How to Choose Wallpaper

Jan 4, 2021 | Design, House, Wallpaper

Do you love wallpaper, but get overwhelmed when you try to figure out how to incorporate it into your own home? It’s easy to admire it in a restaurant or someone else’s home, but taking the plunge in your own home may be daunting. I personally love bold wallpaper and have used it in my own home as well as in client’s homes. This blog post will guide you through the considerations you need to make in order to find your very own perfect wallpaper!

Wallpaper samples from Wallpaperdirect

Before you start searching every website out there, narrow down your search by considering the following topics.

Scale and Pattern

It helps to first choose a pattern category that you like and will work in the space. This will help to narrow down your search options, but how do you figure out what you like? The options for wallpaper seem to be endless at this point, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices. You could easily get caught up in searching every website and looking at them for hours and days and weeks!

To narrow the search down you should ask yourself a lot of questions, what do you usually gravitate towards? Small scale or large scale, floral, geometric, texture? Think about rooms you have seen where you love the wallpaper, what did it look like? Are you looking for something to just add texture, or to make a bold statement?

The room you plan to use it in will also help to dictate what could work. Is it a formal room, a smaller informal room like a powder room, or a room that you want to be comfortable and cozy? Does it have a lot of odd angles or uneven walls? If so, stay away from stripes and patterns that are very linear.

Look at rooms you have saved in your mind or Instagram or Pinterest and see if they all have a certain type or look. What is it? Do they tend to have dark backgrounds, or be light and airy? Are they traditional like plaids or whimsy? You can figure what you like when you really think about it.


Just as important as scale, is color. You need to consider not only the colors of the room you are wallpapering, but also the colors of the rooms adjacent to it. The flooring, the ceiling, any furniture that you have in the room, all of these things need to be taken into consideration. If you can see the room from another room, all of the colors need to work together.

Wallpaper Samples from York Wallcoverings

Square Footage

Square footage will play a role in the cost of not only the paper, but also of installation. Depending on which paper you choose, your budget may dictate that you only do one statement wall, as opposed to the full room. Obviously, the less square footage you are covering, the less the cost. You can save yourself some grief by adding in a cost limit search term. One sample I really liked I later realized was $400 a roll!

I decided to wallpaper just this one wall in a bathroom remodel. This wallpaper is Woods by Cole & Son and I had been obsessed with it for a VERY long time. The pattern turned 60 years old last year, and my bathroom was included in the company’s magazine celebrating the anniversary! That was quite an honor. They even sent me a mug with this pattern and I use it almost every day.

Permanent or Temporary

There are so many options of removable wallpaper these days, so permanence is something you don’t have to worry about. Consider temporary or removable wallpaper if you are renting or if you think you will want to change it up in the future. Not every wallpaper will be available in both types, so be sure you are searching with the correct search terms.

The temporary and removable type can more easily be DIYed than a traditional paste type. If you plan to install it yourself and you have never done it before, I would recommend the removable type.


Ordering wallpaper samples is a MUST! If you learn nothing else from this blog post, understand that deciding wallpaper is a process and one step must be to order samples. You will want to look at them in the room at all times of day. Some companies offer free samples and others charge for them. You can also sometimes pay for a larger sample, which I recommend for large patterns.

You can also go to a wallpaper store and see them in person. Some stores may let you take sample books home, or they will order your samples. Certain Sherwin-Williams stores have wallpaper books, and depending on the COVID related protocols in place at the time you may be able to view them. Pre-COVID you could take the books with you to borrow and hopefully we get back to that some day.

You will be surprised at the difference of texture, print and feel of the samples, especially if you are ordering from different companies. Some prints are actually block printed, which gives them a cool texture, others have a slight shimmer to them (such as the one below), others can be flocked or metallic or embossed. You will not be able to see these details on your computer screen. It always surprises me when I see a wallpaper that I LOVE online and get the sample and don’t like it. The opposite happens as well, some wallpaper just looks better in person or has details that you don’t see until it’s in your hands

For example, in my dining room, I wanted something floral, bold and luxurious. I searched for floral prints and ordered several samples of large scale floral patterns. The gold shimmer of the wallpaper and the large scale lotus print was exactly what I was looking for, which I realized as soon as I opened the wallpaper samples. Here’s how it turned out.

