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Debbie Travis: Wallpaper Style Changes with the Times

Dear Debbie: Fifteen years ago my husband and I removed the old wallpaper from our first tiny home and painted all the walls. We've enjoyed changing colours and even applied some of the paint finishes that were so popular (sponging the nursery), but now we are looking at all the great wallpaper patterns and thinking why not? Is wallpaper back in fashion?

Carl and Louisa Dear Carl and Louisa: Painted surfaces will never go out of fashion. Paint is the simplest and most economical decorating tool anywhere. A few coats of colour and you have transformed a room to fit your mood, age and lifestyle.

Paint finishes have journeyed from sponging and ragrolling to more subtle patinas.

And wallpaper is back in vogue, taking the design scene by storm with stylish patterns and eye-popping colours that resonate with mid-century styles.

The '50s and '60s have returned with an edge - the sleek chrome, vibrant shades, geometric shapes, bold floral patterns and stripes, hanging lamps, and wooden floors are inspiring this generation. Beads, candles, psychedelic shapes and symbols, flower power and nature themes have re-invented the Summer of Love with a 21st-century vibe.

Check out the fabulous wallpaper collections offered online at Brewster Home Fashions (brewsterwallcovering.com).

The floral wallpaper pictured at right shows swirling, lush peony trails in watercolour taupe, gold and wine hues by Beacon House. Raised inks and designer texture effects enhance the traditional pattern.

The vignette mixes nostalgic prints of granny's past with today's trends. Note the shiny chrome chandelier and the chairs with a chrome handle on the back, too.

Now imagine the table set with either heirloom linen or a punchy array of pink and gold dishware, silver candlesticks, crystal decanters and sleek glassware. Either style would be fresh and fun.

Ultra-modern choices include an abstract feather print in a chic spectrum of greys by Eijffingers's Fleurique Collection, which makes a dazzling statement in a hallway with a long white bench lined with a riot of cushions in a wild mix of colours.

Paint and wallpaper should complement each other, one building on the strength of the other. Paint a large open space in a warm, neutral shade, then paper a feature wall such as the dining area or a dull hallway.

A bold pattern covering one wall is all that is required to make your statement.

Dear Debbie: The pocket door and trim around the door and baseboards in my living room are all stained brown and are in great shape. The floor is wood and walls are peachy-beige.

All I see in magazines and on TV are white baseboards.

We are remodelling; to be in style, should I be painting them white?

Sally Dear Sally: I don't think you need worry about being in style.

Always think personal preference first. Staining allows the grain and quality of wood to shine, and creates a warm, comfortable atmosphere in a room. If you like the look and feel of your wood trim - including the baseboard - there is no reason to change it.

Painting baseboards white is preferable if the baseboards are small or are not made of real wood - a common practice in new builds. It gives a clean fresh line that suits a modern, minimal style.

Older homes with significant baseboards are shown with white as a means of lightening up the space. But this is only one way to go.

If you feel that there is too much dark wood in the room, then paint, but it sounds to me like you are happy with what you have, so stick with it and be a style leader rather than a follower.

Debbie Travis's House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to . You can follow Debbie on Twitter at twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's website, debbietravis.com

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