Forbes, March 2021
Author: Emma Reynolds
Why Wallpaper Might Be The Solution To Your Home Design Woes—And Your Mood
by Emma Reynolds
Wallpaper is nothing new, but it certainly has been a popular choice from homebound homeowners who sought to redo their spaces during quarantine.
For those who once preferred neutrals and naturally inspired materials and hues are realizing that staring at white and beige walls for nearly a year gets a little old. Amid lockdown from Covid-19, people are working from home, exercising at home and doing most things at home. This has caused many to redesign and reconsider the design of their spaces.
Wallpaper featuring live leaves, installed by Timothy Corrigan. AMY BARNARD
Interior designer Timothy Corrigan, who is based in Los Angeles and Paris, designs homes across the globe. Since the onset of Covid-19, he finds that color is one of the most requested things among his clients.
“The whole gray color scheme, or what designers call ‘greige,’ which is a mixture of gray and beige made popular by Restoration Hardware, could not be more dead in terms of what people are asking for and where the design industry is going,” Corrigan tells Forbes. “Clients want more jewel tones and saturated colors, which makes sense. You’re already sort of a little down and depressed that you can’t get out of the house and suddenly you’re surrounded by gray and beige. People want to infuse more life into their homes.”
Velvet wallpaper in a room designed by Timothy Corrigan. SIMON UPTON
Wallpaper is such a wonderful way to add visual interest. Corrigan says that today’s homes don’t have much architectural interest, like crown moldings, so wallpaper adds character to an otherwise white box.
“Wallpaper is a fun alternative for a room that may lack significance or architectural interest, like a powder room or closet,” says New York- and Hamptons-based interior designer Robert Stilin. “It adds charm and spark to spaces that may not have any. The client needs to be on board for a statement wallpaper, but like paint, there are endless options to play with until you find the right one. I personally like floral wallpaper because it can bring the outside in.”
Stilin’s work is clean and crisp but his fusion of antique and vintage furniture, modern and contemporary art and pops of color, like wallpaper, create very warm, comfortable vibes.
“Young people are using wallpaper, and they’re using it in very bold ways,” says Corrigan. “What I find interesting about wallpaper is that you don’t have to have a lot of art because it fills the space. And if you do have art, you have to be careful of the patterns you choose so they don’t compete against it.”
Broadlands wallpaper, part of Timothy Corrigan's collection with Fromental.
There is a massive variety of wallpaper on the market, but few do wallpaper like British luxury wall-covering atelier Fromental. Made from fine silk by expert craftsmen, Fromental continues the tradition of hand-painted, hand-embroidered wall coverings. The company’s wall coverings are like art. In addition to collaborations with interior designers, like Corrigan, Fromental has also partnered with luxury glassware company Lalique, which feature 3D attachés of glass birds and flowers that are connected by a strong magnet.
Corrigan has also worked with unique materials, like Cordoba leather, velvet and crushed pearls. For a project in the Middle East, the client wanted a sky on the ceiling with clouds, so Corrigan used crushed pearls for an opalescent effect.
A hand-painted ceiling mural made with crushed pearls. MARK LUSCOMBE-WHYTE
“We bought some fresh bags of pearls, crushed it up and mixed it into the paint,” he says. “People are experimenting with materials in all different ways.”
Heritage brand Graham & Brown, founded in 1946, also designs and manufactures more than 500 high-end wallpaper designs for every room, from plain wallpaper to damask, florals and so much more. They also can help clients create bespoke wall murals, which is something Corrigan’s clients are very interested in as well.
A hand-painted mural of Paris in a home designed by Timothy Corrigan. MARK LUSCOMBE-WHYTE
“We’re getting a lot of requests for custom murals on walls,” Corrigan says. “We've even got a project where we're doing a custom, hand-painted wallpaper depicting the family’s house in the landscape so that it feels even more custom and individual.”
It’s also not uncommon for clients to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for wallpaper. Corrigan has installed hand-painted wallpaper from the 18th century. In the 18th century, wallpapers were backed by a cotton muslin lining, so it makes them easier to transport from one location to another. Wallpaper with 18th-century hand-painted designs is almost like having museum-quality art on your walls. He’s also sourced incredible designs from around the world, including a company in South Africa that infuses real pants with glycerin until they are soft and supple and attaches it to a fabric backing.
A beautiful textural look can be achieved in the home via Manuka Textiles unique hand-drawn, silk-screen wallpapers inspired by nature. Founded by Los Angeles-based textile designer Roxana Eslamieh, the wallpapers feature bold prints, cityscape- and nature-inspired designs and unique design schemes. The wallpaper is also created at a U.S. mill that uses 100% renewable, wind-powered electricity.
For something a bit more contemporary, consider photographic wallpaper. Malmberg Studio, founded by photographer Robert Malmberg, recently released its first collection of wallpaper prints featuring still-life imagery of various objects and motifs photographed by Malmberg. The 11-piece collection features imagery of butterflies, cicadas, roses and more.
Not only is wallpaper something different, but it also adds a chic Zoom background for wherever you take your video calls, be it your living room, dining room or office. Plus, color makes people happy — and who wouldn’t want an extra boost these days?