How to Pick Wallpaper

Plain walls look fine in many rooms but, sometimes, you want your walls to really pop. Wallpaper makes a stunning statement in a variety of spaces, and it can be surprisingly easy to coordinate it with existing furniture and decor. Wallpaper can cover the walls in an entire room or create a statement wall that complements a neutral wall color. The print and colors you opt for can have a huge effect on your space's style, so choose carefully. Our collections include plenty of different shades and designs.

Choosing a Color

The right color for your paper depends on the existing decor in your space and the overall style you’re going for. If you have a classic or conservative style, look for prints that feature neutral, pastel or muted colors. Beige, light blue and rose pink make good options. If you want to use wallpaper to create a statement wall, match one of the colors in the print to the color on the rest of the walls. White walls are an exception to this rule, as these can work well with a variety of different shades. Furniture can also play a role the your color scheme. If you have a lot of wood or neutral furniture, almost any shade should work. However, bold upholstery colors may clash with bold wallpaper. If your upholstery is vibrant, choose a print that picks up the colors or opt for a neutral scheme.

Picking a Print

Prints have a huge effect on the overall look of the finished space, so this is an important thing to consider. If the room is smaller, it’s best to stick to a smaller print as large prints can overwhelm cozy spaces. Small-scale prints also work well with neutral aesthetics and rooms with lots of bold living room furniture. Large prints are excellent for creating statement walls. They also work well with simple furniture lines, so choose this look to match midcentury furniture styles. Personal style also comes into play. If you have a flair for the dramatic, don’t be afraid to experiment with a bold print. For styles that lean on the conservative side, pick a classic look. Prints are also a terrific way to alter the appearance of your space. Stripes and prints that run vertically can create the illusion of height. Metallic designs reflect light, so they can make a room look bigger.

Wallpaper vs. Wall Panels

Wallpaper and panels are similar concepts but there are a couple of key differences. Panels tend to consist of thicker materials, such as boards, whereas paper is thin and easily rolls up. Paper attaches to walls with paste while panels require installation. Wall panels work best on one or two walls so they are suitable options for creating statement walls. Modern panels come in a variety of styles that mimic the look of wood, bricks or tiles.

Installing Wallpaper

Before getting started, measure the walls so there is enough paper. Add several extra inches to ensure there are matching prints. Larger prints require more extra paper, whereas smaller prints usually only need a little bit extra. Many people think that installing wallpaper involves making a mess with paste, but this is no longer the case. Many of our west elm wallpaper selections are prepasted, so just use water to stick strips to the wall. Even if you choose a nonpasted option, modern pastes are easy to use. Simply mix the paste according to the manufacturer's instructions and measure the paper, leaving a few extra inches at the top. Coat the back of the paper with the paste or adhesive, carefully curve it towards the printed side to ensure the back doesn’t stick together and stick the paper onto the wall. Trim off the extra paper and repeat, taking care to match the prints when installing each strip. When installing wallpaper, be sure to cover the floors around the walls and drape old sheets or plastic over all chairs, sofas and tables.

Alternatives to Wallpaper

For those who like the look of a printed wall but want a more minimalist style, there are several alternatives available. A statement wall with decals or wall stickers can draw in the eye but may be easier to coordinate with artwork and photos.