All About Wallpaper

Wallpaper is like a shot of Botox for a tired-looking room. Sure, paint will perk it up, but paper adds more than just color; it gives walls character, dimension, and pattern.

Wallpaper has adorned American homes since colonial times, but after its heyday in the early 1900s, it had a hard time overcoming its connotation as something only for chintz-loving grandmas or high-end designers. These days, thanks in part to buying opportunities on the Internet, homeowners are discovering an exciting world of sophisticated patterns, improved materials, and easy installation methods. You can choose from beautiful papers made in the 18th-century manner, as well as 21st-century nonwovens, which are sheets of fused fibers that are a breeze to hang—and remove.

We'll guide you through the many types of wallpaper—including plain papers, vinyls, metallics, nonwovens, and grasscloth—and the essentials of buying and caring for them. Plus, you'll find useful tips on selecting a pattern, estimating how much to buy, and proper hanging technique. Once you see what paper can do for drab walls, you may reach for the paste rather than a brush the next time you need to freshen up a room.

Shown: Vinyl papers, such as this one, hold up in bathrooms that are well ventilated. Coral Gables in Aqua, textured vinyl on a fabric backing, $190 for a 61-square-foot roll; Thibaut for dealers
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