You might not think that in 2023, wallpaper trends would still have the same appeal, but there's a longing for texture and pattern on walls right now that's making this wall covering an essential design tool.
Wallpapers have seen a huge shift in designs, styles, applications, and even functionality in the past few years. These are no longer just used for feature walls or to hide an unsightly vertical space. From textured varieties, 3-D designs, and maximalist styles to kaleidoscopic colors and larger-than-life prints, their stature and importance as an interior design trend has grown.
If you are mesmerized by the power of wallpapers, then you're in the right place. We spoke to interior designers and brands to understand what's next with this clever wall covering.
10 wallpaper trends to watch out for in 2023
'First of all, it’s important to understand that wallpaper trends move very slowly,' says Ross Taylor, co-founder of The Curious Department (opens in new tab). 'This isn’t fast fashion; here today, gone tomorrow. This is mainly because of the commitment it takes to cover your walls in a print designed to last for years.'
'Take, for instance, the jungle print theme that has been running for years, and hit its absolute peak during the lockdown, where people realized they couldn’t spend much time outside and so decided to bring the outdoors in,' Ross explains, 'but the jungle trend hasn’t gone anywhere; it’s still very popular and will be for years to come.'
'Although the trends are slow burning, they always have a starting point,' he adds. 'Sometimes that’s culture or an external factor like the pandemic.'
1. Large scale prints
Wallpaper makes a statement, and for many, this is the ideal way to represent their tastes and personality. Wallpapers allow us to show how infinitely unique we are. Whether you choose colorful or neutral, patterned or abstract, textured or flat, geometric or floral – wallpapers offer you several ways to add an impact to any space.
A trend that has been big this year and will continue to stay strong is the large-scale prints that can dominate a space. While using this type of bedroom or living room wallpaper, remember to choose scaled-down prints to complement the other elements in the room. You don't want the room to look overwhelming. Use the wallpaper as the anchor, and design around it.
'Larger-scale prints are a popular wallpaper design, adding a real statement to a room,' says Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador of Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). 'These eye-catching prints are great for creating a contemporary look in a room and offer an almost mural-style effect in the space. For those wanting to create an even bigger impact, opt for patterns in bolder shades, but equally, if you love the larger-scale designs but want something more subtle then neutrals are a beautiful choice.'
'Adorning your walls in wonderful floral-inspired wallpapers is a great way to bring a real burst of spring and summer into the home,' says Patrick. 'From the charming, undulating rhythm of Peony (opens in new tab) through to the almost breezy appeal of Wisteria (opens in new tab)with its lovely three-color print, they add so much character to a room. Reflective of nature, they are perfect for creating a soothing and restful scheme in a room, particularly on trend are yellow wallpapers, which offer a warm glow and are reminiscent of balmy summer days.'
If regular botanicals aren't to your liking, abstract prints too can be a great choice. 'Abstract botanicals have emerged as a huge trend for 2022, and will continue to 2023, following on from the love of biophilic designs,' says Chelsea Clark of I Love Wallpaper (opens in new tab). 'Often featuring organic shapes whilst keeping a connection to nature, abstract botanicals are a modern way of incorporating colors and florals in the home.'
These prints look particularly charming as bathroom wallpapers, hallway wallpapers, and other petite, narrow areas where their prints look a lot more charming and whimsical.
'This powder room is a perfect showcase for the Christian LaCroix Maison (opens in new tab) wallpaper’s extravaganza of exotic creatures and trees,' says Emilie Munroe, founder of Studio Munroe (opens in new tab). 'The paint was color-matched to the ground of the wallpaper for a seamless transition.'
3. Faux textures
While there are several varieties of heavily embossed wallpapers out there, a whole new trend of faux textures is taking the market by storm, that creates the illusion of unique surfaces taking over walls. These fresh wallpaper ideas can create an outdoor feel to indoors, or conjure a grand decor with a lesser budget.
'Faux textured wallpaper is also having a moment, allowing homeowners to get the illusion of texture, without the permanence of wood, concrete, linen or paneling,' says Chelsea.
4. Resurgence of 70s prints
Retro is back. Classic Art Deco and Baroque designs, large-scale geometrics, and abstracts aside, rich colors like orange, green, brown, and yellow will be seen across brands and in the market in the coming year. Consider adding these designs to unexpected places such as entryway and kitchen wallpapers.
'One of the trends we are most looking forward to is a resurgence of the 70s,' says Ross. 'Although 70s wallpaper prints can be incredibly bold, what we often see is that revived eras often express themselves in completely new color palettes.'
'The revival of the 70s is very much culturally-led,' Ross explains. 'Runways in Milan have been strutting reinventions of the iconic Emilio Pucci prints for the last couple of seasons. This will ultimately find its way onto the walls of people's homes, but it will take time.'
