stick wallpaper has become a simple fix for updating rental spaces or new homes in a matter of minutes. Set designers Kate Szilagyi, Julia Biancella and Jennifer Matthews founded Tempaper as a design choice for walls and other design projects, such as refurnishing tables, cabinet backs and other household furniture. The sticky sheets can be applied to a wall, table, appliance or other bland furnishing and easily peeled off without damage to a wall or other surface, according to their product site, www.tempaperdesigns.com.
“Traditional wallpaper was predominantly used by a narrow demographic,” Szilagyi said. “With the introduction of Tempaper, wallpaper is now used by a wider audience, (such as) urbanites, renters, students, visual merchandising, and in the juvenile market.”
They have seen a few trends for 2016, including decorating with metallic colors, surface designs and florals.
“The surprise is the amount of exposure and how many more consumers are decorating with pattern these days,” Szilagyi said. “These trends are resonating with designers because of their availability.”
The trio created Tempaper so users could update their décor just once or seasonally, depending on their mood or location.
“Tempaper can be as permanent or as temporary as the consumer would like,” Szilagyi said. “It … allows customers to change their decor easily to keep up with trends. From renters to homeowners, DIYers (are) looking to design on a budget without the need to hire installers or contractors.”