The Mistake Everyone Makes When Choosing Wallpaper

This classic wallpaper mistake will date your home (and you!) by decades.

Wallpaper is not for the timid. It can be a bold statement to paste a pattern on your walls—a pattern that’s personal enough to reflect your style, but modern enough not to remind you and your guests of Great Aunt Sadie’s living room.

But when you do find that perfect paper to compliment a bathroom, entryway, or dining room, it can be home design magic. Tempted by the gorgeous designs available everywhere from your local paint store to sites like Anthropologie, Walls Republic, and Farrow & Ball? According to experts, there’s one secret to committing to a pattern you love: Go big.

“A lot of homeowners choose a wallpaper scale that’s disproportional to the size of the wall or room,” says Erin Gates, Massachusetts-based founder and principal designer of Erin Gates Design, and Elements of Style blogger. The tendency is to paper a tiny powder room in a dainty, minuscule print. While that might look nice, Gates says a sizable pattern not only looks especially striking in a smaller room, but it also visually widens the space. “A big palm leaf print or a sprawling abstract motif in a tiny room can trick the eye into thinking the room is larger.”

Go ahead and choose an oversize pattern for a spacious bedroom or living space, too, Gates suggests. In fact, in these spaces, don’t even think about choosing a small-scale pattern. “Tiny prints have the ability to get lost on a large wall,” she says. “More important, they can be very dizzying, especially when executed in graphic designs.”

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