Refresh Your House With Paint or Wallpaper

Paint color brings the room into focus in a Long Island townhouse sitting room. (Photo by Philip Ennis Photography, courtesy of Wendy Interiors)

If you’re looking for a fairly easy and inexpensive way to redecorate your house, consider sprucing up your walls. Adding a fresh coat of paint or some eye-catching, textured wallpaper is a sure-fire way to brighten up any room.

You can achieve a whole new look by painting walls white and moldings black, says Wendy Lepkoff, owner of Bethpage-based Wendy Interiors, Inc. For a more modern look, Lepkoff suggests pairing gray walls with white moldings or wallpapering one wall and painting the rest of a room’s walls a color that’s prominent in that wallpaper.

“If there’s existing carpet or an area rug or wood flooring, that should be taken into account when selecting the wallpaper,” advises Lepkoff.

Accent walls — wallpapering just one or two walls in a room — are trending today and white ceilings are no longer de rigeur, says Lepkoff, adding that off-white, cream and shades of gray are popular options. Popular in bedrooms and dens, accent walls are typically created behind beds or sofas.

“Sometimes, a beautiful look with a high ceiling is to paint it one shade lighter than the walls,” she says.


Ranging from basic vinyl to embellished with velvet overlay or beaded crystals, wallpaper comes in many varieties, notes Bari Seidon, an interior designer at Floor Decor & Design of Syosset and Rockville Centre. 

“Wallpaper is a definite upgrade to any wall,” says Seidon. “It can be textured, it can just be patterned, but you get the best bang for your buck with wallpaper.”

The most common use of wallpaper these days is in the powder room.

“Guests use your powder room and there’s not much to look at in a bathroom, so you’re giving them interest,” Seidon explains.

As with wallpapering powder rooms, dining rooms often are wallpapered since, Seidon says, “you entertain in the dining room and it’s giving your friends something to look at.”

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Deep colors and damask wallpaper help remake a guest room into a reading room. (Photo by Philip Ennis Photography, courtesy of Wendy Interiors)


Depending on which room and what section of it you’re working on, you’ll want to choose different paint finishes.

For trim –– door and moldings –– go with a semigloss finish, which is more durable, makes surfaces stand out and is easier to clean, advises Evan Kuby, manager of Aboff’s Paints in Huntington. 

To make your ceiling less prominent, use a flat finish that will recess the surface. For guest rooms, or other rooms that are used infrequently, Kuby recommends flat paint, because “it looks nicer and it doesn’t need to be cleaned often.” 

Kids’ rooms, conversely, require matte or eggshell paint, both of which have more durable and washable finishes.

Full bathrooms, which get hot and steamy, also require more heavy-duty, shiny paints, like Benjamin Moore’s mildew-resistant Aura Bath and Spa, or Kitchen and Bath lines.

Select a color based on lighting and what hues you already have in the room, says Kuby, who advises customers to bring in swatches whenever possible.

Darker colors look better in rooms with a lot of windows and higher ceilings, and shades of gray and gray/beige are hot right now, Kuby says.

“They’re neutral, they go with a lot,” he explains. “They’re not too cold or too warm and they kind of blend with a lot of other colors.”

In the living room or guest room, create the look of wallpaper with paint with a faux finish, which layers glaze with base colors, he says

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