Wallpaper borders may be the epitome of dated taste. Just the mention conjures images of cutesy vines resplendent with heart-shaped fruit winding their way around a theme-y kitchen. But not all wallpaper borders need to offend our modern sensibilities. My favorite variety — above the picture or tile rail — has graced historic and contemporary homes alike.
Picture, plate, and above-eye-level tile rails add another dimension to a room in and of themselves, but adding wallpaper above them is one more way to up the drama. In modern leaning homes the look seems fresh and inventive, but the technique has been used for centuries to add pattern to a room without overwhelming it. We love the application in Jeremy McElwain's beautiful home featured on Design*Sponge, picture 1. The extra architectural element of a rail or ledge makes for a finished and established look that is a far cry for the flimsy feel of the offending wallpaper borders popular in the 80s and 90s.
The technique also works well for small spaces, like Monique and Richard's hallway, picture 3, by adding a graphic edge without suffocating the small pass through.
However, it can also do the opposite, anchoring a section of a sprawling space, as in Heather's Tobacco Loft kitchen, picture 4 and 5, and making a large room feel more intimate and unified, such as in Tish Key's showhome kitchen, picture 2. Not to mention the fact that it makes using wallpaper in the kitchen a more viable option, since it won't be as susceptible to the usual food prep splatters.
Your thoughts? Wallpaper border redeemed, or passe in all forms?