When it came time to design the home office out of which she would run her wildly popular website, A Beautiful Mess, Elsie Larson knew the space would have to be multifunctional. From Monday through Friday, it operates as a place where Elsie can do both computer work and spread out to bring the DIYs for which she is known to life. On the weekends, though, the room pulls double duty as a kids play space, where crafts and fun reign supreme. “I really believe that functional spaces can have a big aesthetic. You can do both!” says Elsie.
Last year when Elsie purchased the home, she immediately pegged the former in-law suite—complete with a coffee bar and a spot for a refrigerator—for this dual-functionality space. But making a functional space that’s also beautiful requires planning. “Before I decorate, I always imagine how we want to live in a room,” she explains. “For this room, I have a balance of comforts for my work life—a big desk, a coffee station—and comforts for my mom life—a large TV and tons of kids' art supplies. Plan your life before your decor!”
With her plans for how she wanted to use the space solidified, it was time to start thinking about the design process—but there was one architectural element that required a little creativity: the awkward vaulted ceilings typical of homes built in the 1990s. To create the cocoon-like experience Elsie envisioned for this space, she knew she had to be bold in her design choices. “I wanted to increase the charm factor and make it feel more cozy. Wallpaper on the ceiling can achieve both of these goals,” says Elsie. Wallpapering the fifth wall felt like the obvious solution for both creating a welcoming, enveloping space, and transforming her ceiling from an eyesore into a design feature.
“I've always been a fan of wallpapered ceilings and a ‘big look’ like you'd see in a Wes Anderson movie… Vaulted ceilings are not always beautiful or ‘cool’ and this one wasn't before we added the wallpaper. As soon as the wallpaper went in it completely transformed the room,” she says. “The room didn't have much of a vibe before, and now it feels incredibly cozy.”
Pattern selection for this space—with its many angles, turns, and corners—was just as much about strategy as it was about aesthetics. After careful consideration, Elsie felt that Sonoma (White) from our Lisel Jane Ashlock collection fit the bill. “I was also looking for a dense floral with a repeat that wasn't too obvious, because this makes irregular seams easier to hide,” Elsie explains. But there was also a personal, more emotional aspect to her pattern selection. “Because the wallpaper has bits of red and green, I associate it with the home in Home Alone, which, if you haven't noticed, is almost completely decorated in red and green,” says Elsie. “It's so cozy, nostalgic, and feels like home. I love this wallpaper so much!”
Elsie is no stranger to the power of well placed pattern—she routinely uses wallpaper in her home to infuse it with personality and share her unique style, which she says has changed a bit in her new home. “I am gravitating toward traditional styles and nostalgic vibes,” she says. “There's a little bit of granny inspiration, but it feels very fresh to me. I think many of us are a little over the ‘all white’ trend and ready for something with more depth and layers.”
And when depth and layers are in order, wallpaper is Elsie’s go-to resource: “More than any other design choice, wallpaper can completely transform the way a space feels. It's highly specific and you can really express your personality and the feeling you want your home to evoke through wallpaper. The possibilities are endless.”
Want to decorate like Elsie? Start with her top wallpaper tips:
Make big-picture decisions before adding wallpaper. It's important to consider if you can see into the space from other rooms and how it will transform your home as a whole. Choose your color scheme and have a mood board set before ordering wallpaper samples.
Think of how you will use your room all year. For example, I don't love bold wallpaper in the dining or living room because we'll have different party themes and seasonal decor in there throughout the year. That said, I would totally do a bold pattern for a guest room, powder room, or even a bedroom.
Go bold! Contrary to my last tip, I do think bold pattern wallpaper is so much more exciting and satisfying than a small neutral print. Once you've committed, go all in with your chosen style.
And here’s a bit of encouragement for fellow toddler moms: Your three year old doesn't care what the room looks like. Decorate it in a way that makes you want to spend time there—that's a win/win for everyone!