Some would argue that wallpaper never went out of style; it just went out of business. When the recession hit, specialized wall covering stores closed up shop. The middle class just wasn’t interested in dropping the extra bucks for luxury redecorating when a twenty-five-dollar can of paint could do the trick. High-end dealers, however, never lost momentum, and I have been using it to capture just the right mood on my clients’ walls through the past couple of decades.
I have another theory of why wallpaper lost traction besides a stripped economy: Improper installment practices. Builders in the 70s and 80s threw up wallpaper without any prep work. Wallpaper directly applied to sheet rock equals a tedious project of peeling tiny pieces of paper off the wall, interspersed with brief moments of self-satisfying removal of body- sized sections. Correct application, as I have had to reassure my clients, is the key. With two layers between the paper and the dry wall – a primer and a clear prepper — wallpaper can be removed with ease and no damage done to the dry wall.
Why wallpaper? Well, like I said, with the simplicity of removal when properly installed, wallpaper will outlast paint by years. In fact, it’s so durable that you’ll get tired of it before it tires out. In addition, wallpaper these days is made with vinyl and can be washed off with ease.
Not so with paint! Paint shows watermarks, grime, grease, smudges and nicks. In bathrooms —where I highly recommend using paper — painted walls quickly stain with toothpaste, hairspray, and cleaning products. And if you have kids, forget it! Those little dirt mongers will ruin a wall sooner than it takes for you to decide that Summer Blossom Yellow is not as subtle as the name suggested.
Finally, wallpaper seems to be making a comeback, even with lower-end decorating. I do hate to be a classist snob (hate might be a bit strong,) but there it is. Even Joe Sixpack is starting to catch on. The July 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens features a home with wallpaper in every room. Everyone agrees, wallpaper is superior to paint as far as durability goes. In as far as decorating, the drama that a statement print adds is unmatched. And really, you can’t beat the smell of wallpaper glue. Now, go be fruitful and subdue the world with wallpaper.
In my next posting, I will give you some practical tips for using and choosing wallpaper, complements of moi and a little thing I like to call #RedemptiveDesign. For more decorating orthodoxy, please visit www.ericrossinteriors.com/blog.