How you use wallcovering is as important as the pattern or look you choose.
"A common mistake is to use patterns unimaginatively," says Jeanne Byington, a spokesperson for the Wallcovering Manufacturers Association. "Even if the design is beautiful, it's boring if it's on the wall, the drapery, the bed throws. When mixing patterns, make sure the colors match or are complementary and the pattern scales different. Use precoordinated patterns. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.
"You don't have to choose wild patterns or flowers and birds. You can use stripes, the sponged look or tone-on-tone patterns like the damask fabric lookalikes."
No-pattern patterns are more delicate -- they don't punch you in the face."
Other ways to use wallcovering:
* Cover the ceiling. "Some call the ceiling the fifth wall," says Janet Verdeguer, editor and co-publisher of the trade journal The Wall Paper. For years, decorators have employed gilded and silvered ceiling papers to add a glow to an otherwise neutral room.
* Frame a doorway or windows with borders as a substitute for missing architectural moldings or enhancing what's there.
* Use a border as a chair rail and treat the upper and lower portions to different paint or wallcovering treatments. Paper within areas defined by wood moldings or borders.
* Create a decorative screen, with two different patterns.
* Cover the inside of a bookcase or cupboard, either to match the wall behind it or to set off the piece.