Decorating Dilemmas: Sara’s Wallpaper Purge

Decorating a keeping room and downstairs without wallpaper

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

We are in the process of ripping down a whole house full of 80s wallpaper — finally! It’s literally happening as I type, so I feel a sense of urgency about what to do next. Now that we have a clean slate, we are confused about what colors to paint everything.

We aren’t starting totally from scratch — we are keeping the kitchen/dining floor tiles and green kitchen counters. But I might paint the cabinets since we are painting anyway. We’re keeping the carpet in the family room and hallway/stairs. I’d also love to use a fun and fresh wallpaper in the half bath, it seems like a good chance for that since it’s so small.

I think since we are still using some existing materials it’s hard to figure out how to make this feel totally like “ours” when some of it is still “theirs.”

We don’t want to go super modern with whatever we choose. But I will definitely not complain if I never see a flower (with different flower border!) or ivy stripes again!

Thanks for your help,


Kitchen to eating space
looking into kitchen
coming in front doorview of half bath

Dear Sara,

With you fresh start with a exit from wallpaper, the color choices are endless because it is all about paint color. We recommend Benjamin Moore Cloud White (OC-130) for your trim and kitchen cabinets and then try Benjamin Moore Natural Wicker (OC-1) for the walls. We chose more neutral tones since you need to balance the warm toned tile floor and the green countertop. No matter what color you choose, we always recommend painting a 30” square on the wall to see how the color is affected by your natural light.

The sitting area off the kitchen can be a warm and cozy spot for all family gatherings. The Chianni Trestle Table is a flexible table that will allow easy seating for dinner parties. Pull up our Constance Chairs in the Chestnut finish on one long side of the table and a Dorchester Bench on the other. This gives a relaxed style and flexibility in your seating. Add two Parsons Chairs at each end of the table to finish off your seating options. Our Vintage Ticking Stripe Sandalwood is a soft neutral color that would work great as a slipcover for the Parsons Chairs.

On the left wall, place a Louis XVI Sideboard in a Warm Green finish and then top it with our Birch Grove Art. Storage and beauty … a fabulous combination! On the opposite wall, our Garden District Mirrors would look great hung in multiples – either horizontally or vertically.

Donning the space with a rug brings in softness and texture. Our Diamond Sisal Rug has a distinctive pattern but is still neutral so as not to compete with the tile floor. Speaking of adding texture, we suggest hanging Document Brown Drapery panels on the window to soften the hard corners of the window frame.

The Cosette Chandelier hung above the table finishes off the space and brings in task lighting. Add our Linen Trim Drum Chandelier Shades to diffuse the light … creating a warm glow.

Remember to add a Diamond Sisal Rug to your kitchen along with Constance Counter Stools at your bar!

In our wallpaper options, you can find updated selections for you half-bath. We recommend selecting a pattern that is timeless.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team


Decorating a keeping room and downstairs without wallpaper

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    October 28, 2015

    Where I can I find the fabric for the center pillow? I’m actually interested in where I can find all of the pillows. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      We’re so happy to hear you like this pillow fabric! It’s actually our Courtney Peacock fabric, and you can order a pillow in it here. Simply scroll down to find the Courtney Peacock option!
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply


    September 6, 2015

    What is the fabric on the top pillow of the samples?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      September 8, 2015

      That’s our Mila Citron fabric.
      So happy you like it!
      The How to Decorate Team