Make a Bold Decorating Move in Your Primary Bedroom

Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we look at how to decorate your primary bedroom with bold wallpaper.

Bold wallpaper—think florals, geometric patterns, tropical prints and intense colors—is having a moment. After years of a clean aesthetic and muted tones dominating modern interior design trends, a bigger is better approach is finding its way in.

Wallpaper that’s anything but subtle can be incorporated into any space in your house where you want to add pop, whether that means a powder room, office or kitchen. Andi Morse, the founder and principal designer of Morse Design in Atlanta, Georgia, loves it in a primary bedroom. “Wallpaper that makes a statement adds a lot of style and impact,” she said. “Just adding it to one wall or even the ceiling is a way to lift the entire feel of the room and give it more luxe appeal.”

Your bedroom should be a reflection of your personality, since it’s a personal space where you sleep, and wallpaper can help get the point across, Ms. Morse said.

For more specific ideas on ways to use bold wallpaper in your primary suite, we turned to designers who are well versed in creating head-turning looks.

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Don’t Hold Back

“When using bold wallpaper, I always say do all of the walls. Accent walls are passe. Floral especially packs a punch so if you are going to do it, you should really go for it when it comes to size and color. It is such a happy look. 

“If florals aren’t your thing, trellis is also a great option. If you really want to make a statement, layer on bold patterned or floral upholstery. One of my go-to combinations is a striped wallpaper complemented by floral upholstery—it always looks fabulous. In general, it is all a matter of how brave you are willing to be and how much of a statement you are willing to make within your space. 

“Use accessories with bold prints on the walls to create a three-dimensional space, and balance bold prints on the walls with solid or ombre neutral rugs. You could also do a rug that is solid in the center with a pattern on the border only. This adds another layer of interest without taking away from the bold wallpaper.” 

Designer Carleton Varney made a statement by layering wallpaper with bold patterned upholstery in this bedroom.

Ron Blunt Architectural Photography

Carleton Varney, the president of New York- and Palm Beach-based Dorothy Draper & Co.

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Make it a Long-Term Commitment

It’s important to choose a wallpaper for your bedroom that you’ll continue to love for years to come and won’t cause visual fatigue because it’s an investment financially and timewise. Think about it like buying an expensive piece of art. I suggest florals or foliage-based prints as opposed to anything figurative. They juxtapose better with a wider range of upholstery, textures and colors whereas patterns with animals or human figures don’t. 

“If you’re wanting the space to feel cozy, go with a wallpaper that has a dark base such as a deep green or navy blue. If you’d prefer a lighter, breezy look, then choose one with a white or off-white base like an ivory or ecru. When going bold on the walls, always paper all of the walls. Also, keep the décor in the room simple and upholstery neutral or within the same color family as the wallpaper. Add in interest with textures—rattan, bamboo, burled wood and antique rugs.”

Hattie Collins, designer based in New Orleans

Use the Wallpaper to Play Into a Room’s Architecture

“Inspiration for decorating the room with bold wallpaper patterns can come from the room’s architecture. For example, a room with a low ceiling will feel airier and like it has more height if you use a vertical pattern wallpaper such as stripes running up and down. A geometric pattern like a tubular or diamond can also create an appearance of height. Just avoid circular patterns such as circles and ovals because they can have the opposite effect. 

“If you want the room to look more spacious, I suggest wallpaper with a horizontal pattern such as waves or wavy stripes.”

Margine Biswas, a principal at Archipy Interiors in Dallas

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Strive for Balance With the Rest of the Room

“Balance bold wallpaper in the primary bedroom with the furniture and window treatments. For example, if you are doing a stripe or ikat print, don’t go solid on the windows. Instead, play up the print further in a color or other print that compliments or matches the colors and print in the wallpaper. 

“If you have a neutral ground in your paper, then pick a colored ground for windows with a neutral pattern. Opposites attract. Same with upholstery. Make sure that the upholstery doesn’t fall flat by doing something solid. Pick a color from the paper to use for the headboard or any other upholstered furniture in the room. Patterned walls are supposed to be fun so go the whole way. 

“If you do want to calm it down, try a wood bed to offset and contrast in materiality, but then go for a bold area rug to hold it altogether. I recently decorated a bedroom with vine wallpaper in a green background. It was beautiful, but the paper was so strong that it needed something bold to tie it all together. The headboard was in a soft gray, but a diamond checkered rug in sisal and wool became the perfect mix. ”

An example of bold floral wallpaper from interior designer Brittany Marom.

Brittany Marom Interior Design

Brittany Marom, New York City-based designer 

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