Wallpaper Inspiration That Can Work in Any Space

This isn't your parents' wallpaper! Today's designs are bold and patterned, abstract and playful, neutral and textured.

Sylvania, a wall covering by Osborne and Little in mint/teal, conjures a whimsical woodland setting at Kreatelier in Providence. Photography by Alessandra Moraes.

Wrap It Up

If you’ve taken a peek into even one or two home decor magazines lately, you’ve likely seen wallpaper. Lots and lots of wallpaper, covering almost every conceivable area, from accent walls and hallways to bathrooms, bedrooms and those Instagram-worthy home offices.

The trend is most certainly evident at Kreatelier, a fabric and home goods store on Providence’s Hope Street. When owner Line Daems expanded the shop last year, she cloaked counters, walls, boxes, shelves, back rooms
and countless other spaces in wall coverings and created a nook where
customers can browse through various designs.


A cheerful nook in Kreatelier features two designs by Emma J Shipley, carried by Clarke and Clarke: Jungle Palms in jungle, at top, and Amazon in jungle, below. Photography by Alessandra Moraes.

She started seeing wallpaper come back around four to five years ago, but it really started to surge within the last two years — a rise she attributes to people being stuck in their homes during the pandemic.

“During COVID, everyone was at home,” she says. “You needed to be surrounded by something that made you happy.”


The store’s checkout counter is wrapped in Chimney Swallows in sky blue by John Derian for Designers Guild. Photography by Alessandra Moraes.

These aren’t the musty florals and boring patterns you may remember from the sixties, seventies and eighties: Today’s styles can be simple or textured, natural or synthetic, bold or serene. Legacy brands like Morris and Co. and Schumacher are bringing back classic designs with updated colors: think dragons with pops of magenta and florals done in moody eggplant and onyx hues. 

Clients are using it most as an accent wall to make a room pop, Daems says, but she’s also seeing it used in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and small bathrooms. Some workplaces and restaurants are using designs that mimic the look of stone, concrete or steel, adding texture and contrast to a space for a fraction of the cost. 

You can even have a whole wall done in clouds or trees, or a beach scene, or have a favorite photo turned into a wall covering if you so wish. 


: Pimpernel by Morris and Co. in moss makes a client’s swanky bar pop. Photography by Alessandra Moraes.

Bold Moves 

Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner and creative director of Blakely Interior Design in North Kingstown, has been using wallpaper in her designs for quite a while, but has seen the use skyrocket during the last three to four years.

In fact, the only resistance she’s seen is from husbands who remember the frustration of removing it years ago. (Don’t worry — today’s materials make wallpaper easier to take down than in years past.)


created a serene office space with Zamora Blue Brushstrokes wallpaper by Brewster Home Fashions, which opens up to a dining room featuring Skyler in mineral by Thibaut. Photography by Greg Premru.

She’s seeing it used in powder rooms and bedrooms the most. Bathrooms, she says, are a perfect place to go bold. “It’s a great space to have a punch of personality,” she says. “You can really go bold in a small room like that.”

For the best effect, patterns should stay self-contained to one room, she says, and not bleed into another room or hallway. 

“We do love to use wallpaper, but it’s important to balance the intensity, boldness and saturation in color value within selections in a room,” says Blakely Photopoulos. “You don’t want crazy patterns from room to room — you want your eyes to be able to rest for a little bit.”

The technology is always evolving, she says. Today’s wall coverings still come in classic materials like grasscloth, and in new formulations woven through with cork, recycled newspapers and vinyl, which works particularly well in wet spaces like bathrooms. 

“There are no real rules,” Daems says. “That’s the freedom in design — you can do whatever you want.”


A soothing bedroom is done in Honshu in robin’s egg by Thibau. Photography by Greg Premru.


Classics with a Twist 

Adler’s Design Center and Hardware in Providence has been in business for more than a century, and has carried wallpaper for most of that time, jokes co-owner Harry Adler.

“We’ve always kept it in stock,” he says. 

The main difference is that today’s offerings are bolder, made from a range of materials, and work together with complementary fabrics, paints and accessories. 

“We’re seeing wallpaper matching fabric again,” says Deborah Jones, an interior designer (one of four) at Adler’s. “It’s quite wonderful.”

You can do a room or just a wall in wallpaper, she says, and match the drapery or shades to create a welcoming, restful space.

Untitled Design 2

Clockwise from top left: A selection of wallpaper designs from Adler’s Design Center and Hardware in Providence. Ann Blue Floral Vines by Lina in blue; Mårdgömma by Borastapeter in green; Sanderson’s Very Rose and Peony in kingfisher/rowan berry; Melville by Cole and Son in charcoal and metallic silver; Nemour by Thibaut in coral; Woods and Stars by Cole and Son in black and white. all wallpaper sample images courtesy of Adler’s Design Center.

“It’s a way of enveloping the room in this cozy, beautiful cocoon,” she says. “We’re all looking for some sort of cocoon today; we all need a place to retreat to.”

One trend she’s seeing is the use of traditional wallpaper patterns in historic homes, but with new color palettes and unexpected textures. Brands like Sanderson and Morris and Co. are especially popular, she says. 

Want to be daring? Drape your ceiling in a bold design. If you’re not that brave, Jones suggests starting with something small, like an entryway or a bookshelf as a way of dipping your toes into the world of wallpaper.

She likens choosing wallpaper to a research project: You really need to do some homework and see what will look best in your home.

“Don’t just trust how something looks on Instragram,” she says. “Come and see it in person. Seeing something online doesn’t do it justice.”

And don’t try to go it alone. You may have been able to wallpaper a room yourself back in the eighties or nineties, but today’s patterns are complicated. Everyone we spoke to for this story had one main piece of advice: Having a professional installer measure, prep and install your wallpaper is the best way to go.