Decorating with Wallpaper

by : Jaima Brown

(ARA) - It's not surprising that vaulted ceilings are a growing trend in today's new homes. Ceilings that rise two or more stories in one continuous expanse certainly give rooms a feeling of spaciousness. They also add a sense of drama, even grandeur. But they also present decorating dilemmas. What do you do with those long, tall walls? How do you make life under the 'cathedral' cozy?

Tall expanses of uninterrupted wall diminish both the size and importance of artwork. While the walls can be filled with a patchwork of framed art, many of the prints and paintings are above eye-level at distances and angles that inhibit a clear view. In addition, vertical walls that rise 14, 15 or 16 feet from the floor tend to dwarf furniture at ground level. Without a unifying element to tie the walls and ceiling together, these rooms become cavernous and cold.

Coordinated wallpaper and borders are useful and affordable tools for overcoming these challenges. Combinations of wallpaper and border patterns that depict variations on the same theme and contain complementary colors unify the surfaces that surround these rooms. All of the wallpaper and border patterns in collections from S.A. Maxwell Co. are arranged into color families, and each group contains many designs and prints that can be easily mixed and matched. By embracing the whole room, they visually connect the walls and ceiling, enhance the grandeur and spaciousness of the vaulted ceiling, and segment the space into comfortable proportions.

The use of coordinated patterns also adds layers of interest to a high-ceilinged room and allows touches of detail. Place a dominant pattern on the main area of the walls. Choose one that complements the fabric on furniture and, in the case of this girl's room, the bed linens as well. The pattern should also make you feel good. A cheerful floral from Maxwell's new Winnetka collection is the ideal choice for this teenager.

Without any break or border, the floral walls of the bedroom switch to a complementary plaid that provides contrast on the two walls that angle upward toward the center of the room. At the center of the ceiling, these two patterns almost join in a rectangular frame. Slim strips of plaid along the edge of the floral walls complete the frame, in which a sponge-textured wallpaper seems to create a window of sky.

In this case, the plaid also masks irregularities in the shape of the room itself. The four walls don't join at perfect right angles, but the addition of plaid makes them look like they do.

Many walls have irregularities that can make it difficult to line up a pattern, especially when ceilings are angled or curved. Instead of trying to match the pattern where the walls meet the ceiling, separate the two adjoining patterns by a border or a strip of molding, available at any home improvement center or lumberyard.

A novelty palm-tree print, also from the Winnetka collection, carries a soothing, tropical breeze to this master bath. Above the palm trees, at ordinary ceiling height -- approximately eight feet from the floor -- we've placed a border that combines a larger-scale version of the palm tree with luscious pomegranates. The border creates a continuous level plane to surround the room.

Above it, a two-inch-wide awning stripe rises to create a dramatic tent effect in which the vertical stripes curve toward the center of the ceiling. There, they take a horizontal turn, reaching across the space and pulling it together. From the very center hangs a divine detail: the sparkle and luxury of an antique crystal chandelier.

To locate a retailer that carries the Winnetka collection featured here and other wallpaper collections from S.A. Maxwell Co., call (847) 932-3700 or visit on the Internet.