What do you think when you hear “wallpaper?”

If you immediately picture Grandma’s floral bedecked bathroom, it’s time for an update. Wallpaper is back in vogue with sophisticated, trendy looks that your grandma never dreamed of. There’s an explosion of incredible choices in textures, styles, and prints.

For an inside tour of the new world of wallpaper, we spoke to Mary-Adams Tartt. Mary-Adams was an interior designer for 15-20 years, doing projects for high-end residential firms. Recently, she switched to the sales side of Phillips Jeffries, a specialty wall covering company.

Mary-Adams shared her wisdom on how to choose the best wallcovering for your home. But, first, why pick wallpaper at all?

Why wallpaper?

“Paint is a safe choice,” begins Mary-Adams, “But wallpaper can add scale, drama, warmth, and sophistication. Wallpaper gives your home personality.”

From a design perspective, wallpaper opens endless possibilities, but it offers practical advantages, too. Wallpaper protects walls in high traffic areas like stairs, kitchens, and mudrooms. “That’s why you see wallpaper in hotels,” explains Mary-Adams. “It hides the scrapes and nicks from luggage carts or golf clubs.”


Pro tip: Wallpaper just one side of a room for a stunning accent wall.


Wallpaper can also hide imperfect walls. It may be easier and less expensive to install wallpaper than to repair plaster or drywall. And since wallpaper comes in all price points, starting at only $50 a roll, you can find a style that fits your budget.

Bedroom wallpaper

Figure 1: Wallpaper is a popular choice for hotel rooms.

Types of wallpaper

But before you look at style, you’ll need to understand the different types of wallpaper. Each has its best-case use:

  • Liner wallpaper isn’t a decorative product. It’s a thin paper that covers wall defects and is a base for other wallpapers or paint.
  • Prints are a common choice for bedrooms and other low-traffic, low-moisture areas. Besides the wide variety of commercially available prints, you can custom order digital murals and designs.
  • Vinyl wallpaper is today’s most popular wallpaper type. It’s made of a thin sheet of vinyl-or vinyl-coated paper-with a fabric backing. Because it’s durable, washable, and steam-resistant, you can confidently use it in high-traffic areas or even your kitchen and bathroom.
  • Grasscloth has a unique woven texture. It’s a classic, timeless option for living and dining rooms, but keep it away from water.

Bedroom wallpaper

Figure 2: Printed wallpaper works well in bedrooms.

Those are the basics, and there are many other specialty options such as foil, mylar, flocked, or fabric wallpapers. New on the scene are paper-backed fabrics with stain and water resistance. “You can have something that looks like suede but is 100% wipeable,” says Mary-Adams.


Pro tip: One of the biggest mistakes people make is using delicate wallpaper for a high-traffic area.


Besides considering how sturdy the wallpaper needs to be for a given space, you’ll need to take your budget into account. Textiles are generally more expensive than paper options, but custom, hand-painted papers sell for $800 a roll!

Choose your style

Now comes the fun part – choosing a print.

You may be coming in with a clear idea of what you want. But if not, Mary-Adams suggests asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is your trend tolerance? Unless you update your home frequently, you’re probably best off with a timeless look. Nothing is worse than a print that’s outdated next year.
  2. How bold and dominant do you want the wallpaper to be? “What is the wallpaper’s role? Is it the star of the show or a supporting character? Is it meant to make a statement or be soothing,” asks Mary-Adams.

Bedroom Wallpaper

Figure 3: The cactus print makes a bold statement on a bedroom wall.

  1.  What is the project’s scale? Big rooms can handle bold prints like murals and large patterns, although even then, you may want to limit the print to an accent wall. Small spaces do better with quieter patterns. Mary-Adams explains that overly busy patterns in a small space can make the room feel “frantic.”

Pro tip: Powder rooms can be an exception to the small room/small pattern rule. “Have fun and let the design be a surprise,” says Mary-Adams.


And even in a large home, you can’t use a wild pattern in every room. The eyes and mind need a place to rest. Keep the big picture flow of the house in mind when you make your selections.

Bringing it home

Once you pick your wallpaper, you’ll do the math to see how many rolls you need. Note how wide and long your wallpaper rolls are. Then, measure your room carefully and always round up. Many websites have yardage calculators, such as this calculator from Phillip Jeffries.

Most wallpapers come with installation instructions, but Mary-Adams recommends hiring a professional installer for best results. Especially if you’ve purchased a high-end product, you don’t want to take chances. “Today’s wallpapers come in so many amazing options, from dramatic prints and murals to simple, traditional papers. Invest in professional installation so you can enjoy your new look for years to come.”

Are you ready to upgrade and individualize your walls with wallpaper? Contact us, and let’s add some flair to your beautiful home.