Paper perfect: Why wallpaper is your new best friend

Photos: Virginia Hamrick (left) and Stephen Barling Photos: Virginia Hamrick (left) and Stephen Barling

Love it or hate it, there’s an undeniable appeal to a papered wall. Unlike paint, wallpaper adds detail and dimension that a solid painted wall can’t achieve. And, says Kenny Ball Antiques designer Chloe Ball, it gets an unnecessarily bad rap.

“If walls are primed properly, it’s not harmful and easily removed,” she says. (She recommends using Benjamin Moore Fresh Start, an oil-based primer, before you hang anything.) Feeling intimidated? Ball says starting small, with a mudroom or powder room, is a good way to ease in. And Kathleen Conroy, Ball’s design partner, suggests using wallpaper as a segue between painted rooms (like in hallways) or even at the back of bookshelves.

If you still need an extra nudge, here are three local retailers providing plenty of inspiration.—Caite White

Photo: Stephen Barling
Photo: Stephen Barling

Whimsies owner Jessie Wright was looking for a way to create a focal point in the baby section at the back of the store. “I wanted a pop of color,” she says. After seeing a photo of a child’s bedroom with this wallpaper, she sourced it on Etsy and hung it herself.

Photo: Andrea Hubbell
Photo: Andrea Hubbell

The store’s recent renovation gave Scarpa owner Amy Gardner an excuse to hang this F. Schumacher “Chiang Mai Dragon” paper (near the register). “I wanted to use it for 15 years but never had a place for it,” Gardner says. “It had all the colors I wanted for the space.”

Photo: Stephen Barling
Photo: Stephen Barling

Painted to mimic The Beverly Hilton hotel’s iconic “Martinique” wallpaper from the 1940s, the banana leaves motif “straddles the line between retro and modern,” says Sweethaus owner Tara Koenig. Artist Genevieve Story of Lutra Creations projected the image on the wall of the candy shop’s Ivy location to get an outline, then repeated the pattern over the surface before filling in the details with acrylic paint. “People always comment on it,” says Koenig, “and most can’t believe it’s not wallpaper!”

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