• August 6, 2020

Why we like to refresh tired spaces with wallpaper, paint or fabric

It’s human nature to tire of the familiar. We wake up in our home or home slash office and it’s the same walls, floors and furnishings as the day before. Our brains crave novelty, but you can’t change your flooring or sofa regularly, or do a full-scale renovation every time you’re feeling a bit bored.

You can, however, continuously give your eyes something new to feast on in the form of paint, wallpaper or fabric. These little improvements can be as budget-conscious as you want and they are changes you can make every few months so that you can re-appreciate your home all over again. It’s low risk and high reward. Here are a few ways you can make changes right away:

1. Paint

This Moroccan-inspired condo in Chinatown feels so colourful, but the majority of the home’s walls are actually white. If you don’t want to use a lot of colour in your home, then our tip is to make sure the colour you do use is impactful. In this space we painted the cabinet inside the niche a desaturated, smoky pink called Desert Rose from Benjamin Moore. If we had opted for something grey instead of pink, it wouldn’t have stood out nearly as much, and it turned out to be a favourite feature of the home. We paired it with a soft blue tile above, which really makes you focus your eye inward.

On the walls, Hale Navy paint from Benjamin Moore and on the bed, blue fabrics from Robert Allen.

The master bedroom is a great example of paint and fabric working together to add interest. Here, we painted the wall a deep navy blue, Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore, and then the whole bed is awash with navy blue fabric, from frame to pillows to bedding.

We wanted a home that didn’t feel too crazy colourful, but by adding deep saturated tones in different places around the condo, it added a lot of depth and interest to the space.

For a farmhouse renovation in Langley, we wanted to do pick timeless colours. So in the kitchen we went with a muted deep green on the cabinetry to give it a sense of history (editor’s note: this East-Coast style Cushing Green from Benjamin Moore did in fact become super trendy a year after we painted it). We could have gone with a cream colour on the cabinets, but what a missed opportunity that would have been—this green kitchen is one of the stand-out spaces in the home.

Our sincere hope is that people become less afraid of using colour. Colour is 90% of what makes a space interesting. And if you play it safe, your space can end up looking lacklustre and boring. The concept of an accent wall is bit outdated, take a risk and paint the whole room, or even the cabinetry, like in this kitchen.

2. Wallpaper

What we love about wallpaper is that it typically only takes one-to-two days to install, depending on the project size, and as soon as it’s up, it is powerful. So, while renovations can involve large budgets and take months to execute, just adding an interesting wallpaper can totally transform a home ASAP.

Furthermore, wallpapering is a relatively painless process, so long as you hire a professional wallpaper installer (and we highly recommend that you do)—it’s no fumes, no fuss, and your new wall covering can start doing good things for the room immediately.

We incorporated a ton of colour into this Gatsby-esque loft in Vancouver through painted millwork, furnishings and artwork, and didn’t want to detract from it.

This splash of confetti-esque dash wallpaper from Drop It Mod adds a fun element without adding much colour.  When you’re choosing wallpaper, it doesn’t have to be a strong pattern or colour, even something subtle like grass cloth just injects a level of dimension and texture that really makes a space feel interesting.

Here’s another example, also from our historic Langley farmhouse project, where we covered the breakfast nook in wall-to-wall vintage newsprint wallpaper. It’s very subtle, but overall it makes the space feel warm and well thought out (the newsprint features old fashioned ads for farm equipment like tractors and plows).

It’s a little touch, but it’s the last 10% that will make or break the design, and wallpaper is often in that last 10%.

Some design math: You can play it safe with your whole home and then step out of your comfort zone with the wallpaper and overall it will feel like you were super adventurous with everything.

This is just a simple entranceway with white walls and white oak floors—but look at what a difference wallpaper makes. This print is actually something we made from a photograph of Joshua Tree National Park.

3. Fabric

Fabric is one of the ways that a home really comes to life—drapery and upholstery is what makes a home livable. When considering fabric, you want to think about durability and texture, but the number one aspect is colour.

Our modern Gastown penthouse project has a fairly neutral colour palette. But by including a bright chartreuse fabric on the wingback chair (shown above) and a custom navy-blue fabric from Robert Allen on the sofa, we were able to add a lot of brightness to the room.  

Unlike other spaces in your home, don’t be scared of trends with fabric. Pick something you love now and embrace it. Fabric is something you can play around with easily, especially with something like pillows, that adds texture and fun to the space.

Pillows are cost-effective visual treasures you can recover any time the mood strikes.

Don’t get bored, get a paint brush, or order some wild wallpaper off Etsy. There’s no way you or your eyes will regret it.

Feature photo FYI: In case you were wondering, the blue dining room that we used as the intro photo for this post is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy (it’s from our Gastown penthouse project).

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