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Home Design Tip of the Week: Wallpaper

It's never easy to keep your home looking fresh and beautiful. Every week in this column, I'll provide tips on what's new and exciting in home design.

If there's a room in your house that could use a makeover, but you want something more exciting than paint, try wallpaper. In addition to color, paper adds character as well as pattern and texture to walls.

People have been covering their walls with painted paper since the Renaissance. In America, wallpaper has been popular since colonial times. People who couldn't afford paper often painted stenciled patterns directly on plaster walls.

Modern wallpapers come in a semingly infinate variety of materials, patterns and textures. One of my favorite sources for wallpapers is Thibaut Design . Graham & Brown, an online retailer with a good selection.

Make sure you pick the right paper for the room you are decorating. Washable vinyls or acrylics are best for high-traffic areas, such as kitchens and entryways. Bright, bold patterns keep the walls interesting in powder rooms and bathrooms. Choose subtle patterns or textured grasscloth papers for bedrooms.

If you're handy and sure the walls are plumb, you can save money by hanging the paper yourself. Many papers are pre-pasted so fairly easy to install. Professional paperhangers usually charge by the roll - and in my experience do a much better job than the average homeowner.

And if you're concerned about indoor air quality, look for papers with Greenguard certification, which means they have been lab tested and have little or no trace of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, heavy metals or other airborne toxins.

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