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Emma Chamberlain’s drool-worthy LA home broke the internet for many reasons, but wallpaper textures in particular stood out from the groovy interiors thanks to the brilliant dimensions—cork-lined walls and ceilings plus some banana-tree bark wallcoverings in the powder room. The concept of imbuing your walls not just with color, but also touchable finishes, is one that’s gaining traction for punching up your space with a certain wow factor.
Designer Alex Alonso of Miami’s Mr. Alex Tate Designs describes the recent surge of interest in wallpaper textures, explaining that “anything that really personalizes a space is getting a lot of attention.” He also notes the way people are experimenting as clients look for ways to make their walls feel special and more custom: “Sometimes paint will do the trick, but when you want to be a little extra, texture on the walls really makes a statement.”
As New York–based designer Josh Greene also notes, wallpaper doesn’t have to be a flat surface. It can appear bumpy or embossed thanks to raised features and patterns on the surface, lending to your space an added element of tactility and fun. Greene’s been lining rooms in plush Ultrasuede wallpaper designs for years—which is a type of velvety overlay with a fuzzy surface—but textured wallpapers can also come in fine-corded linen or grosgrain-like designs with fabric woven into the wallcovering themselves, natural fibers like grasscloth, or boast a trompe l’oeil effect that cleverly resembles a 3D print within a flat design. “Plain painted walls can be beautiful, but once you put a textured paper in a design scheme, it takes it to the next level,” he explains.
Alonso loves using colorful textured wallpapers in his builds and prefers working with paper-backing fabric, specifically. It’s a method that involves adding strippable paper to nearly any textile (including thicker tapestry-like designs) to turn it into wallpaper—without the installation adhesive bleeding into the fabric itself. “These days with the development of printing and paper-backing techniques, there is a huge range of natural and specialty papers that have hand-painted applications,” Greene explains.
Of course, you can always opt for a patterned traditional wallpaper, which won’t have a bumpy surface, but can at least create the illusion of texture. There are also a growing number of stick-and-peel wallpaper designs, like Tempaper’s line of printed designs, that allow you to dress up your home without committing to one design scheme (or hassling with industrial adhesive) due to their sticky backing.
Here, AD spoke with designers on why the textured wallpaper trend is picking up steam, ways to go bold with it in your home, and what inspired them to incorporate texture into their own builds.
Interior designer Josh Greene recently launched his own wallpaper collection, including this grasscloth Offcut line.
Greene notes that textured wallpaper has an inherently sexy appeal, with endless possibilities for experimentation, prints, and finishes. “There are a million different colors to choose from,” he says, from hypnotizing geometric patterns like the swatches used in his designs here to botanical designs, animal prints, and more.
Designer Sarah Barnard showcases wallpaper textures plucked straight from the garden of Scalamandré.
For one designer, honing in on elements of a space’s physical surroundings helped her perfect a vivid tableau indoors that feels alive thanks to its textured surface. Santa Monica–based designer Sarah Barnard chose to accent the rich berry-colored curtains and green walls of this stately dining room with a botanical cotton and linen wallpaper that creates a lush forest landscape around the table. “The traditional design of the architecture and the local flora inspired an immersive environment in a pastoral palette,” Barnard says. She loves the way the woodland wallcovering nods to the historical use of tapestries as wall decor and offers a sense of time and place.
A close-up of the blooms that look like tapestry.
Pulp Design Studios shows that a powder room can be posh, all it needs is a bit of texture with Élitis Vibrations collection.
Designers Beth Dotolo and Carolina V. Gentry of Pulp Design Studios—which has offices in Dallas, Seattle, and Los Angeles—note that textured wallcovering isn’t a new trend by any means, as it’s been picking up steam for years, but that the “quieter drama” of wallpaper textures is taking center stage as people begin to want things that will make a lasting statement. “Having walls that you won’t tire of is important,” Dotolo emphasizes. The duo created an unforgettable moody backdrop in this powder room thanks to some reptilian texture from floor to ceiling that offsets the dark woods underfoot.
Designer Alex Alonso wraps up a bedroom in Schumacher Modern Toile textured wallpaper, as if it were a present.
And instead of dramatic jewel box paint colors on all sides of a room, consider going 360 degrees with your prints. Alonso used a black and white mod-toile fabric in this guest room for the drapery that was then paper-backed and used as wallpaper to “unify the design more.” Overhead, a different custom black and white wallpaper for the ceiling cloaks the entire room in prints.
Burlap on walls? Yes, please. Mr. Alex Tate Designs shows you how its done with a Pierre Frey Zeppelin pattern.
The whole point of wallpaper textures is to add unique character to a space, so why not go one step further with a bold pattern? Here, a splashy burlap-based fabric takes this guest room to new heights, punctuated by black accents that emphasize the dark lines in the walls. “At first it looks like paper, but when you get closer you see there’s a tactile quality to it because it’s paper-backed fabric,” Alonso says. “We also loved the handmade quality of the design on the wall, which gave the room so much personality.”
Interior designer Alex Alonso shows that textures galore is the way to go, especially when it comes to Schumacher Brimfield wallcovering that looks like a basket weave.
Even subtler, more muted patterns can add a gentle edge to an otherwise blank slate of a space. Alonso chose this mesmerizing print to offset the warm tones in this guest room. “This paper-backed fabric is such an intricate design that, to really appreciate it, you need to get up close,” Alonso explains. “The level of warmth it adds to the room is quite unique.”
Pierre Frey Obsidienne wallcoverings as a canvas for art, installed by designer Alex Alonso.
Think of wallpaper textures as an opportunity to sprawl with art wall to wall, like the graphic print seen here that resembles bold brush strokes. Alonso used paper-backed fabric to get the effect he wanted in this modern powder room, with walls that steal the show from the gilded furnishings. “As a printed paper, this design would really not have felt the same,” Alonso explains. “The fact that it was textured added such an artistic quality to it. It created the effect that it was an actual canvas on the wall.”
“The design of this bedroom took shape as we pulled together materials and patterns found in art and objects of that time,” says interior designer Jen Samson.
And don’t just stop at the wallpaper itself. Doubling up on texture with a painted design of your own creation can help you mimic the effect of a custom paper-backed fabric and enhance the tactile features of the underlying materials. Laguna Beach–based designer Jen Samson was inspired by her client’s large collection of midcentury Polynesian art for this vibrant bedroom, which features a painted mural by artist Ali Rybczyk on top of a green grasscloth Manila Hemp wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries’s line. The textured wallpaper was the perfect foundation for the design team’s custom mural, which Samson notes was “inspired by Tapa Cloth patterns often found in Polynesian pottery, fabrics, and tattoos,” and describes as “our modern spin on an age-old tradition.”
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