Interior Design for Living: Wall patterns without wallpaper

By SUSAN GILL SPELLMEYER

Q: I would like to add pattern and interest to my walls without wallpapering every room. I like wallpaper, but have a tendency to overdo it. Can you give me some suggestions?

A: Wallpapering a room is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add pattern to a room. There is such a vast amount to choose from. With some patience, you're certain to find something that you like.

Too much of anything is not good and it certainly applies to pat­terned wallpaper. Room after room of it can be very busy and boring at the same time — busy because of all the different patterns in adjoin­ing rooms, and boring because it's the same concept used throughout.

In this instance, we'll focus on adding pattern to your walls without using a printed wallpaper. However, it must be said that there are many other ways to add interest to your room without using a pattern on your walls.

Area rugs, patterned floors and carpets, various printed fabrics on upholstery or draperies, and even a pattern on the ceiling can all make a room just as exciting as a striking wallpaper.

In actuality, it's best to vary the point of interest from room to room. It makes your home far more inter­esting.

There are, however, many un­usual possibilities for your walls.

Wood strips used in a pattern on an accent wall can add interest and

texture, and, by its nature, would be unique. The strips could butt each other or be separated to let the wall behind show through. That could be painted an accent color, mirrored or wallpapered in a foil — gold or silver. The possibilities for design would be as endless as your imagi­nation. It could then be left natural, stained, or if you use an inexpensive wood, painted.

Fabric, possibly one that is used elsewhere in the room, could be stretched and tacked or shirred on rods. This not only adds a pattern and focal point, but also the inher­ent effect of fabric "softens" the room. It works especially well in a bedroom, sitting room, or any other quiet area.

Stenciling is another way to add pattern. A design is cut in a piece of cardboard and the paint or ink ap­plied to the top penetrates to the wall beneath. Again, the possibilities are endless. It can be "serious" or "fun" — formal or informal. De­pending upon the color and style, it can be used in any room.

Many people think stenciling gives a "country" look. It may, but if the design is contemporary, the effect is contemporary.

Not only can it be applied to the ceiling line, but also around win­dows, doors and below or above chair rails.

Painting the walls does not have to be boring. You can add pattern by using various colors and creating a design that is appealing. A con-

temporary graphic design makes a playroom or teen-ager's room a lot of fun. Walls painted in a design that gives the illusion of depth can be very effective in the hall. A child's room could have flowers "growing" up from the baseboards and butterflies "flying" on the walls. A "headboard" could be a rainbow painted on the wall directly above the bed. Anything similar to any of these would truly be "one of a kind."

If you use a latex or oil-based wall paint, it would be practical and could be washed as you would wash any wall.

The paints and inks used for stenciling are also washable. Conse­quently, they may be used in any area of your home.

Sand paint or stucco can also be applied to the walls in a pattern. It can be swirled or dabbed, made rough or smooth. Again, it adds pat­tern as well as a lot of texture.

In bathroom or kitchen, you can apply patterned tiles to your walls. You can also use colorful tiles ar­ranged to form a design. You can create stripes, plaids or diagonal lines, to mention only a few possibil­ities.

These are some ways to add pat­tern to your walls without relying upon wallpaper. As you can see, many of them would add a unique­ness that would not be possible if wallpaper were your only option.