Unique wallpaper designs add zing to a home

December 06, 2008



Creators Syndicate

Q: I happen to love wallpaper, maybe because I grew up in my great-aunt's house. She was English and had wallpaper in every room. Now, my problem is that I have a contemporary house and a very contemporary husband. We've been living with white-painted walls, but I'm bored. Any suggestions?

A: You haven't been doing your homework, pun intentional. Race to your nearest wallpaper store. Find a range of options that should please both your great-aunt's taste for traditional wallpaper and your husband's for cutting-edge contemporary design.

New and dramatic embossed "papers" - vinyls and other man-made materials - can take the flat out of your walls, adding interesting new dimensions of texture and color without the busyness of actual patterns.


"Traditional" naturals are also smart for modern settings. Try real grass cloth, suede, cork and metallics, which literally add a gleam to your walls.

And for the truly bold: There are fresh, bright, outright extroverted designs, like the pictured high-flying floral ("Mosaic Pebble," from Stacy Garcia Luxury Wallpapers, Roiling over the wall, the pattern itself is vaguely familiar, but exactly the right background for the room's black and white with red allover contemporary furniture.

Q: We are downsizing our life, moving to a two-bedroom condo from a four-bedroom house - thankfully, sold it before the current housing debacle. I tried to be merciless about getting rid of the accumulation of 24 years, but we still need more closet space than the condo offers. We're thinking of building a closet in one corner of our guest bedroom-home office. Any advice?

A: Who knows more about stretching space than an interior designer in New York City, where more people live in less square footage than the law should allow. We relayed your question to Michael Love, head of Interior Options design firm ( and inspired reclaimer of lost space.

Love's advice: Shave a foot off the floor space along the back wall by the door of the bedroom and enclose it floor-to-ceiling as a closet with sliding or folding doors. "You'll never miss that foot because you won't notice the closet from outside the room," Love promises.

More space-making tricks up the designer's talented sleeve: Mirror the wall between windows. Replace solid bathroom doors with French doors fitted with frosted glass. Sink a cabinet or buffet into the hollow space between sheet-rocked walls so it protrudes only a few inches into the room. Turn blank space over a door into a mock transom by framing a mirror with wood moulding.

Q: Looking for more living space in your own home?

A: Get rid of things you don't need, advises Carrie Greene, an organizational coach ( Easier said than done?

Not if you come up with the right "exit interview," says Greene. "Ask yourself, 'What am I getting back from this? Am I just keeping it out of guilt - say, because Grandmother gave it to me?'"

Greene sees three quick routes to making more space at home: regift (someone else may love it), garage sale (someone else may love it) or toss out.

Just don't look back, she warns. "The decision to let go is scary. But what you get in return is extra living space, extra mobility, more breathing room."

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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