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  • (Photo: Brandon Barré)
  • (Photo: Brandon Barré | Silver grasscloth wallpaper: Candice Olson Paper)
  • (Photo: David Bagosy | Shimmer wallpaper: Crown Wallpaper)

Wallpaper, a popular decorative choice

Like it or not, wallpaper has always had the power to revamp a room more dramatically than paint. And today’s wallpaper comes in innovative textures, on-trend designs and some surprising new features: LED lights anyone?

One thing is for sure: this is not your grandmother’s wallpaper. In fact, you might walk into a room you admire and not even notice the wallpaper! Some of the trendiest choices have no pattern at all – just a very subtle texture. Whether you want to make a bold statement or simply whisper a room’s theme, wallpaper is once again becoming a popular decorating choice.

Getting graphic

Laura Stein, the award-winning designer and CEO of Laura Stein Interiors in Toronto, says there’s a stunning variety of wallpaper patterns available today. “There’s something for everyone,” says Stein. “But what’s popular this year are geometric shapes, strong graphic prints, and on the other end of the spectrum, extremely subtle patterns and textual papers, such as grass cloth.” Stein recommends Phillip Jeffries for hand-crafted, textured or grass-based wallpapers. His papers use innovative materials ranging from Japanese paper to gold leaf to raffia paper.

What distinguishes today’s patterns from those of the 70s? Size, for starters. A retro-feeling graphic print could be oversized for effect, says Stein, “making it just pop in a different, cleaner way.” Another trend for the year is to do an entire room in one pattern rather than the “accent wall” that was uber popular in the 90s and early 2000s.

“You’re seeing more entire rooms outfitted in the same pattern,” says Stein. “Wallpaper can make a room feel cozier.” Careful, though. It can get busy quickly – be sure you choose the right pattern for the room.

Go big or go home

Florals aren’t out of the question, but Stein says small, vine-like, flowery patterns feel outdated. “Today’s florals are big,” says Stein. “They are bold and oversized.” She notes that even some traditional damask patterns have come back into style, but are redone in either pastel colours or large print to make them seem new and fresh.

Floral borders are a no-no. A favourite '80s technique, floral wallpaper was often accompanied by a matching floral border, framing the paper as if it were art. “Borders are definitely out and never to come back, I think,” laughs Stein.

Don’t be surprised to see a number of floral patterns for 2015 fashioned in Pantone’s colour of the year – Marsala. Stein says that designers do pay attention to these announcements of  popular colours and wallpaper innovators tend to follow trends.

LED Wallpaper

Yes, it exists. Wallpaper outfitted with micro-bulbs just under the surface can make a wall literally sparkle. Ingo Maurer by Architects Paper can even choreograph a small lighting show. It’s also perfect to create a true starry night ceiling.

“I see LED wallpaper as a fad, not a trend,” says Stein who notes she has never used it for residential purposes. “It’s very glitzy and probably best used in a bar or lobby of a hotel. However, I suspect this is something that may come and go pretty quickly.” Stein says a similar effect can be created by the easily accessible Swarovski crystals wallpaper.

Reusable wallpaper?

Perhaps the biggest game-changer is temporary, reusable wallpaper. “It’s removable. You can take it down and pull it off like a decal. It’s actually reusable,” says Stein. And easy to install. If you make a mistake putting it up, you peel it off and try again. There’s no pressure to get it right the first time or to hire a wallpaper installer to do it. Tempaper Designs is leading the way here, with wonderful designs in phthalate and lead-free vinyl-coated paper that is FDA-approved. It also releases new prints weekly.

Looks like messy paste and water wallpaper may take its place beside floral borders and busy little prints as a part of ancient design history!