Wallpaper or Faux? YOU Decide!

faux finish, wall art

Years ago, I met someone who was extremely involved in the interior design industry.  She was quite frank and it was clear she had little patience for someone like me:  an artist who creates murals and wall finishes.   However, I appreciated and respected her honesty.  “Why wouldn’t I choose wallpaper?  I don’t have to go through all these steps like I would with someone like you.  I measure my space, look through a book, pick out the paper, order it and arrange to have it installed.”  I can have it done the next day if I chose to.”

Maybe years ago when I was young in this profession,  my feelings might have been hurt.  I think my training as a fine artist and having to endure numerous critiques in undergrad and grad school plus the feedback I received showing my work to gallery owners kind of helped me develop a hard shell about what I do.  I’m not bothered by what folks have to say about my art.  Like it, not like it—it’s a matter of YOUR preference and YOUR aesthetic.  I actually chuckled after my meeting with this person because the conversation got me thinking.   Oh this thinking thing: I tend to do it a lot!

IT IS YOUR PREFERENCE; that’s the bottom line.

But, how to figure that out?  Well, in my twenty years of being in business, I’ve done work for many a former wallpaper lover turned disliker and lover of faux finishes.  Yep, I could be partial to the questions and key points I’m going to direct your attention to, but I will do my best to be as neutral as possible.

1.  Are you a “I want it done YESTERDAY” kind of person?

If you answered, “Yes” then wallpaper may be for you.  Yes, you can go pick out a pattern from a book and order the wallpaper.  Just know that there is a delivery turnaround and hope that your pattern isn’t out of stock.  Also, make sure you order enough because paper is printed in “runs” (dye lot number) and you have may not match another roll from a different run.  Also keep in mind that you have to hire an installer unless you plan on doing it yourself.

Yes, there are limitations with hiring someone like me.  Unless you are hiring a crew of finishers, generally folks like me are a one person army.  And as my original critic said, there is a process.  Why?  Because we (collectively) want to make sure you get what you want.)

2.  Do you like a mechanical design or a more loose handmade look?

Orderly images that come in a repeat pattern actually can be done by both industries but to have something completely devoid of any personal touch, is usually left to the wallpaper industry.  Yes, as artists, we have wallpaper stencils at our disposal, but again, we do things by hand so there are instances where things beyond our control happen.  If you appreciate the look of things done by hand, then the faux-finish/unique wall finish  is for option is for you .  (De Gournay does sell hand-painted wallpaper and there are companies who will hand print wallpaper for you, provided you have the budget.)

3.  Is having something created for you completely custom of importance to you?

Remember the answer I gave  in question 1 about the process?  Please hear me out:  As I mentioned before, we want to make sure YOU get what YOU want.   I do have to note here that there are companies on the internet who offer “custom wallpaper” creations, as long as the art is provided by you.   As far as customizing minutae such as a tweak of a color, I have not yet heard of a company who can sit down with you and customize the repeats to your liking. Yes,  we meet with you, we show you samples, we look at your decor to offer creative options, we show you colors, we make colors, we tweak what ever needs to be tweaked so you get what you want.  The personal experience is of high importance when dealing with an artist or an artisan.  We want to develop a relationship with you and make you happy.

4.  Do you love the unique and have an appreciation for art?

Do you look for things or images that are out of the ordinary?  Something that  perhaps no one else has?  Something that you can’t do yourself but you can articulate to someone exactly what you want done?  Again, the personal one -on-one experience of dealing with a wall finisher will help you accomplish your goals.  We basically turn your walls into works of art.  Consider tour walls or ceiling:  shimmering foils,  sparkly glitter, or large mica flakes, or even Swarovski crystals attached to areas for special interest–how unique!  And just think, you are supporting the arts!!!!

5.  Are you concerned about durability?

Wallpaper has been known for its durability, expecially if you have commercial wallpaper installed.  That stuff is just indestructible.  However, in our industry, we work with plasters that are lime based and harden over time, we use concrete based plasters in addition to a wide array of protective topcoats.  Many products on the market today contain newer technology to provide additional protection.  In addition, many manufacturers have incorporated UV technology to prevent colors from fading quickly.

6. Cost effectiveness.

Cost effectiveness can be argued for either arena.  There are so many variables that can be thrown into this equation, that there really isn’t a definitive answer.  Some wallpaper rolls run upwards of a $1000 and that doesn’t include installation.  Some faux finishing products can cost a couple hundred dollars per gallon.

7.  Ease of removal.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog entry, many of my clients are former wallpaper people who just had a really hard time removing the wallpaper and they do not want to deal with that experience again.  Some wallpapers, such as the wallpaper was that foil/velvet flock from the 1970’s  (I’m chuckling because I’m thinking about the wallpaper my parents had in our kitchen–yikes!!!) was super difficult to remove.  If the wall wasn’t prepped properly to begin with and the client may remove large portions of sheetrock along with the wallpaper.  In addition, you have to make sure that all of the remaining wallpaper glue has been removed from the wall.  Painting on top of a surface with adhesive still on it will cause cracking of the newly painted surface.  On the other hand, some of my clients had no problem removing their wallpaper and were just looking to get away from the wallpaper look.

I’m going to throw a wrench in my entry here:  some faux finishes are a pain to “remove.”  Removing a faux finish is sort of a misnomer.  Why?  Unless it is a painted finish like a colorwash which may need a light sanding and then a primer to begin repainting, technically, you are adding texture to a wall.  If you’re adding texture, the only ways you can prevent that texture from telegraphing, i.e. showing through , in the future, is to sand, sand, sand, or skimcoat (applying a thin coat of plaster or mud to the wall to even out the surface), or re-sheetrock the wall.

No matter what choice you make, there is a level of commitment. You simply cannot repaint the walls if you decide you don’t like the way they look.  An immediate change in either wallpaper or faux finish would prove to be rather costly.

I’m sure there are additional points that I have overlooked.  But, I think if you look at what I’ve mentioned above and think about your responses to the questions and to the points, you will see what YOUR preference is a little more clearly.   I already know what my preference is 😉

What are your thoughts?

If you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss your redecorating project, please contact me at (908) 599-2129 or fill out your contact information here.