Cars can talk and wristwatches can deliver mail. Wallpaper makers are also bringing technology into their fold.
Some manufacturers are embedding LED lights into their designs to add shimmering effects. Others are using heat- and light-sensitive materials that cause changes in what you see on the wall depending on the temperature and light in the room.
With updates such as these, the old wall flowers are fading. Today wallpaper is more often the modern focal point in a room.
“Wallpaper brings life to a wall,” says Beth Keim, interior designer and founder of Lucy & Company. “I use it in almost every room I (design) because it gives you so many options for color, pattern and texture that you can’t get with paint.”
Wallpapers with LED lights or other new technology are not likely to be sitting on a shelf in your local home improvement store. To find these products, you’ll often need to shop online or work with a local designer or a designer with a connection to the manufacturer.
Look for embedded LED lights from Meystyle (at meystyle.com or through Designlush, http://designlush.com) and from Ingo Maurer ( architects-paper.com). For wallpapers with heat- and light-sensitive materials, consider Columbia Road ( http://bit.ly/YHiysi). Durham-based Spoonflower lets you design your own wallpaper and matching fabric. ( spoonflower.com)
Yet, it’s not just high-tech designs that led Better Homes and Gardens magazine to declare wallpaper one of the top decorating trends of 2014.
Even less futuristic wallpaper designs have undergone modern upgrades, especially when it comes to their impact on the environment.
Unlike the wallpaper that grandma hung in the kitchen – much of it made from virgin materials coated in PVC and hung with toxic adhesives – it’s possible to find wallpaper that is crafted from recycled materials, organic cotton and water-based inks. Manufacturers such as Graham & Brown, Wallquest and JiB Design Studio offer wallpaper made with FSC-certified paper, which indicates that the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council certifies the paper comes from responsibly managed forests.
When it comes to “green” wallpaper, renewable materials such as grasscloth and bamboo are the most popular options, according to Keim. In addition to the environmental benefits of using renewable materials, these wallpapers add texture to a room.
“There is a lot of beauty in the irregularities of the textures in natural fibers,” she says. “Layering multiple textures in a room makes the space feel cozy.”
Grasscloth and bamboo are natural materials, but they offer design options that extend beyond neutral colors. Designers such as Phillip Jeffries have gotten creative, adding color and embossed details to grasscloth wallpaper.
Even wallpaper paste has gotten a makeover. Instead of toxic adhesives, it’s possible to find solvent-free pastes.
Traditional wallpapers have been updated with options ranging from neutral colors and natural materials to bold prints and patterns – and designers are using them in novel ways.
In the bedroom, wallpaper can serve as a colorful backdrop for the bed. A bold print in the powder room can make the small space feel big and bright. Wallpaper can even transform the furniture and architectural features in a room.
Keim admits that wallpaper can be expensive, especially compared to paint, and the price per roll is often higher for environmentally friendly options. Don’t despair. Look for spots where a few rolls of paper will have the biggest impact – and you won’t be disappointed, Keim says.
“It turns a wall into a piece of art.”