California Cool: The Modern Wallpaper Designs You'll Want in Your Home

California Cool: The Modern Wallpaper Designs You'll Want in Your Home

By Rachael Medina
Staff Writer March 17, 2020
Make your home retro-chic with mid-century modern wallpaper. Photo courtesy of Wayfair.

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Cosmos wallpaper designs will leave you and your guests starry eyed. Photo courtesy of West Elm.
Enliven your living space with a vibrant mural wall. Photo courtesy of Murals Your Way.
Bring a piece of the outdoors in with tropical wallpaper and greenery. Photo courtesy of Hunker.
Incorporate spice-inspired hues such as sage and ground mustard to jazz up your home. Photo courtesy of Wayfair.
Given the numerous floral wallpapers options, it is easy to see why these patterns have withstood the test of time. Photo courtesy of Etsy.
Hand-printed designs are both fun and sophisticated additions to any home. Photo courtesy of Photo Wall.
Abstract patterns create visual interest but are still subtle enough to complement other design elements. Photo courtesy of Buddy Icon.
Textured walls can provide an elegant, subdued touch without the addition of color. Photo courtesy of Wall Sauce.

Today’s wallpaper aesthetics are as varied as California’s landscapes. From beachy boho and subdued to bright and bold, this year’s wallpaper designs build off last decade’s mounting trends—but wallpaper in 2020 isn’t what you’d expect.

Though you may have already started picturing your grandma’s “modern” farmhouse wallpaper or some tacky floral design, wallpaper has evolved into a new era that finally embraces the classic California vibe. In addition to adopting the Golden State’s cool style, many designers—such as Los Angeles’ Madison and Grow—are opting for more eco-friendly wallpaper options that are manufactured with responsibly sourced fibers endorsed by the Forestry Stewardship Council and are free of chlorine and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). 

Since wallpaper is available at any price point, it’s the perfect solution for updating your space, bringing the outside in, and decorating your Bay Area apartment (thanks, removable wallpaper) regardless of your budget. Here are the year’s best wallpaper trends that can turn any house into a home. 

Update Your Home with These Modern Wallpaper Designs

Make Moves with Mid-Century Mod

If you’ve been craving a trip to Palm Springs or you recently returned from Modernism Week, mid-century modern wallpaper is the ideal way to make every day feel like a vacay. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, the geometric patterns are subtle enough to fit into your existing decor but bold enough to create visual interest.

Shoot for the Stars

Star-inspired wallpapers have taken over home decor. Between strict star-prints, constellation-patterned space wallpapers, and designs based on the 12 astrological signs, there are hundreds of ways to incorporate this trend into your home. Cosmos wallpapers tend to have dark blue backgrounds with lighter-colored design elements, making them a great option for a focal wall. Pair these striking designs with natural light or bright furniture and flooring to balance out their intensity.

Master the Murals

Murals make some of today’s best wallpapers because they add color, art, and culture to any room. Since murals come in all styles—covering everything from the San Francisco Mission District aesthetic to the fine art you’d expect to find at Los Angeles’ top art galleries—they easily adapt to every taste. With bold colors and captivating imagery, mural wallpaper is best kept to a single wall.

Add Pops of Paradise

Tropical prints have been popping up everywhere. Featuring a range of styles from palm leaves to monstera prints, lush wallpaper is an ideal way to bring in a touch of the outside. Jungle-chic motifs are also incredibly versatile and available in a multitude of colors. Complement any space with iconic pink-and-green banana leaf prints; the white backgrounds of Palm Beach leaf designs; or dark, Art Deco palm-tree patterns. Considering incorporating these patterns into your modern bathroom wallpaper to enliven a mundane area of the home, too.

Spice It Up

This year, we’re getting all of our color inspo from the spice rack. Whether you’re feeling the dusty hue of sage green, vibrant yellow of turmeric, or pastel vibe of lavender, minimalist wallpaper is anything but boring with these trendy shades. Take it up a notch by pairing two of your spicy faves in a geometric pattern.

Spring Forward 

Modern floral wallpaper designs come with a major style upgrade. Available in large-scale prints with bold colors or in smaller, pastel-shaded designs, floral patterns are incredibly diverse. These options will allow you to match the walls to your existing decor or will inspire you to explore new styles. From tropical blooms to springtime blossoms, the possibilities are endless.

Be One-of-a-Kind

Hand-printed designs are sweeping the state, adding a touch of personalization to the home. Since these designs are intended to be one of a kind, the patterns are more free-form, creating a touch of whimsy without losing the maturity of modern wallpapers. These designs also generate a sense of playful cohesion in the space, so they are the ideal solution for an empty kitchen or living room wall.

Go Abstract

Abstract patterns typically come with a plain background accented by dual-toned shapes and textures. These creative designs add character without drawing too much attention, allowing statement pieces placed throughout the room to shine. These patterns can also create a sense of motion and serve as good alternatives to plain walls in entryways, mudrooms, and hallways.

Feel It Out

Textured walls have the ability to mimic intricate tile work or finishes like cement, wood, or fabric—but they don’t cost as much. Smooth marble wallpaper, for instance, adds a touch of elegance while seamlessly blending into any design or color palette. These designs are particularly effective in transitional spaces where the outside meets the indoors, because they meld the textural style of the exterior with the refined elegance of the interior spaces.

Let us know which modern wallpaper designs you’re drawn to in the comments below.

Staff Writer
Rachael Medina

Staff Writer Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the senior content writer and operations manager for She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests o…

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