6 Expert Tips to Consider when Picking Aesthetic Wallpaper
Since the 16th century, wallpaper has been used as a paint alternative to decorate interiors of all types, from modest homes to palaces. What started as a way for middle-class merchants to mimic the painted panels of the aristocracy eventually became a mode of interior design for the masses and the monarchs.
Although wallpaper has gone in and out of fashion over the years, it’s made a massive comeback over the last couple of decades, thanks to advances like peel-and-stick wallpaper, textured designs, paintable wallpaper, and even opportunities to create your own custom prints and order them online.
When it comes to choosing the wallpaper that’s right for your space, there are several factors to consider, including:
- Wallpaper styles
- Wallpaper colors
- Plain or patterned wallpapers
- Large and small patterns
- Textured wallpapers
- Options to make rooms appear larger or smaller
Naturally, you’ll also need to consider the best placement for wallpaper and how to use it to create your preferred aesthetic or the right amount of impact in a room.
Finding the colors, patterns, and features that are going to best complement your home, existing décor, and your personal style can be overwhelming.
It all starts with understanding the architectural style of your structure, determining the style and mood you want, and considering the impact you want to have with your wallpaper. Whether you’re looking for understated elegance, timeless appeal, a trendy update, or a bold, high-impact pattern, you’re sure to find something you love.
With the right aesthetic wallpaper, you can create the look you want right now or one that will last for decades to come. Here are the expert tips that will put you on track to make an informed decision to meet your practical needs and your aesthetic preferences.
There are countless styles of wallpaper to choose from, whether you like a homey, country feel, the elegance of a Manhattan high rise, or a bold, edgy design suitable for a modern loft. With that being said, there are four main categories of wallpaper styles to consider.
Traditional design isn’t necessarily tied to a particular era or style, although if you want to narrow it down, European styles popular in the 18th and 19th centuries serve as a basic springboard.
With that being said, traditional wallpaper will have an aesthetic that feels timeless and lacks markers of any specific place. It won’t have much embellishment, as is more common to the formal style.
Modern interior design styles may lean formal or casual, but they tend to be sleek, simple, and clean. Modernist and minimalist design are often closely linked.
The formal style is generally characterized by traditional elements but with elegant, ornamental touches. A formal wallpaper will make the room feel rich and luxurious, typically while calling out other elements of the design, particularly architectural details.
If you’re going for a casual vibe, you’ll want to shoot for soothing colors, soft textures, and organic patterns. The wallpaper you choose should make your space feel laidback and livable.
Other Style Categories
There are dozens of subcategories of style to choose from, such as glamorous, feature-rich options like flocking or metallic embellishment; rustic, with natural colors and textures; country, with gingham, plaid, calico, or wildlife motifs; and Victorian, featuring ornate patterns, such as damask.
When you start to look into traditional, modern, formal, and casual options, you’ll find a whole world of styles to explore.
So how can you choose the right style for your home interior? You don’t necessarily have to base your selection on the architectural style. Modern design allows for all kinds of mix-and-match options to create the desired effect.
For example, you don’t necessarily have to pick a damask wallpaper just because you live in a Victorian house. You will have to be careful that you don’t create an obvious eyesore when you go off-brand, so to speak, but you’ll still have plenty of options when it comes to aesthetic wallpaper.
Carefully consider the existing décor, too. Chances are that you’re not going to chuck your furniture, artwork, rugs, and accessories every time you put up new paint or wallpaper, which means this design choice needs to work with existing style elements in your space.
The psychology of color is both simple and complex. On the one hand, certain colors evoke certain moods. It’s a big part of decorating your home with a feng shui focus.
Blues are generally considered to be calming, for example, while reds tend to stimulate passion and creativity. Have you ever walked into a bright yellow room and found yourself feeling brighter and happier? This is color psychology at work.
On the other hand, people are drawn to certain colors for a variety of complex reasons, and this can certainly influence what makes your house feel like home, and subsequently, your choice in aesthetic wallpaper.
You also have to consider your furniture and other elements of décor — you don’t necessarily want to pair a green couch with red wallpaper — unless you want your room to look like Christmas year-round!
That’s not all – you also need to give some thought to the historical, cultural, and geographic links behind certain colors or color pairings.
