When it comes to ocean home décor, vibrant paints in a spectrum of cool coastal blues, greens, taupe and crisp whites have long ruled the roost. But a new generation of American homeowners is now discovering the joys of a very different style of wall covering.
Once traditional wallpapers are making a spectacular comeback, fueled by stunning contemporary designs and new technologies and techniques in paper and handling, making wallpaper easier to apply and remove than ever before.
One of the design firms leading the charge is Wallpaperdirect, a long-established British company that has launched Wallpaperdirect USA to meet the demands of American professional interior designers and amateur home decorators.
“Everyone has been experimenting with paints for many years but now they want something different, fresh and exciting,” says Alise Heemstra, who heads up the U.S. online operation as well as a sampling and customer service office in Tennessee.
“There’s also a generation of people who are buying their first homes, don’t have any prior experience with wallpaper and are finding it so easy to use,” she adds.
“And the designs we offer by top British brands, such as Cole & Son, Little Greene and Farrow & Ball, are so beautiful and inspiring. These are not your grandmother’s wallpapers.”
Heemstra says aqua blue is a color trend for 2016, making it ideal for coastal homes. Faux but very realistic brick and wood paneling papers are also in demand, along with animal prints, oriental birds, florals, eye-catching geometrics and metallic and beaded styles.
“White brick with a smooth or textured look is very popular,” she adds. “And the wood prints are so realistic, they look like you’re going to get a splinter if you rub your hand over them.”
Heemstra advises requesting samples of wallpaper designs to test them before purchasing. “Especially with the metallic prints,” she notes. “You really need to see these prints in the light of your own home to make sure you pick the right one.”
While the majority of wallpapers come from England, Heemstra says delivery of in-stock designs direct to American homes usually takes just three to four days by DHL (a little longer if the paper is not stocked by Wallpaperdirect). The Tennessee office also handles returns for added convenience.
Advances in natural and manmade paper fibers and handling techniques are making wallpaper much easier to apply and remove, adds Heemstra.
“Paste the Wall is a growing trend in Europe, with papers being developed to allow the paste to be applied to the wall for ease of application and better results,” she says.
“The new wallpapers don’t expand or change their shape, so you just apply the adhesive to the wall and press the paper to the adhesive. It’s less messy and goes up very quickly because you are not working with water or waiting for the paper to accept the adhesive.
“It’s also much easier to remove because the paper stays as one unit and you are not trying to scratch and scrape off tiny strips.”
One area of confusion that Heemstra advises clients to watch for is the size and lengths of British wallpapers.
“Our rolls are European size, called metric rolls or bolts,” she says. “They can also be known as a double roll because they are twice the length of a standard American single roll.
“Typically, there are almost 33 feet of wallpaper on one roll,” Heemstra adds. “The price you see on the website is the price you pay for a roll of that size.”
While some suppliers vary, a European roll is generally 21 inches wide (although some can be 27 inches wide). “The wallpaper calculator on our website can help you estimate how many rolls to order based on the size of the rolls we sell,” says Heemstra.
Wallpaperdirect’s website allows clients to view rooms with any choice of wallpaper, to give an idea of scale and pattern repeat, and provides handy decorating tools and “how to” videos.
The firm also offers fabrics that are available as beautifully handmade curtains, cushions and art accessories to complete your home design.
For more information, visit www.wallpaperdirect.com/us