We Found the Best Statement Wallpapers, From Palm Leaves to Warhol-esque Flowers
There’s a pattern for every room.
Published Aug 6, 2021 1:00 AM
In the not-so-distant past, wallpaper was considered stuffy and old-fashioned, a relic from a bygone era. But in the past few years, decorative wall coverings have become one of interior design’s biggest trends. The only problem: It’s been around for centuries, so the color, pattern, and material options are virtually endless. “Once you dip your toe into the world of wallpapers, you will quickly be overwhelmed by the amount of choice,” says Sophie Ashby, founder of London-based design firm Studio Ashby. Whether your tastes lean toward the traditional or skew modern, there’s a wall covering for every style and commitment level, from removable designs that peel off like a sticker to pasted versions that will stand the test of time.
To find the best fit for you and your room, Ashby suggests picking a solid starting point. “I like to begin with a favorite piece of art and use its palette as a guide to filter out the options,” she says. But if you’re on the lookout for timeless or quirky updates on classic patterns, we rounded up the best wallpapers from the brands and designers beloved by Team Domino.
- Best stripes: Farrow & Ball
- Best modern: Voutsa
- Best glam: Flavor Paper
- Best graphic: Kelly Wearstler
- Best florals: Lake August
- Best traditional: House of Hackney
- Best collaboration: Studio Four
- Best abstract: Eskayel
- Best eclectic: Fine & Dandy Co.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Application: There are three main types of wallpaper: nonpasted, prepasted (which is backed by a water-activated adhesive), and removable peel-and-stick. The latter boasts the easiest installation process—there’s no messy glue or hours-long drying time to factor into the equation.
Material: According to Joe Cassidy of Elite Wallcovering—designer Ariel Okin’s go-to wallpaper installer—the most popular options today are graphics printed on Mylar (a plastic top layer with paper backing) or vinyl (either a coated top layer with paper backing or a solid vinyl). “Vinyl wall coverings offer excellent durability and are easier to install and remove because they cannot tear,” says Jill Steinberg, cofounder of custom wallpaper retailer Fine & Dandy Co. Paper and woven fabrics like grasscloth and silk are great for adding texture to a room; however they are more fragile and can be challenging to maintain, especially in high-traffic or high-moisture areas.
Size: Rolls of wallpaper are often packaged for residential projects in standard widths of 20.5 inches, 27 inches, and 36 inches, though you can find them in a variety of sizes. “Then there are 52-inch goods that can be sold by the yard,” adds Cassidy.
Our Top Picks
Best Stripes: Farrow & Ball
Farrow & Ball is a designer favorite for its velvety, water-based paint colors and high-coverage finishes; the British brand’s wallpapers are equally coveted for their classic patterns and timeless palettes. A collection of quintessential stripes comes in colorways as expansive as the company’s paint offerings and 11 different styles, from bold and block to tented and plain. We like the simple Broad Stripe in a subdued mossy green for a graphic impact, but if your aesthetic is more Jane Austen than cabana-chic, you can evoke the English countryside with the Regency-inspired Tented Stripe in a modern pop of blush pink or orangey coral.
Best Modern: Voutsa
Channel your inner art student with Voutsa’s endlessly imaginative, digitally printed wallpapers, many of which feel like they’re straight out of a Surrealist’s dreams. The Audrey Dot collection is a borderline optical illusion that imitates the ripples and folds of a perfectly rumpled bedsheet; the mauvy pink and green pairing feels like a romantically bold choice. For a touch of whimsy on nonwoven vellum, the brand’s elevated take on chinoiserie depicts vibrantly hued pheasants and peacocks perched on branches of saturated blue. Though it has the potential to overwhelm a space if used on every wall, the daring pattern can enliven a powder room or make a dramatic statement when isolated as an accent wall.
Best Glam: Flavor Paper
If you’re searching for juicy colors and a punchy Pop Art sensibility, Flavor Paper has a wallpaper for you. The Brooklyn-based brand has made a name for itself with game-changing concepts like scratch-and-sniff papers, holographic motifs, and designs cast in Day-Glo and invisible ink, but it continues to innovate with glam glow-ups of iconic art, including metallic reinventions of Andy Warhol’s Flowers and Hokusai’s The Great Wave. The best part: The papers are fully customizable by color, so you can give any room a fun, psychedelic edge with Warhol’s hibiscus petals or a soft, serene vibe with the Japanese woodblock waves.