If you want to decorate in terra cotta and turquoise colors, you should know that it could give your dwelling a southwest feel, which might not work well with an ornate home. A white, pastel blue, and gold design is basically a shout-out to the elaborate Rococo style – maybe not ideal for a clean, modern home.
Choosing colors is a deeply personal undertaking, but if you want a look that will last, you need to at least be aware of the impressions your wallpaper creates, so you don’t unknowingly create the wrong one.
Patterned or Plain Wallpapers
Wallpaper is an ideal choice for adding texture and pattern to a room. Even plain samples that aren’t textured have a different feel than a smooth, painted wall, adding soft appeal to a room.
However, you may want to create enhanced visual interest in your space by picking a patterned wallpaper, and indeed, this is the very reason most people choose wallpaper over paint.
What pattern types are available to choose from? There’s a wide range to explore, including:
- Floral or botanical
- Animal print
- Mosaic tile
- Original artwork
Geometric prints offer attractive symmetry with grids of polygons, and in some cases, they can provide the illusion of three-dimensional shapes, such as cubes (Q*bert style). Floral and botanical prints could range from dainty, classic calico designs to organic, oversized blooms, tropical themes, or trendy bamboo.
Wildlife prints could be traditional or modern in style, while animal prints (leopard, tiger, zebra, or even snake) may range from realistic to bold, with bright colors standing in for natural ones.
Elaborate damask patterns offer a repeating theme with a lot of embellishment, while abstract designs tend to be just the opposite.
Mosaic tile wallpaper can be simple and small or large and ornate, depending on your preferences. Or you could choose a mural or tapestry style that covers an entire wall — or even an entire room — in a single depiction of a natural scene.
Finally, you might elect to create customized wallpaper, using original artwork to add a one-of-a-kind touch to your home interior.
With so many print ideas to choose from, your perfect aesthetic wallpaper is out there somewhere.
Large and Small Patterns
When it comes to aesthetic wallpaper, you certainly want to take personal preferences into account, but you also need to size your choice according to the stature of the room.
Consider the rule of thumb with jewelry. A slender, petite woman can’t necessarily get away with wearing bold, chunky earrings or necklaces – not without looking like the jewelry is wearing her. However, a taller, more statuesque woman will wear such items well and look natural and attractive doing it. It’s all a matter of accounting for stature.
When it comes to choosing a wallpaper pattern, you need to consider the size of your space, as well as what you hope to accomplish with your design choice.
Suppose that you have a small sitting room you want to adorn with an oversized floral or leaf pattern. The attention this will draw is sure to compete with other design elements and scream for attention.
This might be fine if the room is relatively bare and you want to take up a lot of visual space, but if you’re creating a cozy retreat with seating for guests, it can make the room feel suffocating, whereas a smaller pattern won’t hold such great visual weight.
What about using a small pattern in an expansive, airy room with high ceilings? Again, this could be okay if you want a barely-there pattern that recedes, but frankly, it won’t do much to add visual interest to the room. It will serve as more of a footnote in your design than a notable addition.
Here’s where you want to have the major impact of a big, bold pattern that takes full advantage of the available space to make a dramatic statement. If you’re struggling to size your pattern accordingly for your space, consider ordering a few samples and taping them up, then taking a step back to visualize how a completed look might appear.
Textured Wallpapers for Design Depth
Adding visual interest to your interior design with aesthetic wallpaper can take a variety of forms. We’ve already touched on color and pattern, so it’s time to turn our attention to texture.
One of the most common and desirable textured wallpaper designs is grasscloth or grassweave, which appears as long strands of dried grass laid out in horizontal strips.
This highly tactile surface not only offers understated visual texture, but it also creates minute shadows all down the wall that add a hint of depth. There’s a casual, organic appeal to this popular, textured wallpaper. Woven jute takes the look up a notch with larger-scale, grass-like fibers.
In some cases, texture is overlaid on a pattern. This could entail adding soft, velvety flocking to a damask pattern, perhaps offset against a shimmery, metallic background to create areas that alternately recede and stand out when lit. Or it could simply mean adding metallic highlights to a geometric or floral motif.
