There are exactly one gazillion styles of wallpaper out there. Where do you start? For Week 4 of the One Room Challenge and my master bathroom refresh, I’m sharing all about how I, a first-timer, chose, shopped, and installed my wallpaper, and what I learned.
Choosing the wallpaper
Wallpaper feels like a pretty big commitment. Much more so than paint. I still have images of scary, dated wallpaper and feared I would quickly tire of my choice in wallpaper. Determined that it would still be a great design feature, I decided I was going to wallpaper not one, but TWO, of my bathrooms, the master and the guest bath. Here’s how I ended up with wallpaper that I love!
- I quickly got over the fear of choosing bad wallpaper. Today, there are SO many beautiful, wonderful, modern, and just lovely wallpaper prints, patterns, and colors. You will in fact be overwhelmed with joy when you see them you’ll want to put all of them on every wall in your house. At least I was.
- Don’t spend time looking at patterns and prints that don’t fit your design vision or it will be a slippery slope. It can be overwhelming once you start your search for the perfect wallpaper if you don’t have a good sense of your space’s design style and how the wallpaper is going to contribute to your space’s design. It’s a good idea to narrow in on the design style and aesthetic of your room that you are going for. Are you going for modern? Traditional? Minimalist? Glam? Extravagant? Graphic? Calming? Doing this helped me immediately eliminate whole genres of wallpaper prints. Based on the look I was going for in my master bath I focused on small repeat patterns that were classic but not too busy like damask prints or too traditional like chinoiserie. I also eliminated a lot of the mid-century modern looking or very graphic prints that were often too modern or masculine.
- Once I narrowed in on pattern style, I narrowed down my color palette. What colors are the rest of your room and furnishing going to be? Is the wallpaper going to be the only color statement in the room? Or do you want a tone-on-tone wallpaper to add subtle texture and interest in a room? Wallpaper prints almost all come in multiple color options. If you are able to pinpoint one or two colors of wallpaper your search will be much easier, because you can eliminate patterns that don’t come in your color palette.
Here are some of the patterns I was considering for both bathrooms. Greek key was a big contender! But I reminded myself I was looking for a pattern that would mimic a tile backsplash which was a big part of my inspiration. I also narrowed the color palette down to white and gray for the master bath and gold for the guest bath (future post).
My final choice for my master bathroom was this one*!
Choosing wallpaper for the first time definitely felt like process of elimination. Of course there may always be the chance you’ll come across an amazing pattern that you LOVE and are willing to redesign your room around it. If that is the case, go for it!
Shopping for wallpaper
Wallpaper shopping felt a bit antiquated to me. It consisted of bad online images and physical books. I shop online for almost everything nowadays. Wallpaper is really hard to shop online. I could get a sense of color and pattern from the images online. But here’s what I couldn’t get:
- Exact shades of colors which is important if you are matching paint or decor.
- The texture. A lot of wallpapers have texture that you may or may not like.
- The fine details of the prints and patterns such as if they are distressed or metallic.
- How small or large the pattern is. This will factor into how busy a pattern might look.
Because of this I wasn’t going to buy anything I didn’t see in person. I would recommend seeing it in person unless it is a very simple or straightforward print like stripes. Even then, it may look different once you get it in the room and hold it up to the wall. Are the stripes too narrow? Too wide? Is it too busy, too bold, not bold enough, and so on.
That said, I did start my search online. Here are the sources I looked at.
- Sherwin Williams – I knew that Sherwin Williams carried wallpaper and the paint stores had the wallpaper books in store that I could look at. So I started by browsing their wallpaper website. They do have a ton of options, but it is difficult to navigate and filter. The images are not good. I did get some ideas of big wallpaper brands and pricing.
- Wallpaper brands – I browsed the websites of large brands that focus on wallpaper such as Brewster, York, and Astek.
- Home decor brands – There are many home decor and specialty brands that have wallpaper. Some that I liked are Serena & Lily*, Kreme, Hygge & West, Caitlin Wilson, and Thibaut. There are also more and more great temporary wallpaper options for the non-committal. One that I love is Chasing Paper.
- Home decor e-shops – Like Wayfair*. I had no idea they would sell wallpaper* but they do!
Finally, with a good idea of what I was looking for, I was ready to see the books. I found a locally owned paint store that also carries wallpaper books. Try searching your area for locally owned paint and wallpaper shops. They are a good resource as well.
When I got there this is what I saw.
There were so many books I didn’t know how I was going to find what I was looking for! I just started flipping through books of brands I recognized. Each book is a collection. A collection usually has a theme such as Coastal, Bath, Graphic, Garden and so on. I focused on books that looked modern, and I actually came across several that I had seen online or fit what I was looking for. The store let me check out the books so I was able to take them home which was a huge help in deciding. I ended up purchasing the wallpaper online through Wayfair*.
Installing the wallpaper
I decided early on that I wasn’t going to try and hang the wallpaper myself because I’ve never done it before. I just didn’t have the time or energy this time to research how to do it. It was a good call, because when I brought in a pro to look at the spaces here is what I also learned:
- You need to start with a really smooth wall surface for wallpaper. If you have any texture on your walls there is a chance the texture will show through the wallpaper and appear bumpy. Texture could also affect the adhesive.
- There are two options to address this. One is to actually smooth out and eliminate the texture which would require a drywall person to come in. It sounded like a lot more work, money and mess than I was prepared for.
- The alternative is to first hang a paper liner and then hang the wallpaper over that. It’s not ideal because the texture could still show through, but I decided to go this route. It was going to be a lot less messy, my wallpaper installer could do it, and my wallpaper was patterned so I wasn’t as concerned with the texture showing. My installer also said the wallpaper I chose was thick and high quality stuff. (Probably explains the price!)
Overall, my first wallpaper experience was a lot less daunting than I would have thought. I just loved seeing all the beautiful prints and pattern options available. I’m glad I chose to hire a pro rather than try to hang it myself because it saved me time and stress. It does feel like a bigger commitment because it isn’t an inexpensive project. You have to account for the wallpaper material. If you have a pattern that needs to be matched at the seams you need to account for some waste of wallpaper. Here’s where the pro helps. You’ll also have to account for labor. I had the additional unexpected expense of priming and lining the walls, both materials and labor. All in, I would definitely do it again. I’m already thinking about what other rooms could use some wallpaper!
Here are some photos of the wallpaper installed. No wide shots yet so as not give it all away for the final reveal! (And also because I didn’t have time to clean up and the bathroom is chaos..I mean lived in.)
Do you have wallpaper in your home? What’s your experience with wallpaper? Any sources you like? Share below!
Update! Read about the project’s progress:
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