Textured wallpaper a modern solution to imperfect walls

August 25, 2014

Dear Debbie,

We are redecorating an older home that has less-than-perfect walls. I have read about your paint techniques that can camouflage dents and cracks, but what about wallpaper? Our style is modern and I don’t think textured paint finishes would work here.


Dear Sandra,

The paint techniques that camouflage imperfections are typically ones that suit styles that incorporate frescoes, marbling effects or layers of shading (aging techniques) that break up the solid surface to such an extent that the mars on the wall almost become invisible, or simply don’t matter. These are a great solution for rooms that are Victorian, Italian Renaissance or other styles that suit aged or complex patterns. Modern rooms call for simpler techniques. You can texture your walls, but with a more contemporary pattern. That’s where the new textured wallpapers come in. Of particular interest are the paintable wallpapers, as you can paint them any colour that fits your decor. Paintable wall coverings are thicker than regular wallpaper and cover cracks well, a great solution for imperfect walls.

Look for paintable wall coverings at your local home or decorating store or go on line to see the exciting variety of patterns available. Most will ship. Shown here are two examples from Graham and Brown that illustrate the ambience set up by these products. Graham and Brown’s paintable textured wallpaper doesn’t need any coating. It can be left white or painted. The textured paper in the white music room is Graham and Brown’s Theo. The modern geometric pattern sets up a perfect tone for chilling out with your headphones. Painting the textured paper highlights the design. For a bedroom, the Large Squares design has been painted a soft cornflower blue that adds a contemporary feel and peaceful character.

These textured papers can also be used to decorate room screens, storage boxes, any flat surface. Always apply a high quality wallpaper primer before you hang wallpaper. Allow the paintable wallpaper to dry for at least 24 hours before painting.

Dear Debbie,

Our home has a cedar plank wall that runs from the dining room into the living room with a red brick fire place and dark brown shaggy rug. The cedar is tongue and groove and I don’t want to remove or paint it, but need ideas on how to update the rooms without ruining the beautiful wall.


Dear Nicole,

There is no need to cover up the beautiful wood. Build in your own style with some new lighting and furnishings. (The brown shag rug could go.) A book shelf layered with personal items of interest, photographs, books, objects collected on travels, small sculptures or ceramics, will break up the expanse. Hang two or three modern pendant lights from the ceiling and their shape and shades will introduce a contemporary edge without taking away from the integrity of the plank wall.

Note: In a recent column, a reader inquired about what to do with a couch that is too low. Thanks to Judith who wrote us with an alternate solution to replacing the couch. Judith experienced a similar challenge and found a set of furniture risers online that elevated her couch by three inches. These can be used for beds too and are almost invisible if you have skirted furniture.