Texture can also be accomplished through embossing or physically raising the profile of the wallpaper at certain points, often in some kind of pattern. When the light hits it, the raised portions will create shadows that add to the dimensionality of your wall.
This type of wallpaper can imbue any room with subtle charm all on its own, even in white or off-white hues. However, some manufactures also offer embossed wallpaper that’s paintable, so you can add a color wash, highlight the embossing, or simply get creative with paint, metallic markers, or your medium of choice.
Textured wallpaper is sure to draw the eye, so you may want to use it sparingly, as on a focal, accent wall. It’s also a great choice for faux headboard walls. Many homeowners choose this option when they want to hide imperfections, like old plaster or walls that have suffered a lot of damage and repair over time.
Make Rooms Appear Smaller or Larger
Even if you like the large, open spaces in your home, you might not appreciate the cold, cavernous feeling they generate. You may want to find ways to make such rooms a bit cozier and more inviting with the right aesthetic wallpaper.
There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is by choosing dark or saturated colors, as opposed to light, bright, or pastel shades. You might also choose a bold, oversized pattern that swallows up visual space. Large floral, geometric, or even abstract prints will do the trick.
While each of these strategies will work well enough alone, pairing them enhances the overall effect. Dark colors and an expansive pattern together will practically pour into a room, making a large space feel like a comfortable refuge.
A large room can also benefit from a mural or tapestry-style wallpaper that transforms the entire space and imbues it with a narrative.
Alternatively, you might be looking for design options that help to make small rooms feel larger. This can be a little trickier – it’s always harder to make something out of nothing, but it’s not impossible.
As you may have guessed, you’ll want to take the opposite approach of those looking to make a large room more intimate. With a small room, you absolutely cannot get away with dark colors without creating a sense of claustrophobia. So unless you want to feel like you’re in a closet, choose something lighter.
Whites and off-whites are ideal, but pastels can work equally well. This is a case where simply softening the edges with plain wallpaper can really work to your advantage. If pattern is your heart’s desire, you’ll just have to choose with care.
When it comes to patterns in minimal spaces, less is more. The smaller the pattern, the less it will feel like it’s emerging into the space. Instead, it will recede, making the space seem larger. Repeated patterns like tone-on-tone stripes are a great option, while classics like pinstriping or a Swiss dot style could work equally well. Delicate floral or leaf patterns may also be workable, but again, try to keep color to a minimum.
There is one way to use a larger pattern, and that’s if you space it correctly, which is to say, you leave a lot of space between visual elements.
Perhaps you want giant gingko leaves or feathers to serenely decorate your small bedroom. Consider a widely spaced pattern with a white or cream background and the pattern in a shimmery metallic like gold or silver.
Remember, bouncing light can help to make a space feel larger, so choosing wallpaper with a metallic accent can be a real boon, as long as you don’t go overboard.
Where to Use Wallpaper
There are rooms in which you might not want to use wallpaper. Any room that suffers a lot of moisture, like bathrooms, may not be ideal, for example. However, you can put it pretty much anywhere else in the home.
When wallpaper first appeared, it was placed in the back of cupboards for decoration, and you can still use it this way today to draw the eye to bookcases or display cabinets.
Naturally, you can also use it to greater effect on walls – it’s called wallpaper for a reason! The real question is: should you cover an entire room or just create an accent wall with aesthetic wallpaper?
Again, it will depend largely on the impact you want to have. If you’re dealing with a small space, like a powder room, an accent wall behind the mirror emphasizes the directionality of the room and draws focus to the sink area and away from the toilet area – a subtle, psychological ploy.
An accent wall also works great if you want a faux headboard or you’re looking to create a focal point in a living room, for example. Accent walls don’t tend to work great in a space like a kitchen or dining room, where people are functionally bound to face different directions.
If you’re going to wallpaper an entire room, just stick to the principles already outlined, carefully considering the style and stature of the room, existing architecture and décor, and the ambiance you want the space to exude. This will help you choose a whole-room look that delivers the particular aesthetic you prefer.
A Room with a Viewpoint
Choosing the perfect aesthetic wallpaper for any given room in your home is never easy, with so many factors to consider. However, when you understand the power of color, pattern, texture, and the placement of wallpaper, you have the best opportunity to select the product that’s right for your home and your style sensibilities.