After picking our favorite (trusted and tested) black and white paints for our first D*S Black Book posts, this next one was much more difficult. Wallpapers are something people seem to fear even more than bold paint choices, and they’re such a time-consuming design element to install that you want make sure you’re working with a good-quality product that you’ll love for years to come. The bottom line is this: except for the super basics (stripes, dots, etc.), all patterns may wear on you after living with them for a long time. And for some people, having a wall full of pattern will always be too much. So this guide was made with the following in mind: patterns we feel are beautiful, papers that are well-made and styles we feel will are strong enough to last the test of time (even if you’re seeing a lot of them online these days). These are all patterns our team loves, have worked with and feel will be classics in their own right one day- if they aren’t already now. I’ve made notes on each pattern for ways to use the pattern that we think will enhance its more “timeless” qualities. Some patterns are fantastic in full-scale and some are better used long-term in a small dose, like a bathroom or closet. I hope you’ll enjoy this festival of pattern as much as we did! xo, grace
Click through for our 12 trusted wallpapers after the jump…
Nethercote by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West: Amy and I both love this traditional-meets-modern wallpaper designed by Julia Rothman. For me, its strength is in the way it works for all ages. It’s fun and playful enough for children but classic enough for more grown-up spaces. Julia’s pattern was inspired by traditional folk patterns but we think the modern twist that Julia’s illustration style brings will make it a great paper to use for years and years to come.
Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler for Schumacher: This wallpaper has been burned into my mind since I saw its green colorway used in the hallway of Chloe Sevigny’s Manhattan home. The unfinished photos were at the House & Garden office back when I was working on their web team and I haven’t forgotten the impact they had on me then. While the colorway may be a bit preppy for some, it’s a classic pattern that, when used in a range of colors, feels appropriate for a number of settings and styles. It’s quite bold, but I think it’s simple two-color style makes it much easier to use than people expect. I think this pattern in Parchment/Midnight is as close to classic as a bold pattern can get.
Image via House & Home
‘South Beach’ by Thibaut: This pattern feels a bit retro, but the colorways keep it from veering too far into dated territory and keep it firmly in the classic category. With a bit of beachy flair, this floral pattern is perfect in its pale aqua colorway. Florals never fail to be in style and while this pattern may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think it’s something that looks fantastic in almost any room- even in small doses. I’ve seen this used in every colorway in a wide range of homes and it always looks fantastic. Two thumbs up for such an adaptable pattern!
‘Woods’ by Michael Clark for Cole & Son: I went back and forth on including this wallpaper, but ultimately landed on including it for one reason: I still love it and remember it fondly. This paper got majorly overexposed during the early Domino Magazine years. It was the precursor to “Keep Calm” madness and seemed to pop up in everyone’s home. I had to stop looking at it for a while, but when I thought about wallpapers I love and still love seeing in people’s homes, this one was literally the first I thought of. Nature is timeless, so I think the strength of this design (which was actually created in 1959) is that it may go through bouts of overexposure, but the design itself is beautiful and classic. I could do without the more extreme colorways, but the simple black and white style is simple and perfect. I think this paper works best as an overall paper, rather than an accent wall. It got heavily used as an accent wall in the last decade and I think the all-over look really lets the pattern shine.
Image via Sunset Magazine
The entire Grasscloth Line from Twenty2: Twenty2 was all over the place when I first started blogging ten years ago and their grasscloth designs are still in the back of my head all the time. While the non-patterned designs are perfectly lovely, I really enjoy the subtle prints they put on top of the grasscloth, like gingko leaves and simple geometric shape. I think these would be just as beautiful now as they would be 20, 30 years from now. But they have that classic feeling that makes me feel like they could be unearthed in the coolest retro apartment, too.
Image above: Rita Konig’s entryway, via Domino Magazine
‘Perroquet’ by Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little: This wallpaper is delicate, feminine and bold at the same time. The rich black background makes the design feel just edgy enough that it doesn’t pass into overly-twee territory. We’ve all seen this paper used in countless celebrity homes and in magazines- with good reason. It’s such a sweet pattern that has the ability to work in large or small-scale use. Entryways feel dramatic when papered in this pattern and full rooms, because of the spread-out nature of the repeat pattern, can handle the look with ease.
‘Minaret’ by Osborne & Little and Hicks Hexagon by David Hicks, from Cole & Son: A bold geometric can be hard to pull off if you’re going for a ‘subtle’ room, but a classic patterns like this have a feel that seems to transcend time. While they can both have a mid-century and even a bit of a 70’s vibe, they feel bright, bold and clean- something that never goes out of style. I prefer these papers in a small space like a powder room or closet, I think it allows the pattern to shine without feeling too overwhelming- especially when you’ve got a shiny finish like the Hicks’ pattern.
‘Apothecary’s Garden’ by Charles Voysey, from Trustworth Studios: Voysey designed this pattern in 1926 and Trustworth acquired all of his designs, which are now digitally printed in Massachusetts. While this is indeed a busy pattern, it is quite simply stunning in person. Amy Merrick used this in her home and we had the pleasure of seeing it up close when we photographed her apartment for Design*Sponge at Home. I think a design this traditional in nature is something that rarely feels too ‘of the moment’, which I think is everyone’s fear with wallpaper. This sweet design is so perfect for a child’s room, but, as Amy’s home proves, it’s equally stunning in a sophisticated adult space, too.
Image via Porters
‘Sprinkled Spots’ by Porter’s: Dots. They’d seem easy to paint or stick on with stickers, but sometimes a wallpaper gets the distance between dots perfectly and makes your life much easier. Porter’s black and white dots are simple, adorable and work VERY well in large-scale formats. I think they’re equally cute in a small space, but I feel strongly that a room of these done in full wouldn’t feel dated quickly at all.
‘Fireworks’ by Albert Hadley for Hinson and Co (Call to order, the pattern is available in small quantities): This paper seems to have been discontinued, but it is still available in small quantities through Hinson and there seem to be a number of people selling rolls directly through their interior design businesses, Etsy and Ebay. This pattern is a classic. It’s got that handmade feel with a dash of retro thrown in, but the look is timeless. It’s an exuberant burst of line that would cheer up any child’s room or a grown-up room, too. I prefer this pattern in smaller doses like a closet, bathroom or a small kitchen. It works exceptionally well when broken up by a chair rail or other divider like a partial wainscoting installation on a wall. I think the black and white colorway is the most classic, but the red is pretty fantastic, too.