Best Graphic: Kelly Wearstler
It’s easier than ever to re-create Kelly Wearstler’s coolest destination hotels thanks to the designer’s striking collection of wallpaper prints that straddle the line between understated and over the top. A spin on Cubism, District is a funky covering that features large, sharply outlined geometric shapes in five earthy colorways (cobalt, tawny, silt, alabaster, and tobacco). For a more compact graphic, Lyre is a modern elevation of checkered blocks that look as if they’ve been painted on by hand. The beauty of all of Wearstler’s wallpapers lies in their ability to mimic textural elements, adding depth and dimension to any room but especially in small spaces.
Best Florals: Lake August
Inspired by the flora and fauna of her native California, designer Alexis Hartman’s hand-drawn wallpapers evoke the hazy sun and warm breeze of a late-summer afternoon and are traditionally silk-screened and printed for a nostalgic feel. Like a tapestry of the Midwest prairie lands, the clay-coated Sunniva is a large floral motif with contrasting white petals and colorful stems that conjures a walk through a field of wildflowers. Looser though no less impactful, Matilija is a transfer of Hartman’s take on a gouache painting of the California poppy. It’s equally suited to fit the latest cottagecore craze or a modern traditionalist home, but here’s an even bigger draw: Every Lake August purchase supports the Center for Biological Diversity to protect the very ecosystem your wall will soon emulate.
Best Traditional: House of Hackney
If you’ve always loved William Morris botanicals and Frederic Schumacher naturescapes but wish you could bring them into the 21st century, you may find yourself drawn to House of Hackney’s off-kilter takes. Palm leaves, toile, animals—you name it, the brand has reimagined it with quirky colorings and hidden symbols. The scene in Trematonia feels like a fantasyland complete with castles and mythical creatures printed in elongated stripes. But if the look of Narnia isn’t really your thing, there’s always the brand’s signature: Palmeral, an iconic palm print inspired by a 17th-century greenhouse in London that, at the time, was the largest in the world. It shines in midnight and green and is great for half walls and low-ceiling spaces.
Best Collaboration: Studio Four
The genius of Wayne Pate, Nina Freudenberger, Amber Lewis, and Brian Paquette can all be found in new wallpaper patterns available at Studio Four, a boutique showroom in New York City that specializes in collaborations with niche artists and designers, and carries textiles and wallpapers from small brands. Team Domino is loving the tapestry-like red and blue blossoms in Pate’s Zoebel. Printed on a continuous roll that can be purchased by the yard, it’s a more affordable way to bring the artist’s often sold-out paintings home. Or opt for Paquette’s Escher-like Nantes, a Cubist motif in a monochromatic palette of blue, black, or beige for a more uniform pattern.
Best Abstract: Eskayel
Like the tessellated shapes and colors you’d find while peering though the lens of a kaleidoscope, Eskayel’s bespoke wallpaper collections have a kinetic effect that brings a room to life with a touch of bohemian softness. Watercolor-style droplets bleed and repeat in Rorschach-inspired patterns on Twinkle, a soothing print cast in jewel-toned greens and blues on the company’s clay-coated paper. For a greater hint of texture, the Brooklyn-based studio also offers tightly composed designs on grasscloth—a handwoven sisal—to emphasize an organic vibe. Biami comes in a muted colorway that belies its nuance; up close, the amorphous shapes look large and unruly, but step back and their intricacy shines.
Best Eclectic: Fine & Dandy Co.
Calling all antiquity fans: Whether you prefer the golden grandeur of Art Deco elements or a cheeky spin on Victorian ornamentation, there’s a wallpaper for that at Fine & Dandy Co. The brand merges historical influences with fanciful details for a topsy-turvy, Through the Looking-Glass feel that transforms rooms in both subtle and striking ways—think: bugs inspired by entomological studies and landscapes with ominous twisting vines and roots. And Fine & Dandy wall coverings can be customized to match any existing color for an even more unique, one-of-a-kind look. Who doesn’t love that?
What’s the best way to remove wallpaper?
Removing wallpaper can be tricky, Cassidy admits. Strip back vinyl and nonwoven options to reveal the adhesive beneath them, which you can then wash away with warm, soapy water. For the more difficult stuff, he recommends using a steamer or grabbing a spray bottle. “Put shampoo or liquid soap into hot water and soak the paper, remove what softens up, and repeat,” he says, adding if you’re scraping the wall, you’re doing something wrong.
Can you apply peel-and-stick wallpaper to textured walls?
Removable wallpaper and rough surfaces do not get along. “Textured walls make it difficult for the wallpaper to stick properly,” notes Elizabeth Rees, founder of temporary wallpaper purveyor Chasing Paper. “We recommend using removable wallpaper on smooth walls that have been primed with a premium eggshell, satin, or semigloss paint. If you have a textured wall, you can skim coat it to make it smooth.”
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