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Wallpaper Makes a Comeback

Vibrant patterns are a design must in 2022

The moment of bold is in. If you were to step into a designer time machine and go back three, five, or even seven years, you might find the world a little less colorful. The palette of just a few years ago was a far more neutral one, embracing whites, grays, and even blacks. (Nowhere is this more apparent than in the ceaseless trend of the white kitchen.)

But an exploding trend has emerged in design, after being out of favor for a number of decades: bright, vibrant, and playful wallpaper is de rigueur in the homes of the fashionable. Just ask Bryce Capp, co-founder and head creative director of the very in-demand company Milton & King. The Australian company, which Capp co-founded in 2008 with his brother, Richard, focuses on luxury fabrics and wallpapers in risk-taking colors and patterns. And their zeitgeisty designs are perfect examples of what everyone wants right now.

Why is wallpaper — and bold wallpaper, in particular — enjoying a renaissance? Capp attributes the moment to a number of factors. Technology, he says, allows for the development of more sophisticated, more saturated designs. Brands can also develop designs far more quickly than they could in the past. “We’re so agile, and we can create a design in a day,” he says. 

Wallpaper, too, Capp says, is now playing to a younger crowd. “It’s easier to install,” he says. “It’s easier to remove.” More sophisticated products, produced in designs that appeal to a younger demographic, have shifted the idea of wallpaper. Removable wallpaper, he says, is helping to get a younger generation familiar with the idea of wallpaper, so that when they are ready to become homeowners, they are already familiar with the product. “The transformational effects that it has are amazing.” 

If you’re looking to test the waters with wallpaper — a design must in 2022 — you can start with a statement room or statement wall. Powder rooms are ideal for experimentation, but you can also highlight an accent wall in a bedroom, or the space above wainscoting or a chair rail in a dining room. Wallpaper hangers recommend ordering 20 percent over the square footage that you’re looking to cover. 

When it comes to wallpaper, it’s ok to take risks. “Realizing the transformational power of wallpaper is pretty impressive,” Capp says. And it’s true: a little wallpaper can transform the look and feel of an entire room. Particularly popular trends of late have been botanical prints, animal-based prints, and even murals; Milton & King, for instance, devotes a section of their portfolio to full-room murals, which include eye-popping scenes: a safari, a view of New York City, a life-size humpback whale, the entire solar system, a wooly mammoth wearing a scarf and hat, a pirate ship sailing through blackest night. 

This year, splash around in the wide world of wallpaper. It’s an exciting way to bring the external world into your home, to add color, emphasis, and personality to any number of spaces. Forget about stodgy patterns and hard-to-install (and remove) rolls. This trend has taken flight. Step aboard!