Subtle Yet Striking: 5 Understated Ways to Use Wallpaper

Wallpaper is so often something of a showstopper; designers frequently use it to make a big splash with color or pattern. No wonder it can seem a little scary! Even if you're more inclined to subtlty, you can still use wallpaper in lots of ways. Watch us prove it five times fast.

1. Keep it in the (color) family — This white-based wallpaper (above) blends perfectly into this room with other white walls. The mutted pattern adds interest, but not too much contrast.

2. Add an accent — A busy pattern (like the paisley backsplash above) might be too flashy for a whole wall, but it's just the ticket to highlight a smaller area or delinate an undefined area.

3. Scrutinize the scale — You know to avoid brights if you want to keep things minimal, but don't forget that once it's on the wall, the size of the pattern you pick is also important. A large-scale print will always be bolder, so for subtlety, scale down to something like this lovely print from Farrow and Ball.

4. Go grasscloth — Although it's perhaps technically a wallcovering, we still love the subtle texture and neutral color that grasscloth provides. It adds just enough oomph, while still keeping the look low-key.

5. Finish your furniture — Annie had the right idea with her dresser makeover. She found a wallpaper she loved and used just a bit to decorate the drawer fronts of her furniture. It's a great reminder that wallpaper can go almost anywhere so dream away, DIYers.

See? Not scary! There's always room for a little (subtle) something extra.

(Image credits: Tara Bellucci; Arthur Garcia-Clemente; leslie; Farrow and Ball; Justina Phippen; Annie Witkamp)