Intimidated by Wallpaper? We've Got You and Your Living Room Covered

It's hard to deny the transformative power of wallpaper. Its origin can be traced all the way back to the Renaissance Era when it was first developed as an affordable alternative to the tapestries and wall hangings gracing the most luxurious homes in Europe. Its popularity continued through the mid-20th century, when its use came to an abrupt halt as modernism and uncluttered interiors gained popularity.

Lately, we've seen a resurgence, and for good reason. There really isn't anything quite like wallpaper when it comes to putting a personal touch on a living room, infusing pattern, and adding color. Take any humdrum space, apply wallpaper, and voilà! You've got a unique interior full of renewed life. But we get that taking the plunge can be intimidating. After all, its sometimes hefty price tag and tricky installation can turn off most commitment-phobes — not to mention, the sheer selection is daunting. Stick with us while we walk you through some drool-worthy living room wallpaper ideas — from bold or minimal to traditional or modern, there's something out there for even the biggest skeptics.

1. Create a moody vibe.

Add dimension to a cozy sitting room without diverting attention from floor-to-ceiling built-ins by applying a subtly patterned wallpaper, as seen in this handsome space by Courtney Bishop Design. A nubby stripe rug in a range of neutrals anchors the space, while a collection of sculptural wood furniture warms up the dark-hued walls.

2. Go pretty in pink.

Tap into your feminine side and go with a traditional floral living room wallpaper idea on an accent wall to balance contemporary furnishings and fixtures. The New Design Project punctuates the predominantly pink design in this rosy space with pops of red for an unexpected dose of contrast that keeps the look from being overly precious.

3. Try a stripe.

living room wallpaper idea with graphic yellow stripe installed diagonally
credit: Chango & Co.

In case you missed the memo, yellow is the new black. We're suckers for a bold stripe, and Change & Co. goes all in creating a high-contrast hangout with lots of graphic elements, including a custom area rug. This eye-catching living room wallpaper idea is balanced by a substantial black sectional, which adds weight to the space and breaks up the abundance of pattern. An assortment of playful pillows enhance the whimsical decor.

4. Go big or go home.

An ethereal landscape mural by Designers Guild does the heavy lifting in this living room and allows the rest of the design features to take a back seat. A pair of natural wood chairs add to the organic vibe and bring plenty of warmth to the otherwise neutral space. Living greenery sprinkled throughout has a trompe l'oeil effect, making it hard to distinguish between the real thing and the backdrop.

5. Add texture.

living room wallpaper idea with turquoise grasscloth
credit: Nickey Kehoe

If you need a living room wallpaper idea that lets you ease into the world of wall finishes, embrace grasscloth. It's a great way to infuse color into any space without the commitment of an all-out pattern; it also adds a layer of texture and character that even the freshest coat of paint just can't compete with. Nickey Kehoe opted for a grasscloth in Tiffany blue to create a jewel-box of a room that starts with a neutral rug and is appointed with an assortment of one-of-a kind furnishings and artwork. A vintage chandelier grounds the entire space.

6. Soften contrast.

living room wallpaper idea blue and white wallpaper
credit: Murphy Design

Create harmony between two opposing colors by using a living room wallpaper idea that incorporates varying shades of those hues. Here, Murphy Design unifies bright white walls and a bold shade of blue with (removable!) wallpaper in pale navy applied as a feature wall. Touches of gold hardware are an elegant choice that elevate the overall look and balance out more modern pieces.

7. Add flair to a traditional room.

Be daring and mix striking wallpaper, traditional furniture silhouettes, and untraditional fabrics. This classically appointed sitting room by Fiddle Head Design Group takes an original direction with an Asian-inspired wallpaper print and furniture covered in a combination of denim and chartreuse. A Chinese garden stool used as a side table and bright color block print pillows add to the Eastern feeling and bring a formal sensibility to the casual material choices.

8. Coordinate with your sofa.

living room wallpaper idea with palm print to match sofa fabric above pink wainscoting
credit: Cole & Son

When you discover a print you love, why not use it on your walls AND your furniture? Cole & Son's retro palm print is available in wallpaper and complimentary fabric, making it easy to coordinate your furniture with your walls. Because ... why not? When paired with pink wainscoting, this living room has a distinct '70s vibe, reminiscent of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. A woven side table enhances the tropical look.

9. Remember the ceiling.

living room wallpaper idea with cloud pattern on ceiling
credit: sKout Design

Most people focus on the walls of a living room, but adding wallpaper to the "fifth wall," or ceiling, is a great way to introduce color and pattern into a space without overwhelming it. sKout Design uses a monochromatic print to create drama from above and add interest to a muted color palette. A peach throw and Persian rug add warmth and a touch of contrast.


Jaclyn Schatzow

Jaclyn Schatzow

Jaclyn Schatzow is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA