This dated wallpaper trend is making a comeback, according to Kelly Hoppen

Will you join in on the revival of this Gen X wallpaper trend?

Black and white geometric wallpaper in room with one mid-century style chair upholstered in black leather
(Image credit: Lick)

Wallpaper borders — what even are they?

When I think of wallpaper borders, honestly, my mind takes me back to my mother putting up sunshine-printed yellow borders throughout the center line of our living room and hallway walls, against sunset orange-painted walls. The year was 2006, I was a teenager, and for her sake, I'll say it was a vibe.

Fast-forward, I’m now in my early thirties, and honestly, the number of rentals and real homes I’ve lived in, I can confirm that I've seen a lot of cool and questionable wallpaper looks, but I haven't seen a wallpaper border for a really long time.

So when wallpaper brand Lick (opens in new tab) announced that it was partnering with multi-award-winning interior designer Kelly Hoppen (opens in new tab) to launch its first-ever range of — wait for it — wallpaper borders, I was so curious to see what they looked like. And, above all, whether they were still a thing.

Wallpaper borders from Lick x Kelly Hoppen

(Image credit: Lick)

I especially admire Hoppen’s work, so I couldn’t wait to hear her thoughts on this traditional home feature introduced as "a striking take on one of the fastest growing trends in the interiors world," one that can enhance a modern space, playfully.

Firstly, I needed some affirmation. So I asked Alison Jones, co-editor of Real Homes magazine, who has seen many a home shoot over the past few years whether she had seen many wallpaper borders around recently. "Not that often as they are very '80s/'90s," says Jones. "People divide up their walls in other ways now — by half paneling, decals, and paint effects. They might also do chair rails with different wallpapers or colors at the top and bottom if they are going for a modern Victorian look." 

Will we be adding borders to our wallpaper trends this year? Hoppen certainly thinks so.

Did wallpaper borders ever go out of fashion?

It sounds like we've actually just been giving wallpaper borders a hard time of late. If you're redecorating your first fixer-upper or have been given the all-clear by your landlord to decorate your rented space, these wall decorations could offer some awesome design opportunities.

"Wallpaper borders are back and I could not be more thrilled," says Hoppen. Noting how in the collab with Lick, they decided to create 'runners' as a revised version of the original border, allowing people to use them in a ton of different ways. 

"Yes borders did go out of style which is why I decided to do these as "runners" to offer a new version of the border and showcase endless ways to use them — up, down, side by side and as stripes and from side to side — there's a total versibility in what we've created as this is what people want." Adds Hoppen.

Lick’s Head of Interior Design Tash Bradley, who has an incredible background in color psychology, sharing how traditionally, they had more practical uses rather than decorative but that's now changed.

When it comes to them coming in and out of fashion, Bradley explains that it was more a case of them not fully adapting to the fast-paced home decor world, especially in comparison to other interior design trends. "I don't think wallpaper borders ever went out of style, but I think they were rooted in tradition and never evolved alongside the everchanging design space." Says Bradley. "While historically wallpaper borders were used to hide imperfections in the walls, it has been great to see the modern revival of the trend and all the different ways people are getting creative. I am loving how much fun people are having with their variations as they are truly the best way to add some personality to your space."

How can you use wallpaper borders in modern spaces?

Hoppen vouches for wallpaper borders, noting that they are a budget-friendly way to add a little more flair to a home. Could it be the new lick of paint we've all been waiting for? 

"They are a great (and inexpensive!) way to update one’s space — adding just the right amount of character and newness to a room," says Hoppen. "Since they are low-cost and take up a small amount of space, wallpaper borders are great when one is looking to experiment with their interiors or just freshen up a room." Adds Bradley.

Black and white wallpaper border at bottom edge of molding in neural room with cream boucle chair

(Image credit: Lick)

Of course, the finishes and prints have come a long way since sunshine shapes (although we can see that coming back also). "What is so fun to see now is how designers are putting their own modern twist on the traditional design element, incorporating a contemporary edge and showing consumers the different ways they can be used," says Hoppen.  

Bradley also notes that the choice is far more impressive now, too. "I believe that in the past there weren’t as many (if any?) cool options that would target a younger demographic, but now, brands are pairing wallpapers alongside new decor trends like color blocking a room, maximalist styles, or even monochrome designs." 

And, there are a ton of ways you could incorporate borders into your room. Hoppen's collection is full of neutrals, but that's not to say that they won't look next-level gorgeous in a maximalist space full of color. 

Hues and patterns are one thing, but placement is also another consideration for an elevated design aesthetic. 

Jones explains that "the strips of patterned paper that went along the middle or the tops of walls are usually the first thing to be stripped off" in a redesign. So the fact that some of the Lick x Hoppen wallpaper borders were installed running along the bottom edge of the walls instead, shows that they're designed and destined for modern spaces.

Wallpaper borders from Lick x Kelly Hoppen

(Image credit: Lick)

Using wallpaper borders in small spaces

In a small space, consider layering borders to create a mesmerizing accent wall or playing with dimension to make a space feel larger or cozier. You could of course go for the classic centerline look, as a geometric finish will still add a cool dose of pattern to every kind of space, even highlighting the best parts of more compact rooms.

"Small spaces are where you can really go all out and play around with your design — definitely have some fun with these," says Bradley. "Wallpaper borders enhance a space by giving it loads of character, adding just the right amount of personality to a smaller room. Since the borders highlight the outline of a room, you'll notice the proportions. So while you aren’t making your room feel bigger, you are enhancing the space by drawing attention to its design." 

Though a border sounds pretty straightforward when it comes to design, there are ways to personalize it. Bradley says, ‘‘The sky's the limit when working with neutral wallpaper." The colors and styles you choose all depend on your tastes and preferences of course, but don't be afraid to get creative. 

Hoppen notes how "The key to styling neutral wallpapers is balance. When styling, think about how the interior's wider textures, fabrics and finishes will complement the neutral walls."

So wallpaper borders are back for good, and did they even go away after all? More importantly, will you be using them anytime soon?

Hey there! I’m Cam, Deputy Editor of Realhomes.com. I’ve been here since early 2020 and I have the best job of working with a ton of different talented writers and creators to bring you the most inspiring home design content! As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing! 

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