When decorating a house, you may find yourself spending hours poring over books of wallpaper samples. But before deciding on a specific pattern, ask yourself whether you really want to wallpaper your walls. Keep in mind that all wallpaper is an imitation of nature or art and very repetitive, and though it can be very pretty and useful in creating illusions, it may be more of a hindrance to your decorating scheme than an enhancement.
Walls should be reserved for art and books, and almost always a solid, painted background is preferable to a printed wallpaper that may draw the eye away from favorite things.
What do you do, however, when you have an accumulation of pretty pictures but are a long way from having enough objects of scale to carry the entire surface area? In a desire to dress naked walls, the natural temptation is to employ wallpaper as a solution, though this decision may be shortsighted.
The main reason a lot of designers prefer painted walls to wallpaper is that you can instantly change the mood of a room by dipping a paint brush into a delicious, fresh color. Wallpaper is static, inflexible. Walls should allow for spontaneity and change, just as a garden is in a state of constant transformation. Wallpapered rooms lack freshness, seeming dated, stuck in the past, never evolving. And few people muster the time, energy, and money to freshen up a papered room every five years.
Many people are tempted to wallpaper a nursery or a little girl's bedroom, but it is wiser to put the money into art posters and paint over cork board so a child can display some of his or her own art in the room. Also, the ladybug-and-clover wallpaper in your ten-year-old daughter's bedroom will probably not suit her when she reaches high school age.
It can be argued that wallpaper is less expensive in the long run because it has a longer life span than paint. Wallpaper also hides imperfections and cracks in the wall that paint does not. But a solution to this problem, aside from wallpaper, is to put up a large wall hanging - a quilt or tapestry or other large art - that will cover major imperfections.
If walls are in bad condition, it is usually far more sensible to repair and paint the damaged areas than to use wallpaper as a cover-up. However, when walls are in really bad condition, canvas-back papers may be a less expensive solution to repairing the walls unless you do the repair work yourself. Canvas-back papers are practical band aids for large cracks in old plaster walls, and provide a textured surface and color.