Tips for Designing with Wallpaper: Not Your Grandma’s Decor

Tips for Designing with Wallpaper: Not Your Grandma’s Decor

Does the word “wallpaper” conjure up images of your grandmother’s loud florals or scenes from Blanche’s Golden Girls boudoir? While this wall covering has been in use since the 750 BC (yes, really!), it took a wrong turn in terms of design and popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Well, guess what, folks: it’s back… and better than ever! Today’s wallpaper options are bold, beautiful, sophisticated, and stylish – and they may be just the right solution for your space.

“A Key Trend for 2020”

David Harris, Design Director with UK’s Andrew Martin, declares wallpaper a “key trend for 2020” with something for everyone…

…from traditional florals and trompe l’oeil, to contemporary geometric and tropical patterns or animal motifs and architectural designs. The progress in new printing techniques and finishes is constantly pushing the boundaries, and the availability of new substrates makes it even more exciting. The usage is also bolder and braver. If you have the confidence, there are endless possibilities.

Are you ready to be bold and brave? Or are you still unsure about wallpaper? We get it! Designing with wallpaper can be intimidating, and it can be difficult to know when, and how, to use it for the best results. As always, we have you – and your walls – covered.

6 Tips for Designing with Wallpaper

  1. Take a Chance

One of the biggest questions people have when it comes to designing with wallpaper is when to use large-scale prints and when to use small-scale prints. Conventional wisdom holds that a large print will make a room look smaller – but many designers, including Kyra Hartnett, co-founder of wallpaper creator Twenty2, disagree.

“Using small patterns or patterns only on one wall makes the room look smaller,” she says, “Take a chance. Install wallpaper with a big pattern on the walls, and the ceiling of the room will expand in size.”

Conversely, a small print and/or one with a more intricate design can help make a larger space more intimate; the “busy” pattern will not overwhelm the space.

Because this can feel like a big leap, Kyra Hartnett recommends picking up several wallpaper samples and tacking them up on your walls. Live with them for a while, see how they look at different times of day, and your decision will likely come to you quite easily.

  1. Add an Accent

Accent walls have gone in and out of style since the dawn of the 21st century, but today’s versions are powerful and purposeful. Focal points in their own right, these accents can liven up a room in no time. We’ve talked about architectural accent walls before, but you can achieve a wow-inducing look with wallpaper as well.

While using a pattern on one wall of a small room can make it look cramped, as we’ve discussed, using the accent wall technique in a medium to large-sized room is remarkably effective. Consider a bold print – large or small – that adds a bit of drama and flair to the space. Textured and metallic-tinted wallpapers are a great choice here as well.

  1. Small Space/Big Impact

Talbot Cooley of Houston design firm, TC Interiors, says that the powder room is a “space I challenge a client to be daring.” Guests will take in every detail, and this is your chance to make a statement. Other small spaces, such as vanity stations, closets, and study spaces can also benefit from wallpaper. 2020’s wallpaper trend is certainly “Be daring”!

This bold metallic powder room by TC Interiors has the wow factor.



  1. Look up.

Make a statement – on the ceiling. Often left blank, the ceiling can be a great canvas on which to create a dynamic, intriguing look. There are wallpapers, including paintable versions, that mimic the look of glamorous tin ceilings. Easily add both visual appeal and texture while achieving this classic look – or add a modern twist with your choice of paint.

That’s one way to use wallpaper on the ceiling. But don’t be afraid to go bolder.



This bedroom, for example, brings the outdoors in. The main wall and decor are largely neutral, and the slanted ceiling and side walls evoke the feeling of a fresh spring day. The large pattern makes the room feel light and airy. When considering wallpaper, don’t limit yourself to the walls!

  1. Let’s Talk Texture.

You can find a myriad of exciting textured wallpaper options that add depth and dimension to your space. Thanks to advanced printing techniques, they can mimic the look of marble, stone, brick, wood, and other natural surfaces. Grasscloth, for example, is a broad term for wallpapers made from hand-woven strands of natural fibers. it offers a very chic, nature-inspired look that suits a variety of decors.

There are also products that feature a flat, smooth surface yet the design appears to “pop out.” These are particularly well-suited for accent walls.


  1. Think BOLD.

This tip for designing with wallpaper should come as no surprise! Pinterest searches for “bold print wallpaper” and “bold wallpaper” increased 401% in the last year. There are many wonderful neutral and neutral-textured wallpapers (e.g. grasscloth) from which to choose, but there are also bold geometric, floral, 3D, and mural prints that may captivate your attention.

And remember: if you fall out of love with the look, today’s wallpaper is easier to remove and replace, especially on a well-prepared surface. So, if you take a risk, you can always change course if you want, just as you can with paint.

Want to Design with Wallpaper?

Whether you want to play it safe or take a chance, there is a wallpaper option out there for you. Stop by the ACo Showroom and Design Studio in Fishers to see our selection of wallpaper samples. Not sure if wallpaper is right for you space? Connect with the ACo team to schedule a free consultation, our designers can help you make decisions that empower you to love where you live.





The ACo Newsletter delivers the latest kitchen, bathroom and flooring tips, trends and ideas right to your inbox. Stay up to date with our latest projects, promotions and videos by subscribing today!