Wallpaper isn’t for the weak of heart. Painting is easier, low commitment and cheaper, but nothing adds chic style to a room quite like wallpaper. I’ve loved it from my teenage days when my floral wallpaper choice turned my bedroom into a lime, orange and yellow jungle. Over the top? I suppose so but I felt like I slept in the middle of a blooming garden – and it inspired my enduring love of maximal style. 

AFTER: The master bedroom in my small Vancouver condo was a good size – 11ft x 13ft with 9ft ceilings – but nothing special in terms of architectural details. The room doesn’t get a lot of sunlight so I wanted to keep it bright. My first choice was one of the latest one wall murals with a Chinoiserie pattern. Trouble is, those murals really need a higher ceiling to make an impact. And I felt that highlighting just one wall would look unfinished. To make a 40 year old cookie-cutter condo look extraordinary, I needed to go an extra step. Wallpaper by A Street Prints from Benjamin Moore. 

BEFORE: The condo is nothing special – a boxy space that had been painted a light grey. Before I moved in, I had everything painted white. (My bedroom ceiling was painted but not the walls since I knew wallpaper was coming.) I chose a soft cream colour scheme accented by brushed gold accessories. 

LIGHTING: The ceilings aren’t high (just 9ft) so I couldn’t install a fan or chandelier. I swapped out the conventional frosted glass dish fixture for this glamorous stunner by Aerin Lauder for Circa Lighting. Brushed gold is my accent shade so I wanted that reflected subtly in the wallpaper pattern.

DETAILS: I had the entire room papered – not just the feature wall behind the bed. Because the pattern is so airy, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic or dark. I popped my straw hat over the generic lampshade. Art panel is from Homesense. 

5 LESSONS I LEARNED ABOUT USING WALLPAPER:

  1. Plan wallpaper in more than one room. My small two bedroom condo has a theme – black, white and gold – which is set by the two wallpapered rooms. This black and white toile pattern is in my bathroom next to the master bedroom.
  2. I love patterns but wanted to keep the small condo bright. It doesn’t get a lot of light and there are no windows in the bathroom. I chose wallpapers with white backgrounds instead of darker or busier prints.
  3. Go bold. My rooms are a reasonable size so I chose to wallpaper the entire bathroom and bedroom. If the bathroom was a powder room, I would have likely only papered one wall. Otherwise, it would have felt overwhelming.
  4. Wallpaper hides old home issues like uneven textured and crooked settled walls. My bathroom walls were a mess of sloppy DIY restoration projects. This busy toile covers all old sins.
  5. Wallpaper is tricky to apply. Both papers I chose required priming the walls first and then pasting. The patterns needed to match so choosing where to start the process and then estimating the matching challenges takes time. I hired a professional installer for both rooms – smart move!

I’m thrilled with the results of my two wallpaper projects. They transformed my generic condo into a little jewel box that really reflects my style.