Once upon a time, wallpaper was meant for your grandmother’s old sitting room and little else. But as the push to personalize spaces has increased over the last two decades—and technology has made printing more unexpected and interesting patterns on paper easier than ever—so have uses for even the most pattern-heavy wallpaper, from feminine florals to midcentury-inspired geometrical prints. The good news is that the trend toward including wallpaper works just as well for ornamentation-obsessed as commitment-shy décor fans—just take a look at these nine surprising ways to incorporate wallpaper in your home. Whether you’re looking for a small detail or a grand gesture, these off-the-wall ideas will make a magazine-worthy design statement your guests will be talking about for years to come.
Hot trend alert: If you want to make a statement that transcends traditional notions of depth and dimension, all you have to do is look up—to the ceiling, that is. The fifth wall is a great place to experiment with pattern (it remains out of direct eyesight but occasionally pops into focus) especially if the rest of the room stays somewhat simple to avoid any obvious clashing.
Love the look of wallpaper but can’t commit to a full accent wall? Try papering the back of a bookcase. The quick bursts of color and pattern have the same unexpected visual effect, but contrasting trim helps break them up so the look isn’t so monolithic. You can also try it on furniture, like the doors of a sideboard or the panels on a television console.
Give subway tile a rest and opt for a removable wallpaper that you can switch out whenever the mood strikes. Bold florals, whimsical flourishes, faux-tile—the world is your oyster. The look is especially impactful in all-white kitchens, where a vibrant backsplash—or perhaps the back of an island or counter—can tie in design elements from other rooms
Wallpaper can add personality to a stairway that feels one-note. Simply measure your risers and transpose them onto the back of the paper, then adhere using a brayer and an X-acto knife to trim the excess. How’s that for a little pep in your step?
If you want the look of a custom closet without the price tag, consider covering the walls or shelving (or both!) in something adventurous. After all, it’ll be hidden behind a door most of the time, so you might not get sick of it as quickly as you would in other spaces. You can apply the same concept inside desk, dresser, or kitchen drawers.
Waterproof wallpaper? It’s a thing. Try it in the shower in place of expensive mosaic tile, or above a chair rail for a quick infusion of color that will weather any humidity. After all, why should powder rooms have all the fun?
But not like you think. Instead of emblazoning walls uniformly, make a graphic statement on a pale wall by framing ornate paper panels as the backdrop to a living room vignette, or use a bold print to cover white mats for an artwork refresh that will have your guests wondering how they can steal the look for themselves.
Sure, it’s where some of your most boring housework gets done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it. You know what they say about a spoonful of sugar, whistling while you work, etc. Plus, the room’s small proportions put it on the level of a powder room when it comes to making a statement.
You know those random little walls that seem to throw a wrench in your best-laid design plans? We’re talking about that weird triangle under the stairs, that odd alcove off the bedroom, and that asymmetrical dip in the ceiling. Wallpaper can set you on your way to making those spaces work for you, whether it’s turning that triangle into a bar moment or carving out a small workspace in that little-used alcove.