Custom-colored wallpaper in a traditional toile print gives a bedroom by JDS Designs an unexpected twist. Photograph by Timothy Bell
“This has been the decade of the rug,” says interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale, who has seen an increase in boldly colored, patterned rugs at design shows such as the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore and the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Drysdale says rugs are no longer just for covering floors: “You’ll find rugs on the wall and ceilings, too.”
Designer Susan Gulick creates hand-loomed rugs for her clients—from a bright, patterned rug for a family room to a dark-gray one with leaf patterns for a dining room.
“I see rugs as art for the floor,” Gulick says. “A rug can be the focal point of a room or a way to unite juxtaposing elements.”
Designers have noticed a growing interest in reclaimed wood, or lumber once used in barns, warehouses, or wine barrels. Although reclaimed-wood pieces are more expensive than new-wood furniture, they offer a distressed, organic look that many homeowners like.
“While reclaimed doesn’t mean antique, it can give a similar character to a room,” designer Annette Hannon says. She recently designed a home in Maine that featured a large kitchen table made of logs retrieved from lakes and rivers throughout the state. “The homeowner wanted to celebrate local elements,” says Hannon.
For years, garish 1970s prints and outdated floral patterns gave wallpaper a bad name. But designers such as Zoe Feldman are noticing a wallpaper comeback.
“The prints today aren’t as in-your-face or aggressive. They’re a lot more subtle,” she says. “At one time, wallpaper was meant to give the room all of its color and interest. Now it’s being used as a backdrop.” Many wallpapers today use softer colors, such as champagne instead of gold.
Designer Sally Steponkus says intricately patterned wallpaper can have a big impact in small spaces, such as bathrooms and foyers. And unlike in large rooms, it won’t make the space feel too busy. Steponkus has wallpapered four rooms in her own apartment.
Decorative or faux painting no longer means pastel sponge paints or country stencils. Linen-textured paint, for example, adds depth to a space and creates a modern look.
And it’s not just for walls—designers are using decorative painting on fabrics for pillows and curtains, even on floors. The dining room by Camille Saum in the 2011 DC Design House featured a painted gray-and-yellow diamond pattern on the floor, which matched yellow patent-leather chairs.
Decorative painting can also be an alternative to wallpaper. When a client’s favorite wallpaper was discontinued, designer Liz Levin hired Billet Collins, a decorative-painting company, to replicate the design. A bonus: When you use decorative paint, you can customize where the pattern falls and how it wraps around doorways or windows.This article appears in the August 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.