If Your Walls Could Talk

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Painting is easy and it doesn’t have to be a blank wall-it can have texture and patterns. Photo courtesy of Wild Horse Studio/Rebecca Kunimoto

They are the background of every room; they set the tone for your house; they are the first way that you begin creating your environmentthey are your walls. These surroundings to each room provide plenty of space for ingenuity and inspiration, and with recent technological advances, fashioning a new mood has never been easieror more fun. From paint to wallpaper to (yes) leather, todays wallcoverings are only limited by the imagination.

Simply paint
Starting with the basics, there is paint, which really can be anything but basic. Designers are heading for colors that range from calming, soothing neutrals to cool tones like watery blues and lavenders, to rich warm colors. If it sounds like any color goes, it does.

There are no rules with color; have fun with it, says Scott Allen, a designer at Sacred Space. Neutrals are huge in design right now. Starting with creams, whites and bisques, we go to gray hues in concrete and putty; then move to delicious organic browns of coffee, walnut and chocolate. Sounds delicious, but whats even better is that color trends do not stop there. According to Allen, cool ocean blue-greens and purples are causing a stir, as are warm pinks and deep rich reds with hues of spices and natural dyes. And lets not forget orange, this years biggest accent colorthe brighter the better, he says.

It is also not necessary to stop the paint at the wall because people are now painting ceilings too. Ed Albizures of New Dimensions Painting recommends painting the entire room and the ceiling in one warm color with a slightly glossy paint to create an intimate atmosphere.

[Paint is] probably one of the easiest and most affordable ways to change your home environment, Albizures says. While painting the ceiling might seem a little daring, finding the ideal color for a room does not have to take long searches through color wheels. One simple way to find the right color is to look through magazines, bring photos to the paint store and have colors matched.

At Spectrum Paints Inc., an Atlanta paint manufacturer with seven stores in the metro-area, all employees are able to match color, and something they are seeing a lot of at present is faux finishing. Basically, faux finishes can look like almost anything and can be tried and perfected on cardboard before hitting the walls.

Right now, the forecast is really deep tones for interior walls and a lot of faux finishes, says Paige Turner, a store manager at Spectrum Paints. What is the best part about trying something new? All you have to do is paint over it if you dont like it, she says. She particularly likes the satin finish paints because they look flat straight on, but are silky to the touch, are durable and clean well.

This mural, which is actually wallpaper, looks great in this home gym. Photo courtesy of Totally Custom Wallpaper

Wall hangings
With the help of technology, wallpapers have become a lot more user-friendly than they once were. Larry Duval of Larry Duval Wallcovering Service is excited about a new non-woven dry strippable wallcovering, which is a complete system that includes priming the wall instead of the paper. After a curing period, the covering can be stripped from the wall dry. Anyone who has tried to remove wallpaper knows what an advancement this new paper is.

Theres no more fuss, no more muss, Duval says. The paper is already being used, but has not yet earned wide exposure. This should revolutionize the industry.

Other advances have taken place in the wallcovering industry, so that paper resembling faux finishes are now available. Paper can give you texture, depth and style, Duval says. The thing isthere are so many options, so many choices with paper.

For designer Allen, wallpaper can be a chance to add both color and depth to a room.
Focus on textures such as grass cloth and woven wallpapers, Allen says. A lot of new companies are putting out amazing wallpapers using natural materials that are renewable and sustainable resources. Some materials being used are silks, sisal, handmade paper weaves and bamboo.

Another option, which allows designers to be very creative, is custom wallcovering that can feature murals, photographs and repeating patterns. At Totally Custom Wallpaper, digital imaging is used to create just about anything on a 15 ounce Type 2 wallcovering that is washable, scrubbable, abrasion proof and meets all fire codes.

We basically take any image, whether its a photograph or fine art, capture it and then create a mural, says Glenn Robins of Totally Custom Wallpaper. The options are endless. He says that fine art is a popular choice right now and instead of having a big Mona Lisa on the wall, his company can introduce clients to living artists with less pervasive images.

Leather, wood and tile, oh my
And for those who would like to be truly unique, step outside traditional ideas of paint and wallpaper and into wallcoverings such as leather and wood.

Leather tiles and wood veneers are currently my favorite coverings, Allen says. Nothing adds richness like leatherit softens the wall while giving structure from the tile pattern. Wood veneers have come along way in the past couple of years. Its the quickest way to achieve the luxury of a reading library at a fraction of the cost. But dont think its for dens onlythe look can be quite modern as well. Wood can actually be used in almost any room.

On the whole, the message about wallcoverings is one of infinite possibilities. Walls give homeowners a chance to get creative without necessarily making an everlasting commitment. Whether choosing paint, wallpaper, wood or different types of tiles, wallcoverings can be used to reflect personality and be the foundation for the environment of any room.

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