Printed or Textured, Subtle or Bold: Choosing the Right Wallpaper

With so many wallpaper designs available today, choosing the right wallpaper for your space can feel overwhelming


(Left) York Wallcoverings Stripes Resource Library Black / Gold All Lined Up Wallpaper and (Right) York Wallcoverings Stripes Resource Library Gray Swept Chevron Wallpaper

This is particularly so when choosing wallpaper for high-traffic, multi-use or frequently messy spaces like bathrooms, kitchens and home offices. Bold, dynamic wallpaper prints might be best for a social space like the living room or family room. Conversely, small patterns might be more suitable for a quiet or work space like a yoga room or home office. Wallpaper shoppers should keep in mind that while our guidelines can help in choosing a stunning, long-lasting wallpaper that matches the square footage and style of your home, design is subjective. The perfect wallpaper for your space might be one that can loudly "make a room" while the perfect wallpaper for another person's home might be subtle, peaceful and unobtrusive. Follow us as we discuss which types of wallpapers are best for high-traffic areas, which are in for 2021 and which make a small space feel bigger. We will also review peel-and-stick or removable wallpapers and how appropriate they are for the walls of rentals.

Answering Your FAQs About How to Choose the Right Wallpaper

1) What Should I Avoid When Choosing Wallpaper?

Interior designers and decorators recommend considering your own style and asking for samples of designs you like when picking wallpaper. While floral wall papers with feminine patterns have been the norm — and in decades past, the only options — modern wall papers are available in dozens of coatings, textures and designs. Some are boldly colored and appear almost like wall paint. Others are subtle, with a slight sheen or minimal texture that is barely discernible by the naked eye. In fact, notes Tamara Kelly in her article "What NOT to do when choosing wallpaper – 10 expert tips" for Ideal Home, "plain wallpaper is a great alternative to paint – which can tend to show the dirt more easily than wallpaper." When wallpaper choosing, buyers should follow Kelly's tips and avoid making simple mistakes. Buyers should not paper over cracks and should always read all preparation and application directions. Though they should be practical, buyers should not pigeon-hole themselves creatively. Wall coverings can safely be applied in unconventional areas like humid spaces and even on ceilings.

2) What type of wallpaper is best for bathrooms, laundries and kitchens?

Wall coverings — whether they be cloth, paper or vinyl — can be used in virtually any room of the home, even humid or high-traffic areas like bathrooms, laundries and kitchens. Experts recommend avoiding natural grass and other organic materials when picking a wallpaper for these spaces, particularly if they will be in the "splash zone" of diners, drinkers or shower-takers. However, if the room has a dado or paneling along the bottom portion of the wall, even natural grass wall coverings can be used in high-traffic areas.

York Wallcoverings Simply Farmhouse Black Market Stripe Wallpaper from LuxeDecor

For humid or messy rooms, experts recommend wipeable or easily cleaned papers. In her article "5 Smart Ways to Use Wallpaper in Your Bathroom" for The Spruce, Coral Nafie recommends opting for "'splashproof wallpaper'" in bathrooms, kitchens and even nurseries where there may be spills or changes in humidity. She writes that "this type of wallpaper is specifically designed for high humidity areas and is even wipeable, should anything get on it." To avoid spills on specialty wall coverings in laundry rooms, dining rooms or breakfast nooks, users may choose to paper the ceiling instead of the walls.

3) What wallpaper is in for 2021?

For 2021, we love metallic wallpapers that reflect light, grasscloth wallpapers that add texture and floral papers in bold colors and large scale prints. Large scale floral print wall paper fits in with the maximalist, eclectic and grand millennial trends already incredibly popular in 2021. We love vintage color palettes for floral wallpaper, as it adds depth, intrigue and a bit of an old-world feel. Our favorite floral printed wall paper from LuxeDecor is the Brewster Home Fashions A-street Prints Astrid Navy Floral Wallpaper. It is fun, feminine and graphic — offering something for everyone! Metallic wallpapers are ideal for small spaces, as they easily reflect light around a room, thus visually expanding the space.

We love the Brewster Home Fashions A-street Prints Astrid Navy Floral Wallpaper, the York Wallcoverings Mixed Materials Navy / Silver Marble Chevron and the Brewster Home Fashions A-street Prints Shandong Chocolate Grasscloth Wallpaper from Luxe Decor.

For a metallic wallpaper with a sophisticated pattern that makes your room look larger and feel more elevated, we love the York Wallcoverings Mixed Materials Navy / Silver Marble Chevron. While grasscloth wallpapers can be difficult to clean, they add an air of organic glamour to any space, particularly when chosen in a darker shade. Choose Brewster Home Fashions A-street Prints Shandong Chocolate Grasscloth Wallpaper for a stunning design that truly makes an impact in any room, no matter how small. This grasscloth design would look perfect in a cramped room with a vaulted ceiling such as a foyer or entryway.

