Holy Shiplap this stuff is popular! I get it, sort of… Outside of paint and applied texture, the walls of most homes were unadorned outside of paint and applied texture. We had wall paper overload in the 80’s and sometime in the early 1990’s we went for plainer walls. Could’ve been the economy. Could’ve been the influence of Gen X-ers coming into adulthood.
So, when Fixer Upper came on the scene and started unearthing shiplap* the world started making an association – plain walls = bad, boring, mundane and shiplap = exciting, desirable, coveted. Everyone and their sister decided that they had to have shiplap.
Of course, finding wood paneling in a home where it has been covered with gypsum board can be exciting if you want a wood paneled wall and it works with the style you want for your home. However, that’s not the reality for most homes, nor is horizontal plank paneling a great wall covering for every style.
After all, what are we trying to accomplish when we adorn our walls? We want to add texture, color, and pattern or some combination of the three. You can accomplish this by using a variety of materials that are far more interesting and unusual than shiplap.
Here’s the thing, when they started making peel and stick “shiplap” it should have been a sign that we’d gone too far. After all, there are so many really beautiful wall coverings that aren’t shiplap that you could be using… So let’s give a few of those options some love, why don’t we?
1. Good ‘Ol Wallpaper
In case you didn’t get the memo, wallpaper is back in style! From the subtle to the absurd, wallpaper is having its moment. You can find wallpaper in many price points and there are also some temporary versions for those who can’t commit. However, don’t expect any of this to be inexpensive and whatever you do, hire a pro. It’s so worth it, especially if you’re using a big bold pattern like the ones below.
This paper in this bathroom is bold in its pattern, but subtle in its colorway. If you want to go bold all the way, can’t go wrong with Schumacher wallpaper. One of my favorites, and the inspiration for this peacock bathroom, is the Chiang Mai Dragon wall paper. I saw this audacious paper at a local home show and just knew I needed a bathroom with a bold wallpaper.
For other great bold wallpapers, check out Thibault and York. You can purchase the Plume wall paper featured in the bathroom above at Ballard Designs. If you’re looking for something truly unique and you have a generous budget, check out Maya Romanoff, where wallpaper is truly transformed.
Technically, grasscloth is a wallpaper, but I think it deserves its own category. Why, you ask? Well, grasscloth is mostly about adding color and texture to your wall without the pattern element. It’s an organic material that has a completely different look and feel compared to what we typically think of as wall paper.
Grasscloth comes in many different textures and colors. From natural, coarse variations to fine and colorful, there is a grasscloth for every style. My favorite is a fine natural look like the one in the picture above, but the bright, colorfully dyed grasscloths can add a punch of color when a little more drama or story telling is needed. For instance, can’t you see the below wallpaper in a contemporary, chic Miami Beach condo?
3. 3-Dimenisonal Wall Coverings
3-Dimensional wall coverings have been fairly common in commercial settings for quite some time, but they have been growing in popularity in residential design over the past few years. The great thing about these wall coverings is that the options for pattern, texture, and color, are nearly endless.
Above, I used a 3-D wall covering to break up a long boring wall and provide a backdrop for the media cabinet and TV. This is a less expensive and much more temporary option than stacked stone or other masonry work. This particular wall covering was about $10/sf + the cost of labor to install and paint.
There are several companies that manufacture and distribute these types of wall panels. Inhabit and MDC are companies that I have used before. MDC is a commercial wall covering company, but their panels can be used in a residential setting.
4. Upholstered Walls
I have to admit that nothing looks sleeker and richer to me than upholstered walls. Particularly in a contemporary style bedroom. Typically, upholstered walls are done behind a bed, but you might also see them in a living room as an accent wall.
While it isn’t the most practical wall covering, upholstered walls bring a lot of texture and warmth to the party. Because it is such a bold dimensional choice, you will probably want to stick to solid colors. Upholstered walls are also not an inexpensive option. They are custom installations that require meticulous detail work preformed by a designer and an upholsterer. You will also want to use very high quality fabric for this type of installation.
5. Wood Panels and Millwork
Without a doubt the most classic wall covering is wood paneling and millwork, aka moldings. Technically, shiplap would fall into this category. However, you achieve so many different looks using wood paneling and millwork. Everything from classic Parisian apartment style millwork to sleek contemporary wood veneer panels. If you want to see more great millwork and wood paneling, check out this project by Anne-Marie Barton and this contemporary meets classic paneling by Handel Architects. Want to learn more about how this type of millwork is planned? Check out this video by Anne-Marie Barton on The Design Network.
Creating interest with your walls can make a huge a difference. I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to your walls. A little wallpaper or millwork can go a long way to help you carry out your design concept. Need help adding some interest to those bland walls? Give us a call at Paradigm Interiors or schedule your complementary Design & Style phone consultation today!
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you sign up for our email list! One easy way is to download our Cohesive Style Guide booklet, where you will learn how to select and sample paint like a pro! Plus, you’ll get all of our latest and greatest on everything related to interior design and decorating!
*sometimes the uncovered wall paneling was not shiplap, but tongue and groove
**this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link or make a purchase from the link, I may receive a small commission**