Purdy's Wallcoverings appears in the May 2009 issue of SRQ Magazine.
Wallpaper, for some, conjures up images of disco-
fabulous 1970s starbursts and mustard yellow daisies. But the trend has blossomed for the better since the flower power era. It’s not a tacky, vintage fad anymore.
In fact, many contemporary designers are dubbing it “timeless.” Unlike flat, one-dimensional, one-hue paint, wallpaper adds depth, warmth and texture to a space—whether in stripes, spheres or tasteful florals. “We’re seeing a lot of revival trends with large, modern graphics and cool color potential,” says Alison Levin Bishop, an interior designer and the owner of Living Walls. “A lot of people want a faux finish or texture but don’t want to go through the hassle of having a faux painter and wallpaper is the way to do that.”
The question nowadays isn’t how to find fetching wallpaper but how to make time for all the catalog swatch sifting. To bypass the legwork, homeowners look to consultants such as Gina Purdy, owner of Sarasota’s Purdy’s Wallcoverings, who steers them toward the five hippest purveyors: York of Pennsylvania, Thibaut (pronounced Tee-Bo) of New Jersey, Romo from the United Kingdom, Jaima Brown from Illinois and Phillip Jeffries from Canada.
From there, clients select samples embellished with glass beads, granite, mica, Mother of Pearl, feathers, grass, sand, cork and woven hemp. “Some of the most popular styles today are large patterns, especially damasks and modern stamp motifs,” Purdy says. “Bright colors like lime and yellow are getting paired with deep purple, teals and soft grays.”
Riding the Color Wheel
Donna Thomas, a Lakewood Ranch Realtor, trekked the Thibaut and Jaima Brown route when redecorating her kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and children’s bedrooms. The two companies suited her home’s personality—traditional and classic—and had a slew of options for her gold, green and red palette. To match her cherry wood furniture and cabinets, Thomas created a tropical vibe in the kitchen with leaves and vines against a creamy beige base. One bathroom boasts a bouquet design in a sea of regal red, while another blazes in country yellow. “The wallpaper adds a whole other element to the walls rather than just solid paint,” Thomas says. “A lot of people are afraid of color at first, but when they see the wallpaper, they see the rooms come alive.”
Dave Weiner and Kyla Yeager, who live in the Kanaya high-rise in downtown Sarasota, went Romo for a boutique hotel ambiance. In the elevator lobby, the couple selected velvety black flowers with a white backdrop. In the family room, it was burnt orange circles against a black slate, and in the guest bathroom, black chandeliers floating in a white expanse. “I think wallpaper has changed so drastically in the last couple decades from your flowery nightmares to some pretty interesting textures,” says Weiner, whose home now has a European, urban contemporary vibe. “It makes a great conversation piece.”
Flocked paper, with its raised—almost velour—surface, is bouncing back from the 1970s, while nature-inspired patterns, stencil-like designs and metallics are being resuscitated. Movies and TV shows, from The Nanny Diaries to The Practice and The West Wing are featuring wallpaper in their frames, Purdy says. “People don’t believe it’s wallpaper because it’s so innovative now. You don’t notice it unless you’re paying attention,” she says. “You can have wall jewels in gold, silver or copper metal filigree medallions and Swarovski crystal starbursts. It can be really elegant.”
A little paper goes a long way, too. Keep a wallpapered room simply decorated with a few furnishings and adornments, and choose smaller, more demure patterns for vast spaces. Be unorthodox with the décor. Hang stripes horizontally instead of vertically, or apply paper to a featured wall or in place of a headboard, Purdy says. Tack it to the ceilings, inside bookshelves or to the backs of kitchen cabinets.
And don’t worry too much about future revamping. Products such as York’s Easy2™ and SureStrip™ don’t expand when wet, making paper easier to remove. Manufacturers are using recyclable sheets and aqueous inks and coatings that are free of heavy metals and formaldehyde. So you can love your wallpaper now, lose it later, or leave it as a legacy— one that doesn’t remind you of roller rinks and tube socks.
Written by Abby Weingarten, Photography by Gene Pollux
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