Wallpaper was all the rage when I was growing up. So in a bold decorating move, my mom papered our kitchen ceiling, which my friends thought was totally cool.
Today, wallpaper is back with a vengeance. And when you harness the power of great wallpaper and fresh paint — my decorating superpowers — you have all the muscle you need to breathe new life into any room, all without breaking the bank.
Right now, just about anything goes when it comes to wallpaper styles.
Those who crave a more traditional look are investing in timeless classics like hand-painted papers or murals for their formal rooms.
Others are feeling groovy and embracing the retro patterns that have made a huge comeback, such as vibrant geometrics, shiny metalics and oversized florals.
I’m a big fan of wallpapering smaller areas to give them more pizzazz.
I covered the walls and ceiling of my tiny powder room in a small, dark print and enjoy how it makes the space feel intimate and warm. I also put a dark green paper with a classic wreath pattern in the vestibule leading from my front door into my foyer. It makes this short hallway more formal and gracious.
If you’ve selected a bright, bold pattern or don’t want wallpaper on every wall, consider papering just one wall. Or paper a smaller, often overlooked spot, like a closet or an alcove.
A friend made her walk-in closet a luxurious hideaway by papering the walls and replacing the utilitarian light fixture with a petite chandelier.
Wallpaper doesn’t even have to be on a wall to work its magic in a room. You can use it as art.
For example, to liven up a boring wall, frame a mixture of wallpaper squares and hang them in a grid.
Scout for wallpaper-sample books at flea markets, then pick nine patterns you really like and that work well together. Frame them in matching frames and hang them in a grid three deep.
Or you can use wallpaper to give old furniture new life.
Paper the inside doors of your TV cabinet. Line dresser drawers in wallpaper. Cover the back of a bookcase or hutch with a subtle but interesting pattern.
Top a beat-up old desk or kitchen table with a piece of attractive paper, then protect it with a piece of glass, cut to fit. Let your creativity run wild, and chances are you’ll think of dozens of unconventional ways to use paper in your home.
Paint is still the cheapest way to transform a room. Right now, people aren’t worrying about what colors are “in,” but, instead, are following their hearts when picking paint palettes.
Some are drawn to soft, serene colors like light blue, pale yellow or cream. Others crave bold color and are eating up vibrant hues like apple green, turquoise and burgundy.
If you pick a strong or dark color and start to feel nervous about your choice when the first coat goes up, relax.
Sometimes it just takes awhile to get used to color. Wait until the room is finished — curtains hung, artwork up and furnishings in place — before you make your final judgment.
My bet is you’ll love your dramatic new color.
But rest assured you don’t have to go with magenta or twilight blue to create drama with paint.
A friend painted her walls and trim bright white, then added black, white and apple-green accents. Another put together a powerful room using shades of white and cream.
Don’t forget to give your ceiling special attention.
Some people like ceilings painted a few shades lighter than the color of their walls. Others like ceilings to be a darker color for contrast.
I’m partial to picking a complementary color for my ceilings, like the khaki I paired with my twilight-blue dining-room walls.
Mary Carol Garrity is the author of several best-selling books on home decorating.