• Jun 26, 2015
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A Designer Confession: Addicted to Wallpaper

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It’s time for a designer confession. It may come as a quite a shock but I have an addiction issue that has been hiding in plain site for many years. I think now I’m finally ready to open up about my addiction to, wallpaper.  

I’m a huge wallpaper addict! I mean I celebrate it every week in my office and online with Wallpaper Wednesday. I’m not kidding.  If there’s a wall I want to paper it!   So it always surprises me when so many people have such an intestinal dislike for the incredibly beautiful wall coverings available today.

 I think most of it stems from childhood horror stories of parents making their children scrape layers of paper off walls. Or a later-in-life-nightmarish experience of trying to hang wallpaper.  I ask you to put all your design tragedies and traumas aside and reconsider the glory and wonder of wallpaper. 

Wallpaper works well in almost every room. I wouldn’t use it in a bathroom as steam is its mortal enemy, nor would I use it in a kitchen as a backsplash, it won't last.  But everywhere else it’s great. It provides interest, drama, surprise and decorative sophistication that is often lacking in most homes – and all this for relatively little money. 

The places where wallpaper works best:

pretty wallpaper

Accent Wall In theory I’m not a huge fan of accent walls, but I admit to having one in my own living room behind my sofa. My only problem with accent walls is that people so often choose the wrong wall!! Here are the best places to use wallpaper as an accent:

        • The wall behind a headboard. Anchors and highlights the bed, the focal point of any bedroom

         • A long continuous wall, such as in a hallway or stairwell. Provides interest and ads depth to a sometimes very tricky space

         • The wall surrounding a fireplace. Like in the bedroom it heightens the impact of the room’s focal point and provides an extra layer of decorative complexity.

pretty wallpaper

On the ceiling. I have used wallpaper on ceilings many times for clients. When I first suggest it they look at me like I’m from another planet and usually say something like, “Are you serious?” To which I reply “Absolutely!”  Wallpaper on the ceiling creates a new and unexpected dimension in a room. It provides a lot of bang for relatively little buck. Try it!

pretty wallpaper

Photo Credit left to right: UsefulBeautifulHome.com, TaterTotsandJello.com

In a linen cupboard or pantry. There is something about the surprise I get when I open the door to a what is usually a service oriented space such as a linen cupboard or pantry and find an incredibly beautiful wallpaper hung there. It’s completely unexpected and a therefore a very pleasant component of a decorative scheme.

pretty wallpaper

Powder Rooms. Wallpaper, for me, is all about drama. When you open the door to a small powder room covered in a spectacularly patterned or even a simple textured paper, gasps of amazement are often quite loud. Powder rooms are also a good place to start “small” on your wallpaper journey.  So go ahead and create a little jewel box out of the most unassuming room in your home.

 I hope you try wallpaper somewhere soon. I know the results will be wonderful! If, like me,  you’re not the patient DIY type, hiring a professional is really worth it.

 Good luck! And remember to follow me on Instagram @willmacdesign for #wallpaperwednesday. 


Toronto-based respected designer William MacDonald is the Principal of WillMac Design.   His firm is best known for creating stylish approachable spaces that evoke a simple timeless elegance. Servicing clientele throughout Canada, The United States. and overseas. Follow him at @willmacdesign

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