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Published: Thursday, 2/1/2007

Book It: Find the Perfect Wallpaper on Your Lunch Hour

(ARA) - It's a fact of life: the more choices, the more decisions there are to make. And when it comes to selecting wallpaper from the wide assortment of patterns in every imaginable color available today, it can be a little daunting. There are patterns to fit every decorating style, every type of room and every interest and hobby. So if you don't have any idea of what you like before you go to the wallpaper store, you may find yourself both distracted by beauty and frustrated by too