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Wallpaper is back! Here, local design experts talk the trends and share their picks

Wallpaper is making a comeback

Fort Worth and Dallas designers showcase some of the hottest trends out there, including the marbleized look and nature-inspired prints.
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Fort Worth and Dallas designers showcase some of the hottest trends out there, including the marbleized look and nature-inspired prints.

Wallpaper is back, and with a fury. Actually, it never really left us, but suddenly there is an explosion of bold patterns, vivid colors and outside-the-box options.

Contemporary architecture is often the stomping ground for engaging or fascinating elements of design, and wallpaper is standing tall in both modern and traditional interiors today.

“Wallpaper is back and hot, hot, hot!!" says Brenda Blaylock, owner and lead designer of of Grandeur Design in Fort Worth. "It is the big statement in the room and gives a room its unique personality. Wallpapers are inspired by nature, history, technology, social trends and so much more. We personally love everything metallic and urban."

Distinctive materials and textures and impressive artistic direction are coming into play in more homes and businesses. Design companies are flying their creative flags higher than ever and this competition means more varied and breathtaking offerings like one-of-a-kind art found in wallpapers and murals.

“I am noticing that people are embracing color and intricate pattern again. The whole mid-century, pale palette craze was a bit overblown, and perhaps people are once again embracing more of a visual feast. After all, beautiful never goes out of style," says Jennifer Gracie, creative director of Gracie Studio, which is based in New York but has a showroom in the Dallas Design Center. Gracie has a history-rich, family-owned business that has been around since 1898.

Hand-painted, artistic wallpaper has always been a classic option, but it is showing up in many applications now.

“We are fortunate that for our 120 years, we have always had clients wanting the hand-painted, highly detailed designs we specialize in, and we are introducing several designs which are inspired by antique wallpapers from our archives, but we also have more modern adaptations with simpler color palettes,” says Gracie.

'Anything goes'

Wallpapering one focal-point wall can be very captivating and bold in a room, but some people want their walls to have one unified theme.

“I am seeing more and more interest in wall papers that create an entire scene going around the room. In the 1990s I had scenes like this hand-painted. Now, it is 100 percent wallpaper that I am using, with the wallpaper acting like a huge canvas of art enveloping a room,” says Kay Genua, owner of Kay Genua Designs in Fort Worth.

That's the delightful part about the wallpaper craze right now — there is sort of a liberating freedom to it all. It is almost safe to say that ‘anything goes’. You can find a floral paper that reminds you of the 1980s or find one of the most abstract prints you can imagine — it’s out there. And it’s OK to use them. The trick to pulling it all together is toning down your furniture, textiles and accents for the busier patterns and art.

There likely was a time when you cringed at the idea of textured wallpapers. But today, you don’t hear designers nixing them. Wallpaper heavy-hitters like F. Schumacher & Co. carry some incredible textured wallpaper options.

And you won’t hear that shiny, metallics are dated, because they are big right now.

One with nature

Metallics and textures aren't the only trends. Companies are looking to nature for design inspirations, too. Innovations is one of many wallpaper companies that are combining art with nature.

“Our Watercolor collection’s hyper-focus is on brushstrokes, on the process of making art and the fluidity of materials. [It] channels the waterfall paintings of Pat Steir [an American painter and printmaker],” says Victoria Mayer, marketing and merchandising coordinator for Innovations, which is based in New York, with a showroom in Dallas.

The captivating designs in collections from Calico Wallpaper also entwine with nature. Its Wabi collection features designs called Bloom, Lichen, Foam and Lotus. The newest collections are called Flora, Palette, and Sumi.

Many companies are channeling marblelike art in their wallpaper and mural designs. Mammoth marbled swirls can be found in Calico Wallpaper's Sumi line in a bold pattern called Tempest, and Olivia + Poppy, a wallpaper company in Houston, offers marbled-inspired patterns and murals.

Olivia + Poppy offers large-scale murals and offers clients the option to design their own papers.

Working with wallpaper

Be sure to inquire about lead times when you are working with designers or directly when ordering artful wall papers. They are worth the wait, but can take a little time to perfect. Wallpaper comes in a variety of sizes too, rather than one standard size like in the old days. Some have a wider width or come in mural-sized panels.

Many of today's wallpapers are also "greener," having refocused their manufacturing processes to respect the environment and protect consumer safety. Look for companies that provide PVC- & POA- (Olefin) free options. Many are leaving out plasticizers, phthalates, formaldehyde, chlorine, halogen and heavy metals. Some papers are “Class A" fire rated. This means that although they will certainly burn, they can possibly reduce how quickly a fire spreads.

Many wallpapers can contribute to LEED credits (some products say up to 6 LEED credits). When shopping for a wallpaper, ask for a specification sheet for a particular design and see what your wallpapers are made of and whether they will be earth-friendly.

Other options online

If you want to do some research on the Internet before committing to a wallpaper, there are quite a few artists with their own shops, and Etsy.com is seeing some unique entrepreneurs roll out their talents.

Sweet Pea Wall Design is just one of the wallpaper art shops out there that offer simple solutions to interior design, and some cater to those who can’t commit.

“Our wallpaper is a peel-and-stick material that comes off with a firm pull whenever you’re ready to take it down, leaving your wall just as before with no messy glue to scrape off. It's a total game-changer for renters and indecisive decorators,” says Emily Marotta of Sweet Pea Wall Design in Bristol, Tennessee. Her shop is on Etsy and she works with artistic printer Leo Cacatian.

Marotta says her products are "tackier" than other papers, and she means this in a totally good way.

“You don’t have to be concerned about it falling off the wall weeks or months later,” she says.

The paper is also washable and requires very little elbow grease to install, and prep work is minimal, Marotta says.

“Some who have worked extensively with traditional wallpaper find removable wallpaper to be slightly trickier to seam match when applying, but it's extremely easy to peel off the material and re-apply (many many times!) if you find you made a mistake aligning the seams between panels. To make the experience as easy as possible, we can create custom-sized panels to fit individual walls,” she explains.

Marotta contributes to some of her designs, but she also works with other artists in creating her company’s wallpaper and mural designs.

The Flora collection was created by Jessa Bray, a Florida mural artist and designer.

“The wallpaper gives the look of a hand-painted wall mural. It's one of our favorite offerings,” Marotta says.


Kay Genua Designs www.kaygenuadesigns.com

Grandeur Design Company www.grandeurdesign.com

Olivia + Poppy www.oliviaandpoppy.com

Gracie Studio www.graciestudio.com

Calico Wallpaper www.calicowallpaper.com

Innovations in Wallcoverings www.innovationsusa.com

F. Schumacher & Co. www.fschumacher.com

Sweet Pea Wall Design www.etsy.com/shop/SweetPeaWallDesign