And for those homeowners who want to go green, companies have responded with products that are both sustainable and stylish.
“One of the easiest ways to create an impact in a home is with the use of paint or wall coverings,” says Darron Andress, designer, FW Interiors. Wallpaper has really “made a strong comeback,” he says, as large-scale graphic patterns, natural woven textures, metallics, and flocking “can create high drama in any room and are available from many wall covering companies we carry.”
In addition, “personalized and customized wall coverings are gaining ground,” says Pat Walker, managing director of DLM Studio, and “will soon be quicker and easier to create online.”
Other companies are finding that the uncluttered look is more popular. “Less is better,” notes Frank Cohen, president of Sun Wallpaper & Paint, which offers both high-end wallpaper and paint. His designer, Pat Boyle, agrees and says today’s colors are “not as strong as they used to be,” as clients lean toward using softer hues such as beiges, taupes, yellows, and light blues. The effects of tone-on-tone combinations are also strong, she says.
For those consumers who are concerned with the possible health issues of wallpaper and paint, many companies now offer ecofriendly products. As FW Interiors’ clientele has become more environmentally aware, the firm’s designers are incorporating greener approaches and materials into the designs, Andress says. “Everything we do in our daily lives has an impact on our environment, even if it’s a simple task such as choosing a wall covering or paint.”
Among Andress’ green choices are Wolf-Gordon’s Organics wallpaper line, which is made of grass, recycled newspapers and magazines, biodegradable material, and Freshaire Choice paint, which contains no VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects).
Another green wallpaper choice is Graham & Brown’s new Eco collection, which evolved from a successful student design competition. Launched last fall, Eco is made from managed timber sources, contains no VOCs or solvents, and is packaged in compostable materials made from corn. Patterns include traditional florals and damasks in trendy colors, as well as fun ones including Urban Birdcage and Rainforest, two best sellers among the student competition winners. Each double roll costs $60.
DLM Studio’s line also now includes ecofriendly wallpaper called Solara.
But for those who prefer the look of plaster, eco-options are available as well. Walls are like a “canvas,” says Carol Baumgartel, vice president and co-founder of American Clay. “It talks about the people who live in that place.” Her company offers a natural, nontoxic earth plaster that brings an “Old World, and textural, earthy look” to the home, Baumgartel says, and is as “stunning” in contemporary environments as it is in rustic ones.
American Clay currently offers four products in its line, including one smooth finish reminiscent of Old World marble and another with crushed shells. An off-white collection will join the lineup this May, she adds, as those hues are more in demand. The cost is also very reasonable—about $1.15 per square foot, which includes two coats. To have it applied would run an additional $6 to $8 per square foot in the New York region, she estimates. However, classes are available for those who want to learn how to apply it themselves.
Decorfin USA is another company offering ecofriendly wall finishes that create the look of marble, metal, silk, concrete, stucco, fabric, or another material, says Roger Dubin, chief marketing officer. The company initially started with a finish that looks like Venetian plaster, but uses ecofriendly, water-based materials instead and takes less time. More than half of his customers go with the Venetian marble look, which Dubin says looks like glass because of the finish’s ground marble dust. Decorfin added two new treatments last year: Toscana, a rustic look reminiscent of the Italian countryside, and Capri, which utilizes the Venus Marble material but has more visible movement and texture in the application. For its finishes, the cost is about $15 to $24 per square foot, he notes, though the bigger the job, the better the price.
Faux finishes offer the consumer “endless possibilities,” says Cat Quinn, a decorative artist. The paints she uses are water-based, and the process is “as green as you can get.”
“These faux finishes are nothing short of true artwork and I’ve had clients decide not to add art pieces because they chose a finish that stands alone,” Quinn says. “Of course, creating a beautiful backdrop to all the personal treasures in the home is every bit as exciting.”
Covering the entire wall is not necessary to make an impact, however, as wall panels and stickers are becoming another popular wall choice.
For an upscale, textured, artistic wall treatment, consider Inhabit’s paintable Wall Flats tiles, made from 100 percent bamboo pulp, available through OOCK in Bedford. Designed by Mike and Jennifer Tuttle, Wall Flats can be used to beautify tough-to-remove wall paper or damaged walls. They can cover entire or partial walls, creating free-standing artwork that will make for a great conversation piece. Wall Flats, which come in 18-x-18-inch panels offered in five designs, can be installed using the optional adhesive tape for semi-permanent installations, tile mastic, or contact cement adhesive for permanent installation. OOCK sells Wall Flats for $86 per box of 10, with a three box minimum.
Mioculture’s PaperForms also add a dramatic touch to any surface. Three-dimensional square tiles made of 100 percent post- and pre-consumer waste paper, PaperForms can be arranged on the wall and painted to accommodate any consumer’s style. They come in packs of 12 for about $32 to $34 a pack. Mioculture also recently introduced the textile-like Loop by the Yard, which can be used in a number of surface coverings—indoors and out—and, in green fashion, be returned to the company when the user is done with it.
With so much innovation in wall treatments, homeowners can enjoy walls as creative as their imagination allows. And with so many choices, the hardest problem may be deciding which to choose.
Wall Décor Resource List:
- AkzoNobel (Freshaire Choice paint), Strongsville, Ohio, (866) 880-0304 freshairechoice.com
- American Clay Albuquerque, NM, (866) 404-1634 americanclay.com
- B&N Industries Burlingame, CA, (212) 912-3870 (New York office) bnind.com
- Blik Venice, CA, (866) 262-2545 whatisblik.com
- Decorfin USA New York, NY, (212) 308-8255 decorfinusa.com
- DLM Studio Cleveland, Ohio, (877) 746-7410 shop4wallpaper.com
- Faux Intentions Red Hook, NY, (845) 532-3067
- Ferm Living Aarhus C, Denmark, (501) 262-2243 (U.S. distributor) ferm-living.com
- FW Interiors Wappingers Falls, NY, (845) 632-3735 fwinteriorsdesign.com
- Gooruart Northridge, CA, (818) 426-5566 gooruart.com
- Graham & Brown Cranbury, NJ, (800) 554-0887 grahambrown.com
- Innovations New York, NY, (800) 227-8053 innovationsusa.com
- Mioculture Philadelphia, PA, (215) 925-9359 mioculture.com
- Mod Green Pod Austin, TX, (512) 524-5196 modgreenpod.com
- OOCK Bedford, NY, (914) 234-6426 oock.blogspot.com
- Sun Wallpaper & Paint Poughkeepsie, NY,(845) 471-2880 sunwallpaperandpaint.com
- Wall Candy Arts Long Island City, NY, (800) 347-0550 wallcandyarts.com
- Wolf-Gordon Long Island City, NY, (800) 347-0550 wolf-gordon.com