Wallpaper gets a bad rap. Many of us hear the word and immediately think of our grandparents—who we definitely love a lot, but don’t tend to take decor tips from. The thing is, though, wallpaper doesn’t have to look floral or dated. In fact, a lot of it doesn’t. There’s a ton of sleek, modern wallpaper out there—much of which would look awesome in your home.
Of course, once you’ve found a stylish roll of wallpaper that’s worth investing in, you have to figure out how to decorate with it. But don’t worry—there are tons of modern wallpaper ideas that will help you figure out exactly how to decorate with your statement-making find.
When shopping for wallpaper, don’t be afraid of bold prints and bright colors. Sure, they can be tough to decorate with, but they can also make your space feel incredibly fun. Plus, you’ve already made the bold decision to cover your walls in wallpaper—why hold yourself back now?
So much of the wallpaper we see is bold and graphic. But there are plenty of other options out there. So if you’re not loving the crisp patterns you’re seeing, opt for something totally different—like a looser, more organic print in a subtle palette.
Many of us shy away from decorating with dark colors, because they can leave a space feeling smaller. But that’s not always a bad thing. You don’t need a powder room, a breakfast nook, or a hallway to feel expansive—you need it to feel cozy and warm. And a darker palette can help you set that tone.
Pops of Paper
Remember, wallpaper doesn’t have to cover your walls. It can line your shelves, your drawers, and anywhere else that could use a pop of texture. So if you stumble upon a high-contrast print—one that’s a little too intense to cover a room with—consider using it like an accent piece, instead.
Wallpaper is often a total show-stopper—but it doesn’t have to be. By opting for a more delicate print in a subtler palette, you can add visual texture to your space without overwhelming it at all.
When decorating, many of us try to keep our spaces elevated and sophisticated. But there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun. If you’re using wallpaper to decorate a small space—like a powder room—why not choose a print with a little personality? It could make a tongue-in-cheek addition to your home, without disrupting your carefully curated aesthetic. Plus, it’ll probably put a smile on your face every time you see it.
Keep It Classic
Classic patterns—like polka dots—can add a welcome pop of fun to your home. Opt for a version that feels hand-drawn or imperfect. It will keep the pattern feeling graphic and textural, instead of allowing it to dominate the space.
Consider choosing a print you’ve never seen before—the more abstract, the better. The harder the print is to categorize, the more likely it is to look like a massive work of art, making your space feel like a wall-to-wall masterpiece.
An easy way to keep kitschy prints feeling sophisticated? Render them in an elegant palette. Emerald greens will make anything look luxurious—even a print full of galloping zebras.
Mix and Match
More traditional prints don’t have to be off-limits in a contemporary space. Just be sure to pair them with sleeker, more modern pieces. A rattan bed frame can make anything feel more of-the-moment—and a shiny silver dresser can, too.
Wallpaper makes a pretty easy addition to small spaces. But when it comes to bigger spaces, many of us get too intimidated to give it a try. The thing is, though, wallpaper can look great in larger rooms—like bedrooms, living rooms, and home offices. Just keep your palette relatively restrained, and opt for a print that isn’t dizzyingly bold.
Even subtler prints, like pinstripes, can make a statement when rendered in a stunning color. So don’t be afraid to bold with your palette. Emerald greens and sapphire blues are no-fail options. But you could just as easily opt for a lighter shade and pull it off.
If you’re not feeling the whole wall-to-wall wallpaper thing, don’t do it. Opt for an accent wall, instead. By covering one wall in an eye-catching print, you can add texture to your space—without complicating your decor scheme too much. What’s nice? One wall isn’t much of a commitment. So if you ever get tired of your wallpaper, you can swap it out without too much effort.
Wallpaper may sound like a maximalist endeavor. But it’s not totally out of place in a more minimalist home. Just choose a print that makes the most of white space—and consider keeping your palette pared-down, too.
A lot of wallpaper is sleek and graphic. But some of it is rendered in such realistic detail that it looks a little bit like a photograph. These heavily textured prints feel both daring and sophisticated, making them a striking addition to any space.
Blast from the Past
Don’t be afraid to play with super retro prints—especially if your space reads contemporary. They’ll add a little fun to your home. And they’ll look particularly interesting surrounded by modern fixtures and finds.
Small Spaces, Big Risks
Bold decor choices can look overwhelming in larger spaces. But in smaller ones—like powder rooms—they can look absolutely incredible. So don’t shy away from vibrant colors and striking prints. Pick a wallpaper that feels a little risky, and fill your (small) space with it. Worst case scenario, you don’t love it as much as you thought you might. And even then, you can just replace it with another option.
Layers of Texture
Covering your walls in a bold print can be scary. And adding any other decor to the mix can be even scarier. But wallpaper looks great next to antique furniture, sleek lamps, and art. (Yes, even colorful, graphic art.) Be sure to select colors, patterns, and textures that complement your wallpaper, and use white space to balance things out.
Statement-Making Starting Point
A lot of the time, we select our furniture—and then we pick our wallpaper. But what if you did things in reverse? If you stumble upon a stunning print, use it as your starting point. Then curate a few decor pieces that round out the room’s aesthetic.
Bring It All Together
Worried about your brand new wallpaper overwhelming your space? Keep the rest of the room simple. That’s a no-fail way to make your space feel balanced. (And remember, you can never go wrong with sleek white everything.)