How to Use Wallpaper in Your Kitchen Design

February 17, 2020

Wallpaper in the kitchen? Don’t think that tile and stone are your only options. This article outlines how to use wallpaper in your kitchen. Because the kitchen is ground-zero to home cooking, it is also home to splashes, splatters, and spills. If you cook (or only use it as a receiving hub for your take-out… no judgement here!) it makes sense to stick to materials that are easily cleaned. We’d also like to suggest you think outside that box and consider making your kitchen a more intimate and elegant location.

Think of the kitchen like any other room you’re decorating. It needs attention paid to color, pattern, hard and soft materials, metals, the list goes on! In this post, we will show you how to use wallpaper in the kitchen. We will also reveal how we employed this design idea in our most recent kitchen renovation.  The post ends with other gorgeous wallpaper in the kitchen inspiration to get you started dreaming of your perfect kitchen.

Centered by Design, Lincoln Park Kitchen Remodel

How to Use Wallpaper in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is often thought of as the “heart of the home” and a place of gathering for the family and guests. It’s hard to get people out of the kitchen! Why not embrace this and make your kitchen not only a place of functionality but also of gathering and entertainment. Consider adding wallpaper on cabinet backs, behind open shelving, or on accent walls that are out of the way of direct cooking – even the space above cabinets to the ceiling. The above photo from our recent Lincoln Park condo renovation utilizes wallpaper in two of the ways we’ve suggested, both on cabinet backs and on an accent wall.

Installing wallpaper in your kitchen is one of the easiest ways to make it feel personalized. Infusing color and pattern will give your kitchen special visual detailing. One of our favorite ways to use wallpaper is behind kitchen cabinets. When doing this, choose glass cabinet fronts to make sure your wallpaper doesn’t go unnoticed. It creates a stunning jewel-box effect that highlights the contents of your cabinets.

As seen in our Lincoln Park condo, we employed this technique on one wall of cabinets with a dry bar and on an adjacent wall to tie it into the rest of the kitchen. Keeping the rest of the cabinets solid gives a streamlined and cohesive look, while highlighting the cabinets above the dry bar lets them shine. These wallpapered cabinet backs face a living room, transitioning flawlessly from kitchen space to living space. 

Choosing Your Wallpaper

Wallpaper is generally less expensive than tile or stone and easier to replace. For maximum durability, consider vinyl finishes and look for labels like “extra washable” or “scrubbable”. Natural wallcoverings such as grasscloths are timeless and durable with the added benefit of adding texture and warmth.

The possibilities with pattern and color are almost limitless. With pattern, your options range from large scale prints like blooming florals to geometric small scale prints and organic motifs. We love the classic yet dreamy Cole and Son’s Nuvolette, as seen in Logan Killen Interiors’ Uptown Project in New Orleans:

Logan Killen Interior Design

In our Lincoln Park condo, we used Schumacher’s Belvedere in Orrington Blue. An updated take on the trellis design, this pattern by Schumacher gives depth to the cabinets and plays with the grey/blue tones in the cabinet paint color:

Centered by Design, cabinets backed with Schumacher Orrington Blue.

Wallpaper Installation Tips for Backs of Cabinets

Installing wallpaper in the back of cabinets is no harder than wallpapering walls, but special considerations must be made. Our wallpaper installer recommends sanding the backs of your kitchen cabinets and applying wallpaper primer for maximum adhesion. Make sure to also prepare by removing shelving and doors of cabinets if possible.

For flawless installations, we always recommend a professional who will take care with your beautiful wallpaper.

If you’re feeling adventurous or would like to know more about the how to’s before hiring a professional installer, take look at this Better Homes and Gardens article that outlines the process and all the tools necessary for installing wallpaper!

Centered by Design, upper cabinets backed with wallpaper.

Kitchen Wallpaper Inspiration

Feeling inspired? Take a look at the links below to get more inspiration for your kitchen project or just daydream. How would you interpret wallpaper in the kitchen?


Photo by: Eric Piasecki via Elle Decor

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Image via Better Homes + Gardens

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Image via House & Home – Design – Sarah Hartill, Photo – Alex Lukey.

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Centered by Design, Lincoln Park Condo Renovation

Materials meet in our wallpapered kitchen! Pale blue cabinets, quartz countertops, patterned wallpaper, marble subway tile and natural woven window shades – plus poppies. When in doubt always add some flowers, happy decorating!

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Meet Claire

Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!

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