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What is neutral wallpaper?
In the fashion world, neutral is sometimes mistaken for boring. When it comes to interior design, neutral wallpaper is a great way to add visual interest to your walls without distracting from the overall design. Typically, this involves colors and patterns that complement the rest of your design elements without overpowering the space. If you find just the right wallpaper, you will be able to incorporate it into your design – even if your style changes over time.
Choosing the right wallpaper – where to start
What’s your style? Do you like to mix bold patterns and colors or do you prefer a monotone palette? Neutral aesthetic wallpaper doesn’t have to be limited to shades of gray or beige. A muted pattern and shade of just about any color can serve as the perfect background for an eclectic home or one with a consistent theme – I’m looking at you modern farmhouse fans!
The key to finding a timeless design is to consider a room’s current use as well as any future plans. Is your home gym going to turn into a guest room or a nursery? Maybe your kids have grown and you can finally build the office or craft room of your dreams.
Besides, it’s easier to swap out throw pillows, shelf decor, and greenery than it is to change paint or wallpaper. My entryway has wall molding that gives the white walls texture and pattern that makes a statement without slapping you in the face. Neutral wallpaper can have the same effect. Plus, it’s a great way to decorate a big blank wall!
Classic wallpaper patterns
Obviously, wallpaper has been around for a long time. Every generation thinks that something our parents or grandparents had is outdated and old-fashioned. The exception will be our kids because we have impeccable taste and there is nothing uncool about us. Anyway, many traditional patterns have been given a modern twist and are making a comeback! Here are a few of my favorites that won’t let you down:
- Plaid – I won’t do a deep dive into every variation of the vertical and horizontal bands, but I’m betting you can easily find one to work into your home. From Tartans of Scottish Clansman to the distinct Burberry pattern, plaid is EVERYWHERE!
- Geometric/Block – this tends to be associated with a modern look, but that isn’t always the case. Plenty of patterns have soft lines instead of bold colors and sharp angles.
- Floral – I promise this can be done without granny vibes. With the right combination of light colors and small print, this stunner can add a feminine touch to the toughest of spaces.
- Toile – a charmer that gets me every time…when it’s done right. You can’t exactly do this one in a small pattern, but you can certainly make it neutral with lighter colors.
- Tropical – another nature-based pattern that can be soothing if done in a toned-down manner. These can get a little wild!
- Textured – walls that need a subtle update can benefit from textured wallpaper. Grasscloth will do the trick better than a raised damask pattern (promise me you won’t use traditional damask).
Tap the image to shop these neutral wallpaper patterns:
Serena and Lily wallpaper in my home
The Serena and Lilly brand has long been associated with high-quality home decor and furnishings with a coastal style. It makes me think of a breezy life on the coast with an upscale twist – quiet luxury. The scalloped rattan nightstands in my girl’s room and the versatile shore bench are some of my favorite furniture pieces. When it came to choosing a neutral aesthetic wallpaper pattern I knew right where to start!
In my original basement home office, I chose the S&L Wentworth wallpaper in Fog. The pattern captures the look of vintage tilework yet adds a soft touch that can be both feminine and neutral. Paired with a new desk and chair, it was the perfect spot to work.
Thankfully, I chose neutral wallpaper for this space because not long after I put it together, my home office became a guest room. I moved my office to the main level and now my guests have a private space with their own bathroom.
My daughter’s bedroom has the Luna Stripe wallpaper in Smoke. The intricate details of the large block print were the perfect match for the other patterns used in the room design. I only did one wall in her room and if you’ve been following along for a while, you know I’m not a fan of accent walls (sorry, guys). Stay tuned for future updates to this room!
Perfect plaid for masculine spaces
My boys shared a room for years. We made some significant changes to maximize space and create unique storage for them, but now that they are a little older, it was decided they needed their own space.
The guest room was moved to the basement so we created a new boys’ room with subtle masculine touches. We liked it so much, we got the same bed for both the basement guest room and the new boy’s room, just in different colors.
I found the perfect neutral wallpaper for this space; a check plaid with the description listing beige, coffee, sepia, grey, and dove as the blend of colors. I knew it would be no problem designing a room around that!
Straight lines and symmetry are what draw people to plaid. You’d think this would make the whole process of hanging it much easier, but you definitely need a level to make sure it is straight. While I’m happy with the result, I initially had a hard time with this pre-pasted wallpaper. Just so you know, using a spray bottle is less messy than soaking each piece!
Neutral Nuvolette wallpaper creates calmness
Are you wondering what nuvolette means? It’s the Italian version of “puffy little clouds” and what could be dreamier than the muted tones of this stunning neutral wallpaper? We remodeled our primary bathroom and closet and the star of the design is the marble features. Nuvolette wallpaper was the perfect choice to complement both rooms without stealing the show.
I liked it so much, I put it in our primary bedroom too! Paired with my fluffy bed, this wallpaper creates the perfectly serene environment that a bedroom should be. See what I mean?
Things to consider – neutral (or any) wallpaper
- Focus – what do you want to be the center of attention? You might have some amazing furniture or light fixtures that you want to be the center of your design.
- Visibility – in most homes, you can see into a couple of different rooms from where you stand. Make sure you choose cohesive colors and patterns for a polished look.
- Follow directions – be sure to follow the instructions that come with your product. Just because you’ve had success with one method doesn’t mean it will work for another. Some manufacturers recommend rolling paste onto the wall while others suggest applying it directly to the back of the wallpaper.
- Things get messy – you’ll be working with adhesives and it’s tricky to make sure patterns are lined up when you have sticky surfaces. Wear old clothing and have plenty of towels on hand.
- Have the right tools – a laser level and a fresh, sharp blade are imperative to successfully hanging wallpaper.
- Temporary alternatives – if you live in a rental or want to test out the look of wallpaper, there are some really great peel-and-stick options available that will give your home a temporary update and claim to leave your walls damage free when removed.
Tap the images for stunning removable options: