Andrew Harmon



The Hot Trend In Home Interiors

As an Interior Designer, I love including wallpaper in a residence and at times in commercial spaces. There is wallpaper with every project which I’ve been the designer of record.

Wallpaper is a material product used to cover interior wall surfaces. It is a decorative application which enhances the space of a room. It adds dimension, volume and interest. It also hides imperfections for uneven and textured walls and can provide easy to clean surfaces such as vinyl. There are types of wallpaper which paint can be applied on top for a textured look such as Anaglypta. Also current materials include metals, wood veneer, velvet fabric and grasscloths.

It had been recorded the Chinese invented decorative paper which was applied to interior walls around 200 AD. A few centuries later when the Arabs enslaved the Chinese, the Middle Eastern culture improved basic production and applications from the Chinese and included this decoration in their spaces.

Wallpaper application in interior spaces took a greater and more global audience during the European Renaissance era (14th -17th century AD). It was used by the middle class to copy or mimic expensive tapestries which were purchased by the elite and rich citizens in Southern Europe. The tapestries were purchased from Asia and the Middle East. Artisans used a printmaking technique which originated from Asia called woodcut. Woodcut is when an image is created and carved from a woodblock. Ink is applied and rolled on the block allowing saturation on the grooved surfaces which produces an image once the woodblock is pressed on a paper or cloth surface.

Since natural light (sunlight) and candlelight were the only methods to illuminate an interior space, wallpapers of various colors and patterns added to brighten their rooms. Wallpaper had a pratical use; it was used to keep damp walls dry and to handle or temper fireplace smoke in most areas.

King Henry the VIII made wallpaper production popular in England with the aristocracy when European traders were cautious to deliver tapestries to this region due to the fact that he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. As of current, the most prominent wallpaper designers and manufacturing plants in Europe are located in England.

The English mass production of wallpaper made it very popular in France in the 18thcentury. Also, at this time, China was producing high quality wallpaper which was hand painted and strictly purchased by wealthy Europeans. Since America was and still is influenced by European design and architecture, there were numerous factories in Philadelphia, PA and Boston MA producing replications of popular European wallpaper patterns.   

In the early 21st century, floral patterns, Asian motifs, damask prints, arts and crafts and stripes designs were some of the most common styles of wallpaper in American interiors. As with design trends, wallpaper lost some steam in commercial and residential design from 1980-2000. It was perceived that wallpaper was old fashioned, not flexible and semi permanent.

Wallpaper is far from old fashioned. Designers who never gave up in the creative effects of this material in interior spaces decided to go with bolder prints, adding raised textures to vinyl to achieve a three dimensional appearance, using dark, deep and jeweled colors. For the sustainable consumer, grass cloth wallpaper became extremely popular and for the elite and discriminating client, raw silks in metallic shades and exotic wood veneers have added that “wow” factor to rooms. A client can take a photograph and it can be created and transferred as wallpaper.

If there are walls which have a hard to eliminate textured surface, wallpaper as Anaglypta is used to hide the imperfections.

Commercial interiors have included heavy duty vinyl wallcovering in healthcare facilities and higher educational institutions where there is a high traffic of employees, patients, students, staff and faculty. Conference room suites, private dining areas and private offices have included a lighter weight vinyl wall covering more for aesthetics without sacrificing some of the durability properties such as wipe ability and easy maintenance.

In residential spaces, I recommend apply wallpaper in the foyer area, a small powder room, the dining room, the family room and bedrooms. If the residence is youngster and pet free, materials as silks, linen, wood veneers, grasscloths and lighter weight vinyl materials are acceptable.  If one is considering adding wallpaper in the Kitchen area, please consult a designer. Adding vinyl wallpaper to walls far from oven, range and sink areas provide the most practical location.

In conclusion, wallpaper is back and will not go away! For small spaces, do not afraid to be bold. Your space will make a statement!

Also make sure your selection will work for practical purposes for your space and do not be afraid to contact an Interior Designer. We have multiple resources on unique wall coverings at various price points and will recommend professional and certified wallpaper installers.

Contact Verden Interior Design Studio at 215-360-6722.



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