For a good chunk of my adult life, those who subscribed to the purity of contemporary architecture and design considered wallpaper a bit of a decorating no-no. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Canadian and American Shelter magazines like Metropolitan Home (now defunct though archived), Dwell Magazine or Canadian House and Home rarely featured it (well maybe House and Home did as they tend to have a little bit of everything to placate our tiny population) but, to the best of my recollection I don't recall wallpaper really having much of a presence in contemporary housing through the 90's.
That said, adding wallpaper to the decorating mix is making its way back with a vengeance. Except now it's called wallcovering...probably because the range of materials that can be glued to a wall now is substantial (paper, plastic, metal, grasscloth and even wood!). It started with daring designers a decade ago and is now filtering into the conscious of the masses. Patterns, colours, and styles seem to be more graphic, more fresh, more elegant, more anything but horrific. No longer are our wallpaper choices relegated to clocks and milk jugs amidst floral leafy arrangements like a lot of 70s kitchens had. Patterns like this:
Or in the 80s your parents may have had this in their bedroom or washroom:
Still, I will take this opportunity to admit that when I was a kid in the 70s I was always envious of my suburban neighhours in Oakville who had the wallpaper mural that was a floor-to-ceiling tropical sunset. I suppose this will make a comeback one day, as everything does right?
In fact, it already has! With technology today you can have any image or design made into custom wallpaper. Here's a current contemporary take on it:
So when I told my designers Coz and Jessica that I wanted to have a wallcovering installed in my sleeping sanctuary to soften the space and make it more luxurious without making it a focal point, they went to Industrial Storm on Queen Street West and returned with the perfect selection. It's by Carolyn Ray and is called 'Petit Marine' in Saltwater - which is a soft sage green with gold detail. The pattern has these gorgeous little mermaids and yet, from afar the pattern reads almost as concrete stucco. I know it sounds a little bizarre, but the visual contrast and confusion of seeing the pattern from a distance (is that concrete stucco?) and then up close (what, mermaids?) heightens the effect. After all, this is a converted brick and beam loft, so I like how the wallpaper unintentionally references how this building once was (a place of industry) while complimenting it now (a place of domesticity). Here's a close up of the pattern:
Meritview Decorating did a bang up job on the installation. It is perfection! The wallpaper covers the whole length of my bedroom, which includes a curving wall that contains my raised ensuite washroom (which I call the jewel box for its curving wall and clear round bubble skylight positioned over the round sink!). Here's a photo of my newly wallpapered bedroom wall located opposite my new bed.
This wallpaper was nearly $200 a roll! I kinda fainted choosing to pony up that kind of money but luxury has a price. At the end of the day the materials and installation came in at $3000. If I'm willing to spend that on a piece of furniture, then why not invest it on an 18 foot wall that you look at every day when you awake and fall asleep, right?
And here's the amazing retailer:
1099 Queen Street West
And here's the contact info for my brilliant trades:
71 Strada Drive, Unit 17
(no website available)
Coz and Jessica
1 Yorkville Avenue, Suite 5