Wake Up Your Walls

Wallpaper steps into the spotlight with irresistible designs, textures and colors.



Courtesy York Wallcoverings

If you were a homeowner back in the 1980s, you probably had wallpaper in almost every room. Then trends changed, the spotlight shifted, and the wallpaper came down. But as with every trend, fashion or style, it comes around again, and 2014 is the year for wallpaper to reclaim its place in the limelight.

Just ask Gina Shaw, vice president for new product development at York Wallcoverings, a Pennsylvania company that has been in business since 1895.  “We believe wallpaper is back and re-trending globally,” she says. “This is a very exciting time.” And that’s not just for manufacturers. The homeowner who goes shopping for wallcoverings is in for some very cool surprises, starting with geometric patterns.

Look for modern versions of chevrons, lattice, hexagons and pinpoint. “We are seeing geometric shapes in all different scales, from huge to small,” says Shaw. Digital printing has opened up opportunities for innovative designs that can be made as large and use as many colors as you choose. A larger scale pattern can actually make a room feel bigger, and geometrics go with almost anything—solids, stripes and other patterns.

Textured wallpaper has always had its tactile appeal, which is why grass cloth is back in a big way. With its woven surface of fibers ranging from sisal to jute to sea grass, it has a natural feel when you skim your hand across it. York does a version with knotted grass to add more interest and give it a raised surface. Look for sandy shades that blend together, as well as greens, rusty reds and an elegant charcoal version with silver metallic in the weave. Don’t be surprised to find wallpaper with a double dose of texture, such as embroidered dragonflies on crinkled paper.

Big bold prints are also making a statement. Oversized damask is one of the more popular patterns, showing up with ombre effects and flocked designs. Flowers in both abstract and traditional patterns are getting noticed; however, unlike floral wallpaper of the past, these versions kick it up with vibrant colors, using deep purple, cobalt blue and bright orchid.

Dazzling special effects have given wallcoverings a boost, with metallics playing a big part. Check out the lustrous mica chip-textured metallic paper, which resembles granite and has a slightly rough mineral texture. Most unusual is the use of Mylar. Shiny and reflective, it can be quite effective when used in patterns from geometrics to florals. The end result is a glamorous, ultra modern room.

As for colors in wallpaper, Shaw says keep your eye on blue—in shades from aqua to peacock. It’s being used as both a background and accent color in wallpaper designs.

When you’re ready to shop, head to Poe’s Fine Wallcoverings’ new showroom on Maguire Boulevard in Orlando, scheduled to open this spring. Owner David Poe has turned 9,000 square feet of space into an art gallery for wallpaper. It will be difficult to leave without a couple of rolls tucked under your arm. poeswallcoverings.com, yorkwall.com   

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