There are few decoration tools that have been around for as long as wallpaper. Its history can be traced back centuries or perhaps even millennia. The desire to decorate the wall of the space we live is a basic, almost innate instinct. One needs to consider the cave paintings left by our ancestors during the Stone Age to get an understanding of how the need to embellish our quarters were not exactly born yesterday. The first version of the contemporary wallpaper in the west can be traced to the Middle Ages, in the form of tapestries, used in palaces and castles of the wealthy classes with the dual purpose of decorating rooms with symbols of their power and wealth and making cold stone walls a little warmer. The industrial revolution brought along an ever-increasing penetration of wall furnishings. The rise of mass production techniques lowered their cost to the point where wallpaper was no longer a luxury only for the wealthy, but a decorative tool within the reach of the growing middle class. For a very long time, however, wallpaper maintained a conventional design that followed traditions, limiting itself to discreet floral patterns and inconspicuous colors.

This changed with the social revolution that took place in the western world during the 1960s and 1970s. Suddenly, as if centuries-old dams had been broken, everything old or traditional was questioned and rejected. All colors, patterns, and combinations were possible and encouraged. Nothing was excessive or “too much”. In the era of ‘flower power’, yellow or orange walls with large, bold graphic motifs appeared on the walls of houses and shops from London to Frankfurt. This was the golden age for wallpaper, with hundreds of manufacturers in Europe competing to bring to market the most futuristic and daring models.

Perhaps as a reaction to the excesses of those decades, the following twenty years focused on the very opposite. Bare white walls were in, as well as the pursuit of an exaggerated minimalism that was for years the trademark of a well-known Swedish furniture manufacturer in yellow and blue.

In the last few years, however, this has all changed again as we collectively moved to a new era where color, personalisation of the living space, and the desire to live in interesting and renewable environments dominates the scene. We live now in a world dominated by social media, where the need is to keep up with the times and fashions, frequently changing one’s interior is continuously pushed by Instagram and Pinterest. This is the ideal playground of wallpaper.

Renovating the home frequently is a far costlier endeavour than buying a new jumper or getting a haircut: the investment required is higher, as is the work required to give new lustre to a living room or bathroom. Wallpaper is the ideal solution as it is cheap, easy to use, and has a great impact when it comes to giving a new patina to a room that is no longer up to date. Wallpapers have meanwhile made great strides in recent decades and now offer a wide variety of fabrics and materials with unimaginable characteristics compared to those you remember from your grandparents’ kitchens.

Sustainable and compostable models

Respect for the environment is always a topical issue and involves all areas of life, including interior design. There are a small number of new eco-friendy wallpaper models on the market that offer fully compostable solutions.

To achieve this, these wallpapers are produced using only environmentally sustainable materials such as hemp and linen and, if installed with ecological glues, once their use is over, they can be easily thrown into the composting bin to decompose and return to the environment within a few weeks without releasing any toxic substances into the environment. In addition to being environmentally friendly, these wallpapers have other advantages, as they have excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties.

Easy to install and clean

Most modern wallpaper designs are based on a non-woven fabric layer. This material makes them easier to install and remove. There is no longer any need to call in professionals and calculate soaking times with the wallpaper sheets soak up the adhesive. Now, all it takes is a brush to distribute the glue directly on the wall and place the wallpaper in position immediately afterwards. Modern wallpaper models are also much more durable than paper-based wallpaper and can be cleaned easily, especially if coated with a vinyl layer

New solutions for bathrooms and kitchens

This brings us to another innovation of the last few years: installing wallpaper in wet rooms like a bathroom or where heat and splashes are always present like a kitchen was once unthinkable. This is no longer the case since models that add a waterproof vinyl coating have been introduced.

A vinyl layer offers many advantages: it makes wallpaper waterproof, heat resistant, and incredibly easy to clean with a simple damp cloth. There are even solutions that allow them to be used behind the hob, replacing old and expensive tiles.

By Rob