This Low-Commitment Throwback Decorating Trend Is Back — But With a Twist

published Jun 10, 2022
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When my parents let me have my own bedroom — after sharing with my sister — my mother had my new room wallpapered in a Laura Ashley print complete with a matching border around the ceiling. While I loved the pretty floral print at first, it eventually felt oppressive, and I swore I’d never have patterned wallpaper in my own home when I was a grown-up. 

Like many people, I’ve come around to the charms of wallpaper, which has been back in a big way for more than a decade, and if I had the budget and decisiveness to choose, I’d gladly install it in my home. Despite falling back in love with patterned walls though, I never would have thought I’d consider a wallpaper border. But recently, a new crop of borders has me reconsidering.

I’ve been following London-based Dutch design house Ottoline DeVries on Instagram since discovering her beautiful wallpaper, and in recent months, I noticed several posts where Ottoline teased some wallpaper borders she was developing, and I found myself intrigued.

Then earlier this month, designer Susie Atkinson’s team sent me a preview of her new collection for Studio Atkinson, and along with the fabric samples were — you guessed it! — wallpaper borders. These new borders are nothing like that Laura Ashley print from my childhood bedroom. Rather, they’re graphic and clean — playful, even. Installed, they almost look like a ribbon and are being used not just at the ceiling line or to bisect a room painted in two different colors, as was often customary in the ’80s and ’90s.

The new wallpaper borders are also installed in a totally fresh way. Reporting on 2022 wallpaper trends for the UK-based Ideal Home magazine, writer Thea Babington-Stitt described the new style as “an inversion of the traditional border, by keeping your room either painted or painted in a single bold color, with a border made from a strip of wallpaper.” No more overpowering wallpaper plus coordinating border combinations: The new borders are a carefully chosen accent. Furthermore, borders are being used almost like trim — around doors, windows, and mantels in addition to running along the ceiling line or just above the baseboards.

When asked why she decided to add borders to her collection, Atkinson says borders “add detail and delight in an easy, affordable way.” Plus, she notes, “They are less of a commitment than wallpapering the whole room.” So true! Atkinson offers hers in two slim sizes: a 2-inch width and a skinny 1 3/8-inch width, which she says she did so “they can be layered and mixed.”

When you consider layering and paint pairings, plus the many places you could install borders — around baseboards, crown moldings, and doorways, to create panels for walls, and even under the tread of a staircase — the possibilities for borders feel endless. “I am excited to bring borders back,” says Atkinson. I’m excited to see all the creative ways people use them, and I can’t wait for Ottoline’s collection, which is due to launch any day!