Posted by: Diane Capuano
There are not many products that take walls from drab to dramatic as quickly and completely as wallpaper. Paint certainly can fresh up a wall, but if the consumer wants pattern — and doesn’t have the money to spend on a decorative painter — wallpaper is a great way to go.
The economy is having an effect on design and color trends in the wallpaper industry. One major impact has been the continued use of the feature wall.
“The economy and the environment continue to be major influences in everything we do, including home décor,” said Suzanne Ashley, Director of Marketing & Product Development, Seabrook Wallcoverings. “With fewer expendable dollars, homeowners are finding ways to spruce up and make their homes more inviting with wallcovering by covering one feature wall or the ceiling for a major statement that completely updates the room.
Malcolm Cooper, Creative Director, Blue Mountain Wallcoverings, agreed that the feature wall is a great way to ensure that the consumer gets more bang for their buck. “We are still enjoying the success of the feature wall,’’ he said. “The consumer easily understands this concept and has been exposed to this idea by the media and home TV programs. Because only one wall is involved, the consumer can also step up to a stylish higher price point—one with all the ‘bells and whistles.’ After all, in many cases this feature wall becomes the backdrop or artwork for the space.”
Gina Shaw, Vice President New Product Development, York Wallcoverings, sees wallpaper murals as a great way to instantly create a focal point with a feature wall. And the types of murals available in the wallpaper industry transport people to many different environments. “It’s great for people who want to create a lifestyle or environment in a den, office, dining room or kids’ room,” Shaw said. “The designs range from lodge looks to the New York City skyline, and some designs come with coordinating borders.”
Ashley mentioned several strong design themes in wallcovering, including:
Conservatory: Fresh florals (especially roses), birds, butterflies, and garden lattice/trellis motifs.
Nature: Branches, leaves, faux wood, grasscloth (plain as well as printed with designs), and cork.
Animal skins: Their popularity influenced by both the environment and fashion.
Recycled/Reclaimed: Distressed techniques, faux wood grain and printed textures that mock linen and other wovens.
Industrial: Designs that simulate metal, stone, and even corrugated cardboard.
Luxury/“Bling” : Wallcoverings are moving towards a more understated sparkle. This includes softer, more subtle metallic treatments, the continued use of glass beads and the strategic placement of crystals to accent printed designs.
Cooper, meanwhile, cited the popularity large-scale traditional prints ,including florals, damasks, toiles, paisleys and stripes. “Also, a special move to florals is seen everywhere,” he added. “It’s been a while but florals are back in all of their beauty. Even the return of the mini or Liberty print is a major direction. Look for small scale in all design.”
Cooper added that retro design continues to have a strong following—from the Art Nouveau/Deco period through to the 1980s. “I feel the interest In wallcovering is passing through to the younger generations through media exposure. Wallcoverings are like nothing they have seen before.”
In addition, Cooper observed that specialty finishes—gloss, matte, sueding, iridescent inks, metallics, pearls, and natural elements—add an exciting touch to the product. “I also want to mention the incredible interest in natural grasscloths. This category also includes strings, woods, minerals, corks, bamboo, grasses, reeds, and natural leaves and flowers,” Cooper said.
Paula Berberian, creative services manager at Brewster Home Fashions, Berberian reported that contemporary is still a big trend today in wallpaper. “We are always looking for ways to incorporate livable ‘modern’ motifs into our collections, too,” she said. “Traditional wallpapers are still the better sellers, however, requests for borders—especially themed like ‘country’ are being requested.”
Color-wise, Brewster is focusing on colors like tones of turquoise, the violet side of purple, yellow-infused greens, pinks, coral tones, neutrals and metallics. “Style-wise, we are developing wallpapers with design motifs to include Jacobeans, damasks, scrolls, medallions and leaves, which have roots in traditional design but with a twist for today’s market.”