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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Color, texture, pattern: Wallpaper is back in style

As with any home decorating choice, the popularity of wallpaper waxes and wanes with the styles of the day. But while paint can be simple or dramatic, wallpapers can add texture, decorating experts say.

Wallpaper has three functions, said Gretchen Kinne, a designer at Reno Paint Mart on East Moana Lane.

"One is to texture the wall," she said. "So, we have texturals that you can order that give the wall dimension. There are grass cloth, paintable textures and all kinds of three-dimensional products.

"Second is color coordination. You can start with the paper before you pick your paint," Kinne said. "Perhaps floral, for instance, if there's one tone (in the paper pattern) with vibrant contrasting colors, then you can pick the paint."

Finally, if you've just finished decorating a room and it needs a little nuance or accessorizing, wallpaper can furnish that final touch.

Wallpaper selection factors include not just color and pattern selections, but texture, durability, materials such as bamboo or grass paper, cleaning ease and water resistance.

To start, determine what room you're papering and if there are any special needs involved, Kinne said.

"If it's a kitchen or bathroom, consider washable or scrubbable paper, or paper that's resistent to water or is vapor-fast," she said. "If it's for something like a day-care center or hospital, you'd want anti-microbial and nonflammable paper."

If the paper is for a "period" house, such as an arts-and-crafts style of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, there are designs available specifically for the era, Kinne said.

Arlene Carter, a consultant at Fuller Color Center on South Wells Avenue, tries to get a feel for the personality and preferences of the person she's helping to choose a wallpaper.

"Color and pattern, it all comes again to knowledgeable people," she said. "I try to get a feel for the person.

"It's good to go to somone who will take the time to talk," Carter said.

Renee Lauderback, one of Kinne's customers, is remodeling her house now to include wallpaper.

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"I was raised with wallpaper. We had it in almost every room of the house," she said.

"We got to pick (decor) for our bedrooms," she said. "Mine was orange shag (carpet), with fun wallpaper, a wild floral spead in hot pink and orange.

"As I matured, I went for colonial floral wallpaper. I love it," she said.

Now, she and her husband, Donald, are working with wallpaper, fabric and paint in their 1950s-era ranch-style house. They plan to paper bedroom and bathroom walls.

When shopping for wallpaper, bring to the store a color sample from walls, furniture or carpet or any item to be matched, Kinne said. A designer can help with pattern and color choices. Her company also can provide a list of local wallpaper hangers.

"We tell people to get more than one estimate," she said.

Many papers are prepasted, Carter said. Look for sturdier papers for kitchens and bathrooms.

Some paper manufacturers can provide samples that customers can take home and try out on a wall, she said. And professional wallpaper hangers can help determine how much paper to order.

Now the trend seems to be to bolder colors and patterns, she said. Black and white are big. Specialized coverings include grass cloth and bamboo and fabric of all types. "Green" products are breaking out with recycled products and wallpapers that don't give off chemical fumes.

"I think that trend will grow," Carter said. "We're seeing a little bit of that."

It's even possible to have a personalized design made, Kinne said.

"It's not cheap, but all art can be reproduced," she said.

Wallpaper prices in the hundreds of sample books Kinne stocks can vary from $30 or so a roll up to several hundred dollars a roll.

"Some (samples) will knock your socks off," she said.

Before shopping, think about the square footage of the room and draw it out, Kinne said. Remember that each pattern repeats and a little paper is lost with the application of each strip. Wallpaper patterns repeat over and over again and how the pattern is arranged will determine how the final project looks and how much paper it will take to complete it.

Decide what the wallpaper is going to highlight, Carter said.

"What do you want in (the room)? What will you showcase?" she said. "In the bedroom, maybe you're showcasing a bedspread and you do not want a paper to take away from other things. Lots of time, you just want the walls to complement something."

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