Taking the Wallpaper Plunge: Real Life Tips on How To Make It Work

Taking the Wallpaper Plunge: Real Life Tips on How To Make It Work

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Adrienne Breaux
Feb 7, 2017
(Image credit: William Strawser)

If there's a gene for pattern, New Yorker Emily Graff has inherited it. Though she lives in a small home, she's included plenty of pattern and used wallpaper to carve out distinct living areas in a studio.

(Image credit: William Strawser)

Choose. Then Build.

This is something my mom taught me: Choose one thing. Then build a room around it. In my case, the thing I chose happened to have a pattern. It's a turquoise love seat, with cream dots.


"They're very different, in terms of style and scale, but the common color unites them."


I then sought out other patterns that might complement it. The easiest way to do that, I think, is to look for patterns that incorporate similar colors. You'll see that turquoise in the block-printed wallpaper in the living room/bedroom space, and between the blue and gray sketched trees in the dining room space. I clipped a lot of wallpaper patterns, in a variety of prints, to choose these. They're very different, in terms of style and scale, but the common color unites them.

(Image credit: William Strawser)

I think about these variables: color, scale, and style. To keep a space in balance, you'll probably want to keep one of these variables consistent throughout. Again, I think color is probably the easiest variable to pick. Choose your anchor. Choose your variable. Then choose the complementary patterns.


"Swatches come in handy when you're mixing pattern and need to see how various samples look next to one another. It's easier than flipping from one screen to the next, I think."


Always see a sample first:

Order a sample first! Things can look different in person. Swatches come in handy when you're mixing pattern and need to see how various samples look next to one another. It's easier than flipping from one screen to the next, I think.

Emily's favorite online source for wallpaper:

Style Library. You can find various brands online—from Sanderson (in my dining area) to Scion (in my entryway).

(Image credit: William Strawser)

To hang or to hire:

I hired someone to install the wallpaper. He did a terrific job. (He even wallpapered the light switches!) In the end, it was a worthwhile investment for me because I had so many different wallpapers, on so many different walls.

You can definitely hang wallpaper yourself, and my local hardware store has been really helpful when I've had to rehang patches (long story short: upstairs apartment flood). There's also temporary wallpaper now that's even easier to try out.


"Order an extra roll or two of each wallpaper in case it goes out of stock in the future."


Order extra:

In any case, I would recommend that you do your research beforehand. Measure the walls. Double-check the dimensions of the roll to make sure you have enough for the job. And order an extra roll or two of each wallpaper in case it goes out of stock in the future, and you need to replace it (see long story short, above).

(Image credit: William Strawser)

Thanks Emily!

See more of Emily's pattern mixing skills in her VIDEO house tour → Eclectic Patterns in a Greenwich Village Studio Apartment



*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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