DALL — September 2011
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The Radar Design
Carla Jordan

Scene Stealers

Fussy no more, today's wallpapers are picture-perfect.

We admit it. We've been known to turn our stylish noses up more than once at the sight of wallpaper. Its very name conjures up visions of granny's sitting room and tempts us to channel Oscar Wilde, who reportedly declared, as he lay in a Paris hotel room: "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."

So imagine our surprise recently upon stepping inside the Highland Park home of Portia and Alex Hicks to find a scenic wallpaper in their newly decorated, contemporary dining room, and what's more, to realize that we love it.

Wallpaper has an enviable pedigree, dating back to China in the 1300s. Stateside, the use of scenic wallpaper has been traced back to 18th century colonists who embraced it as a New World way to imitate the art-filled homes of British nobility. These landscape patterned wallpapers have been long favored by designers but, typically, found in high-end traditional interiors(i. E., the White House).

Change is fashionably underfoot. Scenic wallpapers are now popping up in modern homes as more designers are discovering their potential. "Scenic wallpapers give rooms instant d├ęcor," notes Chandos Dodson of Chandos Interiors and designer of the Hicks' home. "They hold their own alongside a beautiful chandelier, mirror and table, which is why they work so well in modern rooms." They're especially ideal for small spaces, according to Cammie Marrs, general manager of Culp Associates, because they create the illusion of a larger space.

Scenic wallpapers are appealing to a younger generation of well-heeled clients. They feature spare landscapes with trees, birds, butterflies and the like that lend themselves to a more modern aesthetic. Scenic are further made contemporary via muted and metallic color ways and installation in rooms with modern furnishings. "When it comes to dramatic impact, nothing compares to scenic wallpaper," says Dodson.

We couldn't agree more, and, from now on, we're taking the scenic route, too.