Wallpaper has a new look and it's all about the unexpected – designer Marie Flanigan talks us through how to embrace this once-dated decor in 2024

Think beyond the walls when it comes to decorating with wallpaper

dining room with green printed wallpaper on cabinets
(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors, Photography Julie Soefer)

Decorating with wallpaper is a great way to add design interest to your space by adding color and pattern. Used across a wide range of interior styles, from traditional to maximalist, wallpaper is a classic decor feature that can totally transform the home with fairly minimal effort required. 

And while wallpaper is most typically used – as its name suggests – as wall decor, either as an accent wall or across multiple walls of a room, there are far more unexpected and creative wallpaper ideas, that go beyond the walls. And that's how wallpaper is going into 2024.

Proving exactly that, interior designer Marie Flanigan, founder of Marie Flanigan Interiors recently took to Instagram to share her ideas about the different ways you can decorate with wallpaper in order to make it feel up to date as well as timeless.

'Next time you want to create interest in a room by using wallpaper, look beyond the walls,' she explains in the video. 'I love to use wallpaper on the ceiling, inside wall panelings or ceiling panelings, on furniture for added texture...'

'My latest favorite is putting it on the outer doors of built-in cabinets which gives you the opportunity to wrap your wallpaper entirely around the room, for a big dramatic effect,' she continues. It's this idea that we're most intrigued by, arguably one of the most unexpected ways of decorating with wallpaper.

As Marie explains, adding wallpaper to the outer doors of built-in cabinets can achieve a dramatic look, especially by choosing to continue the same wallpaper that's already reflected on the walls of a room. Similar to the effect of color drenching, using wallpaper in this way can help achieve cozy and comforting space throughout the home, from the living room to the dining room.

dining room with green patterned wallpaper on built in storage

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors, Photography Julie Soefer)

Before fully embracing this idea, it's important to consider the overall look you want to achieve, as Marie tells H&G: 'When considering whether or not to add wallpaper to your built-ins, always consider the space and what the wallpaper would be competing with. If you have a more minimal color palette and want a covering that packs a punch, a graphic wallpaper is a great option. If you’re applying it to a storage space that you don’t want to draw too much attention to, look for something somewhat neutral and a bit still textural, like a grasscloth.'

Marie Flanigan
Marie Flanigan

Marie Flanigan is an award-winning interior designer whose passion and achievements in design have positioned her as one of the nation’s best. She is classically trained and practiced architect, and her trademark style is evident through the sophisticated use of color, texture, and light. Every home she designs receives her personal signature of timeless elegance and innovative simplicity.

Beyond how colorful or pared-back the wallpaper you opt for is, you can also choose to channel this home decor idea in varying amounts. If you don't want to make so much of a statement then you could start by wallpapering the backs of bookshelves for a more subtle look, or, for added drama, wallpaper the ceiling too for maximum impact.

'Since the options for wallpaper designs are seemingly endless, I believe you can use these added applications, like the backs of bookshelves, cabinetry, and ceilings in any home,' adds Marie. 'Just be sure to stay true to the home’s aesthetic.'

If you're looking to try something new with your decor, adding wallpaper to these unexpected spaces can go a long way in transforming the look and feel of your home. Below, we've rounded up some of our favorite wallpapers for you to shop, for both minimalist and more maximal decor schemes. And if you're not used to decorating with wallpaper, we've explained how to wallpaper a room to help you on your way. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.