4) Should I wallpaper the whole room or just one wall?

Though a number of designers and decorators proclaimed in 2020 that accent walls were out of style for good, many others have proclaimed the trend evergreen and unlikely to go anywhere. Accent walls have been created in past years in different ways. In 2019, accent walls were represented by a series of black and white photographs or unusual paintings hung gallery-style. In 2015, they were color-blocked in bold jewel toned paint. As maximalism pushes minimalism away, more homeowners and designers have begun to welcome both wallpapered accent walls and entire rooms wallpapered from floor to ceiling back into style.

We love the York Wallcoverings Outdoors In Bright Green Tropical Oasis Stripe Wallpaper, Brewster Home Fashions A-street Prints Quake Taupe Abstract Stripe Wallpaper, and York Wallcoverings Stripes Resource Library Green Social Club Stripe Wallpaper.

In truth, one cannot really go wrong when choosing to paper a room in their home. This year, more is more for many of us, as we search for ways to add more personality to our spaces. Alicia Bunker explains in her article "The Kardashians' Go-To Designer Shares His Top Tips for Decorating with Wallpaper" for Architectural Digest. Quoting interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, she writes "'wallpaper is one of the most maximum-impact moments you can create in decorating today [as it] really converts a blah room into something magical.'"

5) Which wallpaper makes a room look bigger?

There are a few design tips to consider when picking a wallpaper design with the intention of making a room feel bigger. One design tip is to choose metallic or reflective wall papers for areas that either border or stand opposite windows. These types of wall coverings will bounce light around the room and make the space feel large and airy. Another option is to go with an interesting pattern that encourages the eye to travel around the room, thereby making it seem larger by optical illusion. Vertically oriented wall coverings — like striped papers — pull the eye upwards and can make the ceiling seem higher, thereby expanding the space.

We love the York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Artful Prints & Patterns White On Navy Pick-Up Sticks Wallpaper.

In her article "Designers Reveal How to Pack Big Style Into a Small Space" for MyDomain, Jillian Knox Finley encourages buyers not to be discouraged by the square footage of their spaces. Instead, homeowners and renters should make the most of their smaller homes by using bright colors and using fun patterns. Quoting designer Shanan Campanaro, Finley writes that "'a small space is a great opportunity to let loose with color, pattern, and wild fixtures because it is contained.'" For smaller spaces, we love the subtle herringbone print of LuxeDecor's York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Artful Prints & Patterns White On Navy Pick-Up Sticks Wallpaper.

6) Does removable wallpaper really work for apartments?

In the past, wallpaper was relegated solely for those who owned their homes as it was too difficult to cleanly remove from the painted walls of rental units. Today, however, there are a number of removable — and sometimes even reusable — wallpaper designs available on the market. Most of these removable wallpapers come in the form of peel-and-stick wallpaper. Jessica Bennett explains how peel-and-stick wallpapers can be applied without harming one’s walls in her article “How to Apply Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper for Long-Lasting Results” for Better Homes & Gardens. Bennett writes that “temporary wallpaper is easy to hang” and can “achieve a professional-looking finish” even when applied by an amateur if the proper tools are used.

We love the York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Grey Willow Wallpaper, the York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Baby Blue Handloom and the York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Black Cross Stitch Wall paper.

Peel-and-stick temporary wallpaper is great for beginners and renters alike because its “self-adhesive backing doesn't require any messy paste, and if you make a mistake while applying, you can simply pull it off and start over.” To apply, prep the walls by lightly cleaning with a sponge, turning off the power or covering outlets and marking where you hope to paste the wallpaper. Apply the wallpaper slowly from top to bottom in small amounts, removing the backing and smoothing as you go. To remove, pull from the top corner and angle downwards, pulling slowly and carefully until the wallpaper separates completely from the wall. Our favorite removable wallpapers from LuxeDecor include York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Grey Willow Wallpaper, which is perfect for larger spaces like dining rooms and living rooms. We also love York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Baby Blue Handloom, with its light, gentle print in a small scale stripe. Match a striped paper with other striped pieces — like pillows and upholstery — for a space that looks put together but is easy to create and maintain. Lastly, we adore York Wallcoverings Magnolia Home Peel & Stick Black Cross Stitch Wall paper. With its small print, the latter is perfect for smaller spaces like the interior of laundry rooms, bathrooms and nurseries.