Paint or wallcovering? What each says about the environment

Back when I started designing in long-term care, dinosaurs roamed the earth. Or was it just after that darn ice age thing? Just can’t keep them straight. Anyway, when I first started designing for seniors in private pay, “high end” homes would have wallcovering everywhere and the Medicare models would be base bones, paint over non-detailed walls. The exception to this rule was Florida where the mold and mildew would play havoc on the wallcoverings. Now, I am seeing a move away from vinyl wallcovering in senior living with the exception of spaces such as private dining or salons. With all of the fabulous new wallcoverings that have great design, durability, and low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it seems like a shame to switch gears at this point away from covering the walls and move toward paint-only applications.

It’s not that I am against paint. There are some great new products that offer durability and lots of other benefits. It’s just that it’s paint. No pattern or flair—no depth, no drama.

This got me wondering. Residential has been trending toward less and less use of wallcoverings. Could this be a reaction not only from clients’ likes but also what designers are seeing at Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, and Ikea? You can see this influence in every design magazine. More and more architectural elements are being used to create drama and less reliance is placed on the good old standby: wallcoverings.

I hope to see a swing back toward our wonderful friend that covers bad drywall, adds visual interest, and creates drama at a reasonable cost.

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