Wallpaper: the History, the Trends and the Tips to Do it Yourself!
Let’s talk about one of my favorite design features that has recently made a major comeback. Yes, my friends, I’m talking wallpaper. Wallpaper is one of the most magical features that can elevate any space. They say that design is cyclical, and we can attest that wallpaper is one of the most popular design trends right now.
The History of Wallpaper
It is believed that the Chinese invented wallpaper, back in the Qin dynasty as early as the 10th century. They would paste rice papers onto walls to celebrate their heritage and culture. Later, smoother linens replaced the rice paper so that painting would be easier. It is also believed that the earliest surviving fragment of European wallpaper dates all the way from 1509.
There is even a French word for a “maker of wallpaper” – dominotiers. This exclusive naming right was likely due to the French invention of the first wallpaper printing machine. As trends developed, the French became the leaders in the industry.
Of course, when you think of wallpaper before its resurgence, you likely think of the popular 1950’s and 1960’s designs that encompassed the generations before us. I remember my parents buying a house when I was about 10 years old, in major need of some updates. We were DIY’ers, even back then, so it was up to us to peel layer upon layer of wallpaper off the walls. I can still smell the old glue that was used to adhere the wallpaper to the walls!
As you can see, there is immense history behind this simple design feature, way beyond our knowledge and experience with it, one that helps lend itself to today’s implementation of the creation.
Wallpaper comes in many shapes, patterns, and colors. There is guaranteed to be the perfect wallpaper for your design, no matter what you are looking for. Sometimes, subtle designs can be used to provide texture to a basic room, other times the wallpaper is vibrant and eye catching, meant to be the design feature of the entire room. It is also often used to tie together several different design elements, in hopes of creating a cohesive space.
The wallpaper trend is not limited to the walls of a property, however. We have seen it used in all manners. The fronts of dresser drawers, the backing of a china cabinet, even on a refrigerator!
If you are choosing to feature a wallpaper on a wall, get creative with it. Do you want to paper the top half, and paint the bottom half a coordinating color? What about an arch as a focal point over a bed or desk? We have even used wallpaper to stripe a wall before (be careful with this one, don’t choose too loud or intricate of a print or it gets messy!)
Here, we have hand selected a number of wallpapers that we have personally used in past projects, or have even used in our personal homes!
The major difference between wallpaper today and the wallpaper of the past, is the ease in which it can be applied and removed. Nowadays, choosing wallpaper is not a forever choice, instead, it can be as short lived as a holiday!
On average, a feature wall takes our team around 1.5 – 2 hours to complete. I’d say a beginner could do it in this time frame as well! It isn’t a necessarily difficult task, but it does tend to be on the tedious side. Here are a few tips to ensuring a smooth finish!
Make sure the wall is smooth: of any dents, dots or cracks. If you’re papering drywall, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue. If you are papering plaster, you may consider a light sanding to ensure a smooth wall
Clean the wall thoroughly, using just a wet rag will do just fine. Any imperfection left on the wall will create a bubble in the wallpaper, so take your time with this!
When you’re ready to begin placing the paper, unroll a small piece of the adhesive backing all the way across the paper.
Line up the top of your wallpaper roll with the top of the wall, ensuring you are level with the wall. Keep in mind, a small diagonal in this first piece will result in a large diagonal a few pieces down, so this line is your most important!
After lining up your wallpaper, slowly unpeel the adhesive backing as you press the paper on the wall. I prefer to do about 6-8” at a time to ensure it is smooth. Additionally, I use a scraping tool to smooth out any imperfections. A credit card works just fine for this, but I personally love the cricut tool!
After you finish your first roll of wallpaper, use an exacto knife to cut the wallpaper right up against the floorboard, or molding if you have it.
Then, make sure the pattern from your first section is lining up perfectly with the next section. You may need to cut off a portion of the paper to line it up, but trust me, it is worth it!
Repeat 3-6 until you have finished the wall!
It really is not too difficult to create a fabulous statement wall, but it does take some time and effort! Hopefully with this little guide, you can easily create the wallpaper vision of your dreams as well!