10/10/2013 06:30 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Wallpaper adds richness to interior design, enjoys resurgence among homeowners

VICTORIA - The designs and styles of the past have been popping up in everything from music to fashion, and recently interior design has seen a resurgence in the use of wallpaper.

Throughout the 1960s and '70s wallpaper was used to cover entire rooms, but as with many trends people grew tired of it and adopted solid coloured walls.

"Over the last eight or nine years, I've slowly seen a wallpaper resurrection," said Ivan Meade, principal designer at Victoria's Meade Design Group.

"People have started decorating in a more traditional way, including window treatments, wallpaper and different upholsteries. The design esthetic is becoming richer again and is part of the design process."

While wallpaper may be an influence from the past, Meade said it is being used in contemporary applications and the materials with which it's made have been updated.

Unlike traditional wallpaper, current patterns are available in vinyl so that they can be used in bathrooms and kitchens to minimize the risk of mould growth and peeling due to steam.

"Grass wallpaper is also coming back big time and that was popular in the '70s, but the designs and materials now are different," said Meade.

Instead of wallpapering an entire room as was seen in the past, Meade said wallpaper in smaller areas is a great way to create visual interest or an accent wall.

He said nearly all of his current designs incorporate some wallpaper.

"I like to put wallpaper behind bookcases and on the faces of stairs that gives some visual interest," he explained. "We have also used it for a kitchen backsplash and put glass in front of it to protect it."

Even though wallpaper is being used in new bold ways, Stuart Stark, design director of Victoria's Charles Rupert Designs, has worked to keep historic patterns alive.

Stark started Charles Rupert Designs in the late '80s when he was working on heritage home restoration.

"In 2004, we decided to start our own lines of wallpaper because a lot of the historical lines that many of the established firms had done were being discontinued," said Stark.

"We thought there was still a specialized market there if you were marketing them correctly. Over the years we have been collecting a rather large collection of historic wallpapers."

Despite Charles Rupert Designs' focus on historic wallpapers, Stark said nearly 50 per cent of his clients are purchasing wallpaper for newly built homes or condos.

Many new condos and houses are painted in greys, beiges and whites and, according to Stark, homeowners are looking to wallpaper to add richness and warmth to their homes.

But before homeowners choose wallpaper, both Stark and Meade said there are some important things to consider.

"If you have cats, do not put up a sea grass or grass wallpaper," said Meade. "Cats just love to scratch at it."

While designers have seen small-scale prints work in large rooms, Stark and Meade advise it is important to consider scale and proportion when picking wallpaper.

Even though the do-it-yourself movement has encouraged a lot of people to tackle their own home improvement projects, Stark said he sees putting up wallpaper like doing your own plumbing or electrical work: it's better to hire a professional.

"There are people out there who are qualified and do it as a regular thing," he said. "The frightening stories of people threatening divorce over putting up wallpaper could be avoided by simply hiring someone who has experience lining up patterns and making sure corners match, along with estimating the amount of paper needed.

"We're finding more and more people are relying on professional paper hangers."