The Surprising Reason You Should Pick a Big Wallpaper Pattern for a Small Space

published May 16, 2020
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Credit: Apartment Therapy

The Small/Cool Experience at Home is bringing 20 trends to life by 20 designers—all in less than 120 square feet. Check out the whole virtual experience online and at @apartmenttherapy on Instagram from May 15-17. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR, Amazon Handmade and Tuft & Needle for making this experience possible.

When you see designer Caitlin Murray’s High Contrast room in the Small/Cool Experience, a major stand-out detail is the black and white striped wallpaper covered in colorful, vibrant wall art. Turns out, the wallpaper is more than a Kate Spade-esque touch—it’s a trick she used to make the room feel bigger. 

During an Instagram Live chat with Murray and Apartment Therapy’s Home Director Danielle Blundell, Murray talked about how using a large-scale pattern actually is better for a small space than a smaller print because it makes the rest of the room less cluttered and chaotic. “I liked that it was larger scale and was a way to really design the whole space without having to fill it with a bunch of stuff,” Murray said of the black-and-white striped Chasing Paper design she chose. “That’s the other thing: you don’t want to just have a ton of little pieces.”

Credit: Danie Drankwalter

Beyond wallpaper, Murray mentioned that larger-scale items in general work in smaller rooms, like a big couch or table. These pieces fill up a room, but also reduce the risk of chaotic clutter and, ultimately, sensory overload.

“I like to create different zones so you can have a multi-function thing going on,” Murray said. “I love putting a table in a room where you can tuck either a chair a bench or an ottoman. It makes a moment and a functional thing.”

The moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to go big and bold! And don’t forget to add a little pop of color in there, while you’re at it.

Missed the full chat between Blundell and Murray? Watch it all here and don’t forget to check out the rest of the Small/Cool Experience!