By Sue Pipal

Wallpaper is back, and it comes refreshed and renewed in a way that makes sense for today’s mountain living. Of course, grass cloth has always complemented our wood and stone interiors. However, there has been a creative explosion in wallpaper design. Today’s amazing new options could make you fall in love with wallpaper again.

There are so many reasons to add wallpaper to a room. If you’re lucky enough to have an old log cabin, or wood-clad walls, or high wainscoting, wallpaper can be just the thing to add a little warmth and break up all that wood. Grass cloth works very well for this purpose. Or, in an older cabin, why not up the charm factor and add a pretty hand block-printed paper?


Or, if your interiors show too much dry wall and not enough Tahoe style, wallpaper is an affordable way to add “architectural interest” without causing the expense of adding stone and wood. Choose a rustic, nubby wallpaper for this purpose. 

In a more typical Tahoe home with lots of glass, wood, and stone, wallpaper can be a softening, cocooning element that warms up and humanizes all those hard surfaces. Again, a textured option can be perfect. 

Finally, if you have a new contemporary-style room with large, clean, sloping walls, break up all the white with a few dramatic wallpapered sections in modern textures and graphics.

Words of caution: Be judicious. Avoid adding so much that your house looks like the wallpaper store exploded in it. Less is more. In my projects, I will often use paper in a bedroom or two, a bathroom or two, and maybe an accent wall in an entry, hallway, or great room. 

Here are some other places I love to use a colorful or patterned accent:

Entry: Nothing says welcome to a special home like a wallpapered area in an entryway.

Bedroom headboard: In rooms with little architectural interest, this can make an impact. 

Powder rooms: These are the bane of wallpaper installers but the delight of designers everywhere. Nothing adds more charm and beauty to a powder room than the right wallpaper.

Statement wall: In great rooms or dens, consider wallpapering one or just a couple of walls. Again, a texture may be best, as a busy pattern can compete with furnishings. Hallways are a nice place for statement wallpaper. To create richly layered rooms, hang sconces, mirrors, and artwork right on top of your paper. 

Inside bookshelves: A favorite luxe designer trick is to paper the back wall of book shelves. 

Wallpaper comes in so many designs. Here are some favorites I’ve used all over California:

Rustics:  Grass cloths, woven textiles applied to paper, and nubby textures are cooler than ever. Today’s options come in every color under the sun, and some have beautiful painted images or woven patterns applied. Newly found natural materials are now integrated and knotted into gorgeous, modern textured surfaces.

Overscale: Big patterns, landscapes, and murals are in. These can be perfect for mountain houses with high ceilings and tall walls.

Neutrals: The no-color trend has been strong in recent years and the world of wallpaper reflects this as well. There are many grey, beige, taupe, and cream options. From simple, quiet textures to the most graphic of patterns, neutrals make up today’s most popular wallpapers.

Contemporary style: Modern photographic images blown up to wall height, huge geometric graphics, abstract murals — wallpapers have grown well beyond that old-fashioned “printed on paper” look.  Today, anything goes.

Traditional: If you love charm, there are many choices to beautify your cozy cabin. Updated florals, large-scale checks and plaids, Indienne-inspired block print patterns are all looking very much like they belong in the 2020s. 

Artisanal: Are you looking for a craftsman or one-of-a-kind art installation? Look into collage, hand painting, mosaic, and plaster-on-paper selections.

Grandma makes a comeback: Remember those old, grandma-era printed-on-paper wallpapers?  Well, they’re back too. Popular patterns from the ’80s are returning, sometimes recolored or with a change in scale. Keep your Tahoe interior fresh and beautiful by mixing these styles with modern light fixtures, artwork, or furnishings. 

Mountain themes: Pinecone, mountain, water, wildflower, forest, and animal motifs are all available in elegant designer patterns. Yes, there are some scary kitschy papers out there. But sophisticated options abound.

You don’t have to look far to see examples. One of my favorite wallpaper manufacturers is Phillip Jeffries, Visit my website,, to see a whole mountain-curated collection I’ve put together.

As for who can install wallpaper locally, two of my favorites are Glenn Karnofsky, (530) 308-1596, and the wonderful people at

~ Sue Pipal has been an interior designer in the Lake Tahoe area for 25 years. She is the owner of Dragonfly Designs as well as For help with selecting or installing wallpaper, or for any other design questions, email Sue at


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