5. Striking mural designs
Wall murals range from elegant to modern, sleek varieties. These can also mimic renaissance paintings or scenic outdoors, and due to their overpowering, and large scale, do better in more open, communal spaces like the dining room or the living room.
Mural ceilings are a big new trend in design. 'Many of our clients in New York City are pushing us for more of a visual statement in their rooms,' says Jarret Yoshida (opens in new tab), a Brooklyn Brownstone designer. 'Wallpaper continues to get bolder and bolder, but I am steering them more and more to large abstract murals. Striking, without being specific, they make walls into a gorgeous backdrop that is, for me, a new 'paint' – encompassing, luxe and contemporary.'
6. Wallpaper in joinery
As well as used on walls and ceilings, wallpaper is being used more and more to add design details to the interiors of built-in millwork and luxury freestanding cabinets. This trend with wallpaper finds its stride in surprising uses - to lift corners, areas, and even unseen spaces.
'Using bold wallpaper inside cupboards and built-in joinery can be a great way of experimenting with color and bold pattern if you're a bit timid,' says Lorraine Aaron, founder of Curious Egg (opens in new tab). 'It'll be a surprise when someone opens the door to a cabinet. Don't forget the ceiling; sometimes referred to as the fifth wall; it'll allow guests (and you) to look up to a beautiful, whimsical scene as you're relaxing on the sofa.'
7. Paneled wallpaper
As mentioned above, trends in wallpapers change slowly but some broad types have had staying power for generations. One of them is paneling wallpaper. This is a style that converges two stunning looks – the rusticity of wood panels, offset by the softness of wallpaper.
In modern living rooms and bedrooms, paneled wallpaper is a fantastic way of adding a touch of class. It creates a snug feel in a bedroom, a welcoming tone in the hallway, a touch of formality to a dining room, or a sense of calm in a study.
'When it comes to installing, many people are choosing to experiment with wallpaper in less traditional spaces,' says Chelsea. 'Whether it be on a ceiling, in between wall panels or shelves, gone are the days of wallpaper simply covering a wall head to toe.'
8. Gold leaf designs
Metallics are dynamic by nature and have been a loved element in decor for eons. While gold decoratives and panels have been around for some time, gold leafing in wallpapers is an upcoming trend that is receiving a lot of attention. This addition not only adds an intriguing contrast to traditional spaces but also a sense of visual dimension and texture. A lovely living room, dining or bedroom ceiling idea, gold guided surfaces also bring more light into the room.
'This ceiling was guided with tiny gold leaves. And the light bulbs were chosen to fit the colors of the room,' says interior designer Victoria-Maria Geyer (opens in new tab).
9. Muted maximalism
Bold designs and large motifs backed by soft tones and muted backgrounds are what essentially define this trend. These types of designs are especially useful for functional uses, like zoning a room with wallpaper or hiding an unsightly wall. This way the wallpaper does not overwhelm or vie for attention yet makes a strong statement.
'While maximalism is still an Instagram favorite, we have started to see a form of ‘muted maximalism’ which is essentially a heavy and textural pattern, in light muted and tonal color washes,' says Ross. 'It enables people to create a lighter canvas on their walls with detail and interest.'
10. Wallpapers across rooms
A great way to create an illusion of extended space, width, and length is by the power of repetition. By using the same hues or patterns across walls and spaces, you create a feeling of depth and endlessness.
Consider adding wallpaper in a passageway, and along the corridor to another room. This will make the hallway seem longer, and as though, part of the room it is leading to. If you're adding wallpaper to more than one room, a wise idea would be to choose a more muted or subtle design.
'When it comes to installing wallpaper, we'd always recommend using a professional decorator as it'll avoid any issues,' says Emma Deterding, founder of Kelling Designs (opens in new tab). 'They'll be able to measure exactly what is needed to ensure you have enough wallpaper and ensure any repeats etc won't be problematic. If, however, you are keen to do it yourself, then I'd start by making sure you know the exact width of the wallpaper you are going to use. You then need to measure each wall you intend to paper, measuring the width and height in inches. Remember if you are papering multiple walls and they have the same height but different widths, you can simply add the widths together and work to the same height.'
'To work out how many rolls you'll need, you then need to divide your wall width by the width of the actual paper to figure out how many drops you need, and then multiply the number of drops by wall height to give you the full amount of paper needed to cover the walls properly,' says Emma.
Is wallpapering still a trend?
Wallpapers have never gone out of fad, although their styles, prints, colors, and even usage have evolved over the years. No longer are wallpapers only used to create a living room, hallway, or bedroom accent wall. These are now used inside millwork, to divide rooms, in between wall panels, and on the ceiling.
Floral or abstract prints apart, wallpapers also showcase mural designs and even Renaissance art. These help anchor the design theme of a space and add oodles of style to the home.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.