Politics aside, it’s hard to deny the freshness and vitality of President Obama’s official portrait by Kehinde Wiley that was recently unveiled. He’s a handsome man and casts a dignified and striking figure, but it’s really the wallpaper that steals the show. Bold botanicals in rich jewel tones set against a dark background, it also happens to be very on-trend.
Wallpaper has been making a splash the past few years as people rediscover its transformative power. The right paper can turn rooms with little architectural interest into something special, and lend serious glamour and fun to small utilitarian spaces such as laundry and powder rooms. Designers are using wallpaper in every room in the house and applying it to not only the walls but the ceiling, too. Some are even using the same print on drapery and/or upholstery to create a layered, immersive look (think English country house). Fortunately, there have never been more choices and they just keep getting more interesting. And daring. Here’s what’s new.
Kathy Basil, Hirschfield’s Manager of Design Services, is seeing a few themes rise to the top with the new crop of wallpaper, and one of them is color. “Color! Yes, please,” she declares. “Everyone went so gray and now people are craving color to brighten up their homes.” And she’s seeing lots of it in saturated jewel tones and unexpected combinations such as this green on green botanical print by Petronella Hall.
Metallics in all tones are cropping up in a wide range of designs, including contemporary geometric patterns, flora and other traditional designs. Reflective metallic accents change depending on the light and lend sophistication, edge, luxurious glow and a surprising amount of warmth to interior spaces.
Florals and Botanicals
There’s nothing shy about the new oversized florals—which can be found in both realistic and abstract designs. Bold color combinations like these giant pink dianthus flowers set against a coral background take a more traditional motif and pump up the volume. Butterflies and dragonflies add interest and delicacy. Botanicals such as palm and banana leaves are also popular.
Grasscloth has been popular for awhile and is available in a wide range of colors from neutrals and pastels to brights such as emerald and azure. There’s also an impressive variety of woven patterns that make the walls look like they’re covered in wicker, macrame, tweed or even a tapestry. Interest in a deeply embossed wall covering called Lincrusta is also growing. Found in many historical homes (including the White House), it’s available in traditional and contemporary designs and is a distinctive and luxurious choice for walls, ceilings or below a chair rail.
This charming Scandinavian style is still going strong. Christiana Coop of Hygge & West says that their Foret pattern (pictured below in teal, one of five available colors) remains very popular, and they’re starting to offer the design in fabric by the yard, as well.
Swedish artist Hanna Werning designs wallpapers that also capture the “Hygge” spirit, but in a more abstract way that evokes traditional wall murals. This sweet landscape called Flyttfro meanders up a river with mountains, animals, flora and fauna all along the way. The colors are saturated, yet subtle.