This Controversial but Shockingly Chic Retro Trend Is Coming for Your Walls

published Jun 18, 2024
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Gray carpet with red and pink roses, carpet up half wall to railing trim
Credit: @karolinajez

A not-so-hot take: I love hotels. Tapping a key card to open the door, crawling into a crisply made bed, inhaling that elusive yet alluring hotel scent — I love it all! And, as a lifestyle editor, I relish copping inspiration from hotels on living more luxuriously at home, from how to get a better night’s sleep to ways to channel a spa-like experience in my apartment bathroom.

But after a stay at the Hôtel HONEYROSE, Montréal, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, I have added a new style tip to my arsenal: Carpeted wall coverings can be shockingly chic. They’re not exactly the carpeted walls you might remember from the 1970s or have maybe seen in a time capsule house, though; I’m talking about an ultramodern, very specific carpeting application, but it’s something you could definitely re-create at home. I usually stroll down hotel hallways without a second thought, but these halls honestly stopped me in my tracks. Lined from floor-to-half-wall in an emerald green carpet with a sumptuous rose pattern, they looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Credit: @karolinajez

The designers had that transportive effect as a goal. “Carpeting the floor as well as the wall permitted us to create a vantage point, allowing us to create this deep illusion of a lush hedge maze where roses bloom,” says Laurent Chapleau, president of Montreal-based ChaCha Communications, the firm that designed the carpet design specifically for the hotel.

The intended effect was to let “the traveler dwell and be enveloped in a universe rich in texture, color, and comfort.” No small feat, but the carpeted halls were alluring enough to keep me thinking about them long after my stay ended. 

While I know about wall-to-wall carpeting, extending the material up onto the walls gives the phrase a whole new meaning. And staying in the hotel helped me realize that it serves a practical purpose: With so many guests winding around the hallways and bumping their suitcases along, scuff marks are inevitable.

Using carpet below the chair rail not only pads the walls from those unsightly marks, but it also imbues the passages with a ton of gorgeous texture and a hit of color. 

This got me thinking — were these immersive carpeted halls something I could bring home with me? Having seen designer Christina Salway’s use of textiles in her own home (check out the incredible tiger rug hanging on the wall in her Brooklyn home tour), I asked for her thoughts on the wall carpeting trend. 

Credit: @karolinajez

“[Design is] kind of having a moment of exploring texture on walls in lieu of traditional wallpaper or paint,” Salway says. “I’m seeing a lot more fabric being applied to walls, certainly rugs, baskets, and rattan. They’re adding texture, depth, and warmth.” 

Plus, she adds, “It serves as this incredible replacement for art.” She notes that there are all kinds of ways to decorate with carpet, from a half-wall to going all out and applying it to the full wall, or simply using a beautiful throw rug as wall art — this is a great chance to give antique rugs a second life. 

“Aesthetically, we’re in a time where people are pretty tired of gray minimalism and they’re ready to have a bit of fun,” Salway says. “Those sorts of textures are a great manifestation of that. People are like, well, what if we put the walls and the floors on the walls? What if we played around a little bit?”

Given that I rent my apartment, I can’t hire a designer to affix carpet to my living room walls, as much as I may want to. But I am looking more closely at the carpet under my feet these days. While I love the layered carpet look, I’m keen to bring some more texture to my vertical surfaces; there’s so much artistry in tapestries and rugs, and they make timeless wall art. Currently, the wall behind my couch is a big open swatch of white paint, and I’m dreaming of making it a little cozier.