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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

I love a good comeback story.

While wallpaper has long been part of history, today it’s back with a bang.

According to Google data, wallpaper-related searches are up an average of 50% over the past 12 months.

Just to be clear, I’m referring to the wallpaper applied to a wall, not the background of a phone or laptop screen.

October is the perfect month to spruce up your home before the holiday festivities start.

For many, the upcoming holiday season could be the first time in a couple years since hosting family and friends.

During the pandemic, many people were motivated to update their homes, including me. Pinterest reported that in 2020, searches for wallpaper increased by 41%.

At that time, jungle print themes went wild. Hey, if you can’t go to the zoo, why not bring it indoors?

Today, a popular trend is biophilia: designs inspired by nature, from birdlife to bold florals and natural colors such as blue and green.

Contributing to wallpaper’s resurgence are improvements in design and quality, making it a creative alternative to paint and a trend with staying power.

Also, wallpaper is environmentally friendly; some of the many sustainable materials include recycled paper, bamboo, linen and my favorite, grasscloth.

While it’s often less expensive to paint, wallpaper is an eco-friendlier choice than paint, which often ends up in landfills.

For the record, I don’t claim to be an expert on wallpaper; I’m just an empty nester with some extra time on my hands.

And, trust me, if I can install wallpaper, anyone can do it—literally, today it’s easily removable, so both homeowners and renters can enjoy its style.

The current adhesive peel-and-stick wallpapers fit most budgets; websites range from the inexpensive to exorbitant. Installing it is easy and requires few tools: a measuring tape, scissors, utility knife, smoother tool or a clean towel to gently smooth the surface.

For those new to wallpaper, I recommend starting with a small project, perhaps an accent wall.

My first foray into wallpaper was a downstairs powder room. In a few hours, I turned a boring bland wall into a tropical timberland.

If tackling a wall is too much, a great way to personalize a small space is papering shelves or staircase risers with a pop of contrasting color or pattern.

I’ve become somewhat obsessed with wallpaper, or so my family says. My favorite wallpapers are subtle textures, but I like bold prints, too.

Last month, I helped move my younger son to the Bay Area. Returning home, I stood in what was his office. As I wiped my watery eyes, my focus soon shifted to the now blank wall before me.

Ready for a new chapter, I decided to order the wallpaper I coveted. It illustrated a timeworn bookshelf jam-packed with books, creating the illusion of wood shelving without its permanence and hundreds of books without the expense.

Fearing a family intervention, I ordered my wanted wallpaper without a word.

A couple Saturdays later, with my husband busy at work downstairs, I quietly went to work upstairs.

I transformed a wall peppered with pockmarks and chipped paint into a seemingly realistic wooden bookshelf suitable for a library.

After admiring my work, I sent a picture to our family group chat. My older son replied immediately with, “WOW.” I’m still not sure how to interpret his text.

Seconds later, my husband came bounding up the stairs and asked, “What have you done?”

I took his comment as flattery, thinking maybe he believed I’d also taken up carpentry.

Decking your walls with peel-and-stick wallpaper is a fun, fast and fashionable way to refresh a room before family and friends arrive to celebrate the holiday season.

Wallpaper is on a roll, and I hope it’s here to stay.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to Picket Fence Media since 2006.

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