What You Need to Know About Wallpaper


Actually, I could write a week’s worth of blog posts and then some about what you need to know about wallpaper. However, if you are considering decorating with wallpaper there are some critical pitfalls that if you don’t already know about, you could very well find yourself with a frustrating and (expensive) mess. So, please allow me to dive in here and get the nasty out-of-the-way before we get to the pretty pictures. What I’m going to try to do with these more informative posts is to put most of the photos on a separate post because not everyone wants to hang onto my every (pontificating – lol) word. :]

So, here’s the lecture part: (go and grab a cup of Jo— and a sandwich, maybe)

1. PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANG YOUR OWN WALLPAPER. Professional wallpaper hangers are exceedingly skilled technicians akin to a neurosurgeon. no exaggeration. I mean, would you attempt to repair your own slipped disk? Yes, I know… you read in wiki-e-how-d-i-y-boob-tube how easy it is to do it yourself. They are lying. It’s not even close to being easy and you may very well end up having to have someone redo the mess you make, thereby spending double what you should have, in the first place. There ARE tons of things you can do yourself, but hanging wallpaper is not amongst them. (unless you’ve had years of experience, training under a master-craftsman.)

2. DO NOT ORDER YOUR PAPER FROM AN 800 NUMBER.  One, you are not getting a good deal. Two, wallpaper comes in different size rolls and then there’s the issue of pattern repeats. I know lots of people who get stuck with nearly double the amount of paper that they need. Do not rely on the order taker on the other end of the line whose call is being recorded for “quality control purposes” to give a rat’s A about how much paper you order. She was hired yesterday and her unscrupulous, slimy boss has made it his mission in life to trick and deceive you into buying twice as much as you need because…… The paper is not returnable. Ever. (most fabric vendors will take back uncut fabric with a restocking fee of 20%, but you can beg, scream, threaten to sue, they never take back wallpaper.)

3.ONLY USE THE MOST EXPERIENCED HIGH, HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED PAPER HANGER YOU CAN FIND. Here’s why. I have a client who ordered from a decorating store, wallpaper from the esteemed English Company, Farrow and Ball. It’s English. The roll size is “funny.” (what we call a Euro roll). It is hand-screened, not the cheap machine cranked out stuff at your local paint or hardware store. Their papers retail for about $250 +/- per roll. They require trimming and if your walls are not in pristine shape, you absolutely must use a lining paper. And finally, these fragile papers require a special paste.

Here’s what happened: My client found some guys who would put up the paper cheap(ly) She needed 26 Euro rolls (which is about the equivalent of 49 American rolls). Days later, the paper started pulling away from the wall at the seams and now, 2 years later, it’s really bad. It’s a mess. It needs to be redone. $7,000 mistake. Don’t hang your own paper, don’t buy it online and only use the most experienced, skilled professionals who will guarantee the job. They cannot guarantee it however, against factors beyond their control such as water leaks behind the wall.

Okay, now that we have the nasty over with and you are (still) considering wallpaper, what next? Wallpaper is like a work of art, but it’s a big work of art, because it’s right in your face, literally, so here are some things to look out for.

1. style. Is your room traditional or contemporary? Do you want to retain those styles or do you want a counter-balance, such as a contemporary geometric in an otherwise traditional room?



Dude! What an amazing dining room, designed by Billy Cotton. I’m kinda in love with its freshness and the Chinoiserie paper from this new source, (to me, that is)

2. Scale. Super important. But one thing that never looks good is a small-scale floral in a large room. (well, almost never. In the aforementioned farmhouse, they proved me wrong!) That doesn’t mean that you have to do a small-scale in a small room. Small rooms look good with small to large scales as long as it’s not colossally large.

3. Contrast of patterns. Is it a subtle tone on tone or a vibrant print. A small space might feel too overwhelming with a too-vibrant print. Of course, if you want to feel overwhelmed, then go for it!

4. Color. Sometimes the wallpaper is a great jumping off point to starting a room, but it can also be added later.

5. Consider using wallpaper as an accent wall. (yes, I know what I said about accent walls, however, there ARE times when they are great and this is one of them, if done right.

Here’s a gorgeous bedroom by Laura Tutun where an accent wall is the perfect solution.

what you need to know about wallpaper

6. Don’t forget the ceiling!



Love this cool papered ceiling which totally makes this small powder room. Years ago, we did a gold leaf paper in a small bathroom and it was absolutely gorgeous!

Please stay tuned for many more photos exploring wallpaper styles, some of my favorite wallpapers and vendors and some enticing applications.




7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Dolores - August 23, 2015 - 8:01 PM

    Laurel 🙂 My husband is a Renaissance Man- he can do everything, including perfect wallpapering.Over the last decades, he had done the living room, dining room,kitchen,three bathrooms and the hall. One day I looked around and decided that I must have gone a little too crazy with papering over the house, so now it’s slowly all coming down..
    But all that lovely wallpaper helped disguise the fact that we had no money for good furniture when we moved into our house some 35 yrs ago..ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 23, 2015 - 11:19 PM

      Oh, that is so sweet Dolores and very unusual! How lucky you are!ReplyCancel