Wallpaper. It’s time.

If you went out to lunch with a friend and you had spinach stuck in your teeth, you’d want him or her to tell you, right?

Or if you went to a site meeting with five construction workers and you had a gigantic rip up the back seam of your skirt, like practically right up to your underwear, you’d want the pervy foreman to let you know, right? (Why did I not feel a breeze back there?)

Green Farrow & Ball strie wallpaper in living room

Farrow & Ball strie (dragged) wallpaper in a bossy color client's living room

The point is, I’m more than your go-to design chick. I’m your friend. And as your friend, it is my duty to tell you: you must have some wallpaper in your home.

Wallpaper is now more than a trend. It’s de rigueur. People are embracing it. They’re recognizing its potential. They’re unleashing the power of patterned walls!

I think I’ve identified the 3 main reasons you’ve resisted wallpaper. You think it’s expensive, complicated, and permanent. I’m going to shoot these down one by one. (As your friend.)

EXPENSIVE? Not necessarily! Look online: Graham & Brown is very reasonably priced at about $45 for a European roll (which equals two American rolls…but that’s a whole other blog post)…

Graham & Brown's "Frames" wallpaper

Graham & Brown's "Frames" wallpaper

Amy Butler Lacework wallpaper

Amy Butler's "Lacework" through Graham & Brown

If you’re pattern-averse, grasscloth is everywhere, and it adds such warmth and grace to any space – especially foyers and stairwells.

Brown grasscloth wallcovering in foyer entryway

From the blog Belle Vivir

Your local paint store probably has some good wallcovering options. Look for Shand Kydd, Ashford House, and Printers Guild’s Vivace collection, for starters.

Blue floral wallpaper leaves

From Printers Guild's "Vivace" collection

COMPLICATED? Ok, I’ll admit that wallpaper can be a little complicated to calculate, but that’s why we have wallpaper store people (and wallpaper hangers) to help.

Before you go to the wallpaper store, measure your room, each wall, and get the total square footage. To be safe, I recommend NOT subtracting windows and doors unless you have an entire wall missing. Then bring those dimensions to the wallpaper store and they’ll help you calculate how many rolls you’ll need.

Wallpaper with parrots on it

York Wallcovering's "Tropical Birds Magnolia"

If you have a powder room and you’re using my installer, you will need six single (American) rolls, or 3 double (European rolls). He ALWAYS tells me that’s how much we need. ALWAYS. Sometimes we have leftover wallpaper, but we’ve never run short. For what that’s worth. (If the powder room is teeny tiny and you’re using a small pattern, 4 single/2 double rolls should do it.)

Farrow & Ball wallpaper in powder room

Farrow & Ball wallpaper in a bossy color client's powder room

As for the installation, Google, YouTube…there are lots of resources to show you how to hang wallcovering if you want to try it yourself. It’s no messier than painting; it just requires a large flat surface, different tools, and more precision. The last room I wallpapered myself was a bathroom when I was about 14. If I could do it then, you can do it now.

If you can’t stomach hanging wallpaper yourself, hiring someone doesn’t cost as much as you’d think. We’re talking hundreds, not thousands.

Nina Campbell's Paradiso wallpaper

Nina Campbell's Paradiso wallpaper in MY foyer! Which I most certainly did not install myself.

PERMANENT? Definitely not. This is the biggest difference between today’s wallpaper and wallcovering of yore: this WILL strip off easily when you’re ready.

Have I convinced you?

Remember that I’m doing this because I love you, Gentle Readers. The truth can be hard to hear. But the truth is that it really, REALLY is time to wallpaper. Like, right now.

Annie Elliott – aka bossy color – is an interior decorator and design blogger in Washington, D.C. She has been quoted in publications from The New York Times to Real Simple and is considered an expert on color, residential space planning, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible.


  1. Cyndia says

    I love wallpaper and wish I could get more people to just do it! Why can’t folks be adventurous like us??

  2. Marcia says

    NOOOOOOO! My husband and I purchased a very solid home that needed only cosmetic updates…including removing wallpaper from EVERY room. I have already informed friends and family that they will wallpaper in their homes over my dead body. Say YES to stencils!!!

  3. says

    Nice post, Annie! The wallpaper out there these days is fabulous! I recently did a feature wall behind a bed in Paloma Picasso’s aquamarine/teal slubby grasscloth. Soooo textural and rich.

  4. says

    Well, you’ve definitely inspired me. In the early 1990s I hated Wallpaper, because I worked with my dad’s painting company in San DIego doing a lot of stripping of 70s foil wallpaper. The stuff came off in tiny pieces. I remember telling myself NO WALLPAPER in my house. Then my sister took the first bold step and put a little wallpaper in her hallway and front foyer in the mid 2000s. I thought, “Wow…that actually looks good.” For the past 7+ years I’ve been wondering if I should bite the bullet and try a little in my house. After reading your post (which I love ready as a guy!) it is now on my list. I also won’t be installing it myself. My painting / wallcovering days are over. I’m hiring pros!

  5. secundra beasley says

    Would this be the time to mention about the Cooper Hewitt wall paper collection?

  6. says

    Eeeek – stencils! You’ll have to send me pictures to convince me! But if I were still recovering from massive wallpaper removal, I might be singing the same tune!

  7. says

    I hear you, David! If you can swing it, it’s great to pay the professionals. But I’m glad I’m helping you re-think. At least you could look at a strie/dragged paper or subtle texture, right? Thanks so much for the comment – and best of luck!

  8. says

    I’ve been considering the Nina Campbell Paradiso wallpaper for my dressing room (a little box room that is begging for big impact) and finding your AMAZING entryway via a Google search has just sealed the deal. Oh my god, it looks amazing, especially with that yellow wall! I love it and thank you for giving me the push I needed to just get it ordered already ;) xxx


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