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Is Wallpaper Old Fashioned?

patterned wallpaper behind bed

Why Modern Wall Coverings Will Never Go Out Of Style

Whether it's home décor, fashion, web design or even your smart phone, everything eventually evolves & what was once all the rage can often become outdated & yesterdays news.

But as the saying goes "history repeats" & styles of yesterday become fashionable & cool again.

But some things never go out of style & wallpaper is one of those things.

It's just kept evolving through the years & is as relevant in home décor today as it's ever been.

Is wallpaper old fashioned? Certainly not! Only old fashioned wallpaper is old fashioned, but modern wallpapers have evolved with new materials, methods to apply & hang, as well as a fabulous array of styles & designs. Many interior designers still recommend & love using modern wallpapers.

If you had any doubts about using wallpaper for your next decorating project, then rest assured that wallpaper is a wonderfully modern wall covering that's just as fashionable today & more stylish than it's ever been.


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A Brief History of Wallpaper

Historic records reveal that the Chinese first used wallpaper around 200 BC & incorporated images of flowers, birds & landscapes that were printed on rice paper.

Chinese prisoners in the Battle of Talas supposedly passed on this knowledge of making wallpaper to their Middle eastern captures.

The Middle Eastern people then took it a step further by using linen.

Then in the 16th century, China started importing wallpaper to Europe.

Wallpaper then evolved again as a method was devised to imitate cut velvet and these wallpapers were known as flocks.

Silk or woodpile was shaken on a varnished or glued design & wallpaper manufacturing became a recognized trade.

We can probably thank the French for the wallpapers we have today.

The Dominotiers were a guild of painters and paperhangers set up in 1599.

The methods they used then are similar to today's methods.

Later in the late 17th century by demand of Louis XVI, wallpaper was made in longer rolls.

Then a Frenchman named Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper.

Wallpapers kept evolving throughout Europe and the rest is history.

Today, wallpaper manufactures incorporate many different materials for producing a wide range of papers with different characteristics and applications.

Wallpapers Evolution Through the Years

A few hundred years ago, the royal & the rich adorned their walls with wallpaper as the patterns & designs exuded wealth & elegance.

Then the 1930's & 40's rolled around & wallpaper incorporated pastel colours & floral designs as was widely available for the average homeowner.

The 1950's, 60's & 70's saw wallpaper with a braver approach, using more colour & funky patterns.

As well as big hair & new wave, the good old 1980’s brought us orange and brown décor!

But there were also very colourful, graphic & even new wave designs that continued into the 90’s.

The noughties came & went, but wallpaper adopted more modern & contemporary designs, & nowadays we have a choice of many beautiful wall coverings.

As well as better & more durable materials that make hanging wallpaper so much easier, modern wall coverings are still available in retro designs.


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Why Are Modern Wallpapers So Popular?

Wallpaper may not be as widely used as it was a few decades ago.

Back then it was like a standard way to decorate & often a whole house would be wallpapered.

But in many ways it's more popular today, just used more tastefully.

This is because modern wall coverings offer more design choice than just floral patterns, so it doesn't become dated & can live happily on your walls for many years.

Also, today's wall coverings are easier to hang & the need for slapping glue all over place is a thing of the past.

There's even removable wall coverings & papers, often referred to as "peel & stick".

As well as the actual styles & designs not becoming dated, modern wallpapers are also highly durable & fade resistant.

Newer manufacturing techniques & materials means there's a wallpaper to suit various applications.

  • Traditional Wallpaper - these are made from paper, which is cellulose derived from plant fibres & are very popular due to their affordability & vast range of designs.

This type of paper will either require pasting or soaking to activate the adhesive.

  • Non-woven - these are also extremely popular as these papers are made from a mix of natural & synthetic fibres.

Much easier to hang than cellulose papers as the adhesive paste is applied directly to the wall.

  • Bamboo, Grass & Burlap - another plant based product that is very popular because it’s environmentally friendly.

But it does stain easier & not as hard wearing.

  • Textile - Made from various textiles such as linen, cotton, velvet & felt, they can be luxurious but are more expensive.

But still a very popular choice.

  • Embossed - as the name implies, these papers are embossed with designs & can be made from vinyl, linoleum as well as certain fabrics.

They definitely have a look of yesteryear & offer a more classic look.

But used in the right context can work extremely well.

  • Grass Cloth - made from fibreglass, it’s extremely long lasting, flame resistant & highly durable.

These papers come in many contemporary & modern styles.

  • Vinyl - another long lasting paper that’s highly durable & washable.

Available in many patterns & designs as well as full wall murals.

You can get faux brick, tiles & other things too.

As previously mentioned, it’s also available as a removable paper referred to as “peel and stick”.

  • Liquid - a solution of cellulose & cotton fibres is applied directly to the wall.

It has become quite popular & the video below demonstrates just what a unique product it is.

Breathing New Life Into Old Fashioned Wallpaper

Although modern wallpaper has come a long way in terms of materials, style & design, the retro look can still be found.

These wallpapers are breathing new life into the wallpapers of yesteryear.

When these older styles are incorporated with more contemporary décor, it can be a really fabulous look.

Even newer furniture is available with styles that give a nod to certain decades.

This means you can create a retro feel in your décor without it being too over the top or kitch.

Perhaps your house was built in a certain decade but has since been modernized.

Using a wallpaper style from that time is a wonderful way to hint at the property's past.

It's also possible to paint over certain wallpapers & if this is something you're thinking of undertaking, here's an article explaining the dos & don'ts:


This allows you to find a pattern you love & be able to update the colour as trends change.

3 Old Fashioned Wallpaper Trends to Avoid

Personal taste is just that .. personal.

If you like the look of something & it makes you happy, well enjoy!

But there are some wallpaper trends from times gone by, that for me, I could live very happily knowing they'll never come back into style.

1. Wallpaper Borders & Dado Rails

Believe it or not, these aren't totally gone & rumour has it they're making a comeback.

But even with modern patterns they still look dated to me.

2. Plaid

This style of wallpaper can still be purchased .. but why would you?

It looks like you've a table cloth stuck on your walls!

3. Eggshell Wallpaper Finish

This always reminds me of my shared house days when I lived in the UK.

It was always painted beige too!

Final Thoughts

Far from being old fashioned, wallpaper looks like continuing far into the future of home décor & interior design.

Modern wall coverings are certainly more stylish than their predecessors & the modern retro wallpapers can look really cool too.

Personally, a splash of retro is a good look in my book, as long as it’s not overdone, otherwise it can just look cheesy and somewhat kitsch.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down wallpaper memory lane & please feel free to share if someone else may find value in it.


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