The Best Wallpaper for Kids’ Rooms, According to Designers
“Rare is the room that can’t benefit from some wallpaper.” —Deborah Needleman
Want a guaranteed way to fill your child’s room with style, color, joy, and excitement? Cast your eyes towards wallpaper. The power of wallpaper to transform a room cannot be understated, yet parents often hesitate to embrace papered walls for kids’ rooms. They worry that the kids will ruin the paper or that they’ll pick the wrong pattern to go the distance into the team years. Here at Cubby, we’d like to persuade you to give wallpaper a chance.
In this guide, we’ve answered all of your pressing questions about the best wallpaper for kids’ rooms. The experts we spoke to, who all happen to be parents themselves, shared their guidelines for picking a wallpaper and 13 of their favorite wallpaper patterns. Best of all, these pros vetted the companies behind each pattern, so even if a smiley alligator isn’t to your tastes, you can rest assured knowing the rest of the designs in a collection are good choices, too. Whether you wallpaper one wall, all four, or even the ceiling, adding a pattern to a room’s foundation will instantly elevate the look and give your room a point of view. Let’s get papering!
What’s better: pasted or self-adhesive wallpaper?
There are advantages to both, but for kids’ rooms, self-adhesive (or removable) wallpaper has a slight edge. There are more patterns available in traditional papers and the installed paper is more permanent than a self-adhesive product. Pre-pasted papers that you can wet and then attach to the wall can reduce some of the leg work of papering. Self-stick options, on the other hand, are easiest to install, since you can pull them back and re-lay if you make a mistake. But even more importantly, most self-stick wallpapers are wipeable and easily removable. While you might be tempted to go with a vinyl for its easy-to-clean reputation, a polywoven will look and feel more like real wallpaper, whereas vinyl peel-and-stick can be plastic-y.
Should I wallpaper one wall or all four?
There’s a long-running trend of wallpaper feature walls, but experts caution it’s hard to get right. Elizabeth Rees, the founder of Chasing Paper (remember her whimsical basement playroom?) notes that she sees the accent wall falling out of favor with her customers. “It’s less accent walls and more people doing all four walls. We’re definitely seeing that maximal trend in the wallpaper space.” If you do want to do an accent wall, it should be the focal point of the room and the main wall. The color of the other three walls should also relate directly back to the wallpaper. A nook is always a natural place to wallpaper an accent wall.
Can you wallpaper a ceiling?
Yes! 100-percent, but hire a pro to do it, says Rees. There are several advantages to papering the ceiling instead of the walls: it’s less expensive than wallpaper on all four walls, there’s no danger of the kids coloring on it, and it lets you be more flexible with changes to the rest of the room.
What pattern wallpapers are best for kids’ rooms?
Skip the rowdy or big-patterned wallpapers for a child’s bedroom, as a really bold motif can get old—fast. Urbanology Designs‘ founder Ginger Curtis, a mom of five and interior designer in Fort Worth, says to look for something simple with a touch of whimsy instead. Cubby founding editor Faith Durand got similar advice from designer Meta Coleman, who she consulted with via The Expert, while redecorating her daughters’ room. “Meta talked me out of doing something more kid-specific,” says Faith. “I had been looking at this wild print, but now I’m considering an abstracted floral.” Psst… If you have your heart set on a megawatt pattern, consider using it to back a bookcase or on the interior of a closet for a moment of joyful surprise.
How do you choose a pattern that will grow with your child?
Even knowing you’re looking for a simple but fun design, it can still be hard to zero in on a design with longevity. The designers we spoke to mentioned basic patterns (stripes, buffalo check) and nature-inspired prints (animals, florals, leaves) as safe choices that will last long past the pre-K years. Rees says, “Kids’ rooms are definitely a place to let your imagination run wild and to introduce color and print and pattern in a way that’s interesting and perhaps more fun than the rest of your house. Ask yourself, what are your child’s favorite colors? What are their interests? And use that as a jumping off point.” For example, is your child really into Star Wars? There’s a wallpaper for that!
Should I let my kids pick their wallpaper?
Yes, but steer them in the right direction. Julia Marcum, the designer and blogger behind Chris Loves Julia, let her daughter pick her wallpaper at age six. Marcum pre-edited the options and presented her daughter with choices that “no matter which one she chose, it would be amazing.” But don’t give the kids too many choices: Rees says 5 to 7 should be enough for them to feel like they are really choosing, without overwhelming them.
Do I need to hire a professional installer?
If you’ve never wallpapered before, you should probably bring in a pro. Self-adhesive wallpaper is more forgiving than a traditional pasted one, but contending with windows, doors, and imperfections in the walls is challenging no matter what style of paper you opt for. Plus, Rees points out, “It might be less time and money to get someone to do it the first time.” (As someone who spent nearly a week installing a simple stripe in a bedroom on my first foray into wallpapering, your humble Cubby author would also recommend saving yourself the precious time and potential marital disputes.)
How do you make wallpaper look great?
Professional installation will go a long way towards ensuring your wallpaper looks its best, but even before that: Look at samples before you buy! Most brands sell swatches, but even if you have to make an investment in a whole roll, it pays to make sure the pattern is right. “It’s really hard to see wallpaper online and to be able to tell what it really is,” cautions Boston-based interior designer Cecilia Casagrande. “You really have to hold the paper in your hand.” Once you’ve settled on your design, coordinate the trim to the paper. In a client’s nursery, Cecilia installed Dinosauria by House of Hackney and painted the room’s moldings in a complimentary green. “It frames the wallpaper, so the wallpaper was the star of the room,” she says. Julia Marcum takes a similar approach, pulling a blue from her daughter’s wallpaper and using it for the chair rail, moldings, and ceiling in the room.
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