I recently received a question on selecting wallpaper, and since it’s one of my favorite parts of the design process, I thought I would share a post on my recent selections.
1. Start with color.
I have a Cat in the Hat sketch from the Dr. Seuss gallery in La Jolla. We obtained it when we went out for the first embryo transfer, at that point the embryo was a boy. We decided that regardless, we loved the piece and the bits of blue and red didn’t lend to a certain baby gender. So we went for it. Hanging the artwork in Sterling’s nursery, I struggled with how to tie in the colors since the piece is literally HUGE – about four feet long. I just threw every color in her nursery at our prior home, but since it is the centerpiece of her room, I wanted to give it another try for the new house. I focused on the blue, since I’m not much of a red person, then tried to find a feminine paper that was as close to the blue background as possible. I turned to the new textile collection of local artist Dorothy Shain, and she had the perfect match. Her Buttercups print is going to be perfect for S. Searching by color is also a great way to start looking for the perfect wallpaper.
2. Decide on the scale.
Is the print going to be large or small? A bigger print in a small space can trick the eye into making it feel larger, as long as you have enough room to repeat. You will want the paper to be able to repeat enough times to create the story. Know that tighter prints are going to look busier from far away, so if you already have a lot happening in the room, go for a bigger print. If the room is large, smaller prints can sometimes make you feel dizzy and the image will get lost.
3. Order samples.
Order samples, tape them on the wall, then live with it for a while. See if you fall in love with it more, or you’re starting to feel like you’re at your weird aunt’s house. Papers can have a different color or sheen in person that what they looked like on your computer screen, so be sure to see it in person before committing. Many companies, including Hermès, will not accept a return of cut wallpaper, and that’s a hefty price tag you don’t want to take on if you end up hating it.
4. Don’t go trendy.
Seen it a few times? Then find something different, because I assure you that once you put it on your walls, you will see it 100 times more often. Your home is unique to you, so find a paper that mixes in with your style and what you have throughout the house.
5. Stick to your theme.
What else is going on in your home? Pay attention to the theme you have throughout. If it’s French country, you probably don’t want to throw up a chinoiserie. If you’re minimal, a bright floral will not mix. Instead go for a muted graphic or a grasscloth. The print has to flow and make sense.
6. Look for opportunity.
I love adding wallpaper in smaller, unexpected spaces like behind bookcases or in the back of a wet bar. Just a small touch can make a huge impact. I also reserve smaller spaces for more expensive papers that I absolutely love but can’t drop a huge price tag on one room.
7. Go custom.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Try having the textile custom made, or have an artist just paint straight to the wall like we did with local artist Carrie Beth Waghorn in a past bathroom.
A few more of my favorite wallpaper sources: