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Wallpaper Is Making a Comeback With Bold Looks and Easy Removal


May 06, 2020 by Marc Rapport

Wallpaper has a mixed reputation, to say the least. If you had mentioned to my daughter a while back that you were thinking of putting up wallpaper, you would have received a look of shock and horror.

She spent endless hours tediously removing old wallpaper from what seemed like every surface of the first house she and her husband bought a few years ago in Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- a home dating to 1977, with wallpaper to match.

As she and many others can tell you, old stuff like that can be a nightmare to tear down. Wallpaper of yesteryear, in addition to looking outdated, was typically installed with a heavy-duty paste that was not designed to be removed.

That makes removing it a messy process that requires a liquid remover, a scraper, and sometimes even a steamer. No wonder painting began replacing papering in the hearts and minds of DIYers from the mid-90s on.

Off the wall and back on with bold, bright looks

But wallpaper is making a comeback. And there's no need for flashbacks if you're one of those who have spent hours tearing off messy, wet wallpaper and sanding down and repairing drywall damaged in the removal. That's because the times they are a changin' -- and so is wallpaper. While old-school wallpaper required a thick paste applied directly to the wall, new wallpaper tends to come pre-glued.

In fact, many varieties are specifically designed to be removed without damaging the wall underneath -- like a giant sticker -- which makes it a great option for those looking to make a big statement, but not necessarily a permanent one.

In stark contrast to the cool grays and neutrals that now dominate paint choices, new wallpaper trends lean toward bold colors and large graphic designs and nature-inspired prints. And it's easy to see the appeal. With endless styles and color choices, homeowners (and renters) can find a print that matches their unique style and taste.

Big impact in a small space

And unlike wallpapering in the past century, trends now veer away from covering your entire home in florals, stripes, and farm animals. Current wallpaper trends focus on making a big impact on a smaller scale.

So, how can you incorporate this new trend into your space? One tip from Architectural Digest is to begin your wallpaper adventure in a small room. Bathrooms, foyers, and closets are good places to try your hand at a fun, bold print. With smaller spaces, don't be afraid to try covering the entire room. This will help create a unified look.

Making design in the nursery rhyme

However, don't feel like you need to wallpaper an entire room if you're not ready to start that big. Wallpaper can be a great option for an accent wall in a bedroom, dining room, or living room.

As anyone who has spent time on Pinterest (NYSE: PINS) can tell you, it can also add a sweet and fun touch as an accent wall in a newborn's nursery. (Thanks for the grandson, I might add, to that young couple in Alabama!)

And the real beauty of newer wallpaper -- if you don't like it, take it down and try again. When my daughter's growing family moved recently into a newer home in the Birmingham suburbs, her new home office had an accent wall left over from a previous nursery.

She avoided taking down the wallpaper for weeks because of past trauma with that chore. But much to her delight, this wall covering peeled off like contact paper.

What took her so many hours to do with old wallpaper in the past took less than 10 minutes this time around. And now, she's even talking about using wallpaper to create an accent wall in her dining room!

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Marc Rapport has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Pinterest. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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