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The Walls Should Talk

Outsize wall coverings in the form of graphic wallpaper, photographic prints, and bold tile.


Tiled office, Mission. Heath Ceramics.

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Bathroom with photo-printed casework, Cow Hollow. Medium Plenty.

Photo: Melissa Kaseman

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Wallpapered breakfast nook, Sonoma. Ken Fulk.

Photo: Courtesy of Ken Fulk

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Waxed Venetian plaster dining room, NoPa. Caroline Lizarraga.

Photo: Catherine Nguyen


Banish memories of grandmotherly florals: Wall coverings are not what they used to be. This, in part, is because the cost of printing high-quality wallpaper has plummeted. “Suddenly, there‘s all this totally crazy, really awesome graphic wallpaper,” says Jessica Weigley, principal at Síol Studios. “It’s the modern version of the accent wall.”

Animal prints, opulent blooms, and poppy patterns are jazzing up bathrooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms across the Bay Area. And it doesn't stop there. When it comes to decking the walls, Bay Area homeowners are going big. Some hire street artists to create personalized murals; others enlist designers to digitally print blown-up photographs onto surfaces, like the Cow Hollow casework shown here; still others call in decorative painters like Caroline Lizarraga, who created the contrasting chain-link effect at right. And in their new full-length book, Tile Makes the Room, Heath Ceramics co-owners Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic advocate tiling unusual spaces, from living room walls to bedroom ceilings.

“There’s been a huge shift toward art that feels custom-made and hyper-specific,” says O+A principal Denise Cherry. “Nothing off-the-shelf.”

Read more New Rules of Design coverage here.

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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