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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Allen Design Team

Wallpaper: The Rise and Fall, and Rise Again

This time, let’s be careful.

There's a reason wallpaper has been used so widely since its invention in 200. B.C. -- its ability to transform and personalize spaces and objects is powerful. Although there's been a fluctuation in its popularity over time, this superpower to transform spaces means we don't think it will ever permanently fall out of style. It has undoubtedly gone through highs and lows, but we think we've finally found the perfect ways to utilize one of the biggest fundamental elements of unique design - WALLPAPER!

Early Recreation of wallpaper
A reconstruction of an early English wallpaper with a pomegranate design, created by Hugo Goes, around 1509 (Credit: V&A)

Wallpaper is a design element that has an extremely long history -- it’s hard to believe humans started putting rice paper on walls 2,200 years ago during the Qin Dynasty. For real! This fascinating décor idea moved West, and as the centuries went by and technology advanced, so did a desire for distinct styles of wallpaper. This led to an introduction of different patterns, colors, and textures. The 20th century came with a BOOM and technological advances led to more durable materials and an easier application process, so it could be found in almost every American home!

Do you ever notice we tend to focus (or remember) negative feedback more than positive? Well, wallpaper tends to be remembered as horribly patterned, overly bold, and too busy… just overall cringe worthy. But don’t let that keep you away from it! We think wallpaper is something we all should embrace. Yes, seriously. The trick is to use wallpaper delicately to accentuate or change the feel of a space. You don’t want your whole house (yikes!) wallpapered; but do experiment with wallpaper on one wall or in a designated space. Wallpaper is a great way to add texture to a room! If you feel like an area is dull but don’t know what to do with it, an easy solution is a wallpapered accent wall… and it only takes an afternoon! Have a wall that has defects, scrapes, or is uneven? Perfect candidate for some good old-fashioned wallpaper! If you have a large room or open floor plan and want to differentiate space, using the pattern and texture that wallpaper offers can separate areas, making the space more inviting and useable.

From the top left to bottom right: Chasing Paper, "Modern Demask", F&P Interiors, Anemone Wallpaper, Apartment Therapy, Wallpaper: Hygge & West ‘Peonies, Photo by Emma Fiala, Live Free Creative Company - Wallpaper: Life of Lemons by WallsNeedLove, Kate Zaremba Company, Pinstripe Floral Black and White, Domino Magazine, photo by Alexandra Ribar

You can even use wallpaper on non-wall areas. BRILLIANT! Use it to spruce up the back of a dull bookcase or shelves. How about the risers on a staircase or the side of a kitchen island?! We've even seen furniture we loved with wallpaper on the front or sides - think dressers! You can choose a pattern (busy or minimal) and color (bright, neutral, dark) that will compliment your space’s aesthetic. Maybe you can’t decide on just one pattern, or the pattern you absolutely love is too bold for all over your walls? Buy a sample of it and mount it with a cute frame. If you've ever wondered how to use wallpaper, look no further!

Whenever we think of a project involving wallpaper, we're reminded of that I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel try to redecorate the apartment with striped wallpaper.

I Love Lucy Screenshot
"I Love Lucy," Redecorating, 1953, CBS

True to the show, the project ends up as a disaster, with the wallpaper going every which way and Lucy struggling to find the windows and doors she had wallpapered over. Fortunately for us in the 21st century, wallpaper has upped its game and the options truly are endless! Self-adhesive, pre-pasted, non-pasted, paper, vinyl, cloth, wood, textile, textured, paintable. There’s no stopping it! And this time around, we know what we’re doing. The beauty of wallpaper is its undeniable power to personalize a space, and that’s something we have seen throughout its long and influential past. History always repeats itself, and wallpaper is no exception!

As always, we appreciate any ideas, input, and feedback from our community and clients. So drop us a line in the comments below, chat with us on our Facebook page or email us at!

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