Designer tip: Erin Mixson on working with wallpaper

The hot air balloons and airplanes that complete this wallpaper scene add a childlike element to this sophisticated room. Photo courtesy Erin Mixson.

Leave the nightmares of 1970s wallpaper behind, because Erin Mixson of Erin Mixson Interiors┬ásays it’s easy to make a statement with whimsical wallpaper that not only acts as a focal point but also ignites the imagination.

“Wallpaper can make a statement in a room that would otherwise be lackluster,” says Mixson. “How the wallpaper is used, however, depends on the size and type of room.”

For larger rooms, like the one pictured above, Mixson suggests choosing just one wall to serve as an accent wall, preferably one without windows or doors. This will allow the wallpaper to shine while not becoming too overwhelming. In addition, by choosing a wall that is a completely blank slate, you have the opportunity to choose a pattern that is not only beautiful, but also tells a story or creates a scene. In the room pictured above, the story that the wallpaper tells brings childhood wonder into a space otherwise characterized by muted tones.

And while the method of creating one focal wall in a room can be effective, Mixson notes that for smaller-scale rooms, wallpaper must be spread throughout in order to create the necessary impact. Because spaces such as bathrooms tend to be compact, wallpapering one wall will likely make the entire space look unfinished. Rather, take a chance and go for bold by carrying the patterned paper throughout the entire room. Because less time is spent in these smaller spaces, it is okay for patterns to be more powerful.

“When the goal is to enliven a small room, you are more likely to be successful if you cover every wall,” says Mixson. “At the same time, it can be enough to cover just one focal wall in a larger room.”

For Mixson, the key to mastering the wallpaper trend is knowing your space. Before choosing a pattern, get a sense of not only the scale of the room but also the story you want to tell. Because without proper consideration, that choice of wallpaper can end up just as upsetting as the groovy patterns that were left behind by previous owners.

For more information on Mixson, check out these other tips here and here, or visit her website here.