I recently started following Ashley Whiteside on Instagram and she used the same wallpaper on her dining room ceiling. Isn’t it fabulous? I love it so much, especially with the pink walls. Don’t forget to think outside the box!

Dining Room with wallpapered ceiling by Ashley Whiteside


I personally always hire out the paper hanging step. I am great at painting, but wallpaper is another story. I’d rather pay someone else to hang it without lots of cursing and potentially ruining my marriage, haha. Plus, wallpaper can quickly add up in price, so you don’t want to ruin it during the install.

You should get an estimate from a paper hanger and also let them tell you how much you need to order. Since wallpaper has what is called a ‘repeat’ they need to figure that into the equation. It’s not just length x width. I honestly just let the wallpaper hanger figure it out!

The price of wallpaper will depend on which print you choose and how much you need of it. The installation costs range from about $300 for one wall to $800+ for an entire room. I’m sure there are regional differences in price, so this is just an example.

Taking the plunge

I hope by reading this blog post you have a better understanding of what you should think about when deciding on wallpaper. If you are still a little bit scared and apprehensive, start with a small room like a powder room, or one statement wall. You could do a wall behind the bed of your kids room, or the wall seen from your computer video conferencing background. I actually work from my dining room while on video conferences and people always comment that they love the wallpaper. If you’re still scared, use removable wallpaper, which will be easier to install yourself and is removable.

You will narrow down your search based on what you have determined given the considerations above. Let’s run through a hypothetical example: you have noticed that you prefer a small to medium scale geometric pattern. You plan to use this as an accent wall (due to budget) in your bedroom. The room cannot be seen from other rooms, but the quilt in your bedroom is blue, walls are white, flooring is wood, and you want to add in the accent color of orange. You rent, so it has to be removable. Search the wallpaper site for removable, geometric, and orange to narrow it down a little bit. Then save a few patterns that you like. Order samples of the ones that you really like. Once they arrive and you look at them in the room at all times of day, you should be able to spot the clear winner. If none of them work, order some more! Be careful to not get overwhelmed, which certainly can happen. You don’t have to look at very single wallpaper in existence to make a decision. Keep it simple and once you really like something, don’t over think it and just do it.

Real Life Example with a Client

The first step when I work with a client is having them fill in a design questionnaire. The questions are tailored to the project and include specific questions on wallpaper. Based on the input from this client I knew they were game for a large scale floral in their dining room, hooray!!

The dining room was adjacent to and visible from the living room and entryway, so we had to consider the green walls in those rooms, which they were keeping. The dark trim, wooden flooring, and colors of the furniture was also considered and we wanted to inject some pink into the space. I kept gravitating towards this whimsical coordonne print, Neo-Belle-Epoque. I put this option in the design, with the caveat that we would decide in person after the samples arrived.

They loved the coordonne print, but when the first sample arrived it didn’t contain any of the pink shades. The scale of the print is so large, and the sample was fairly small (8×10), so it didn’t contain all of the colors. I ordered another sample, which took a very long time to arrive so I ordered a third sample, haha. Lesson learned that for very large scale prints, order multiple samples the first time around or a large size sample if they offer it. Several weeks later I finally arrived (masked of course) at their home with the samples. Coordonne Neo-Belle-Epoque was the clear winner!

It was installed in their home and I haven’t seen it yet in person, but they kindly sent me some photos.

Coordonne Neo-Belle-Epoque wallpaper installed in my client’s Dining Room
Coordonne Neo-Belle-Epoque wallpaper installed in my client’s Dining Room
Coordonne Neo-Belle-Epoque wallpaper installed in my client’s Dining Room with Christmas Tree

Wallpaper Sources

Now, Let’s Do it!

I hope that you feel equipped to confidently choose wallpaper for your home. You will need to consider the space, colors, budget, your preference of scale, and then order samples! Once the samples arrive, a clear winner will likely result. If you are feeling none of them, order more! The process will take time, so don’t rush it.

If you are still struggling with your decision and want to hire me to help, you can! I can work with you on an hourly basis. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions [email protected]. Click right here to purchase an hour. You can send me pictures of your space and we can chat about it during a video call. Once COVID #s go down, and if you’re local to the Philadelphia area, I can visit your home in person.

I can’t wait to see what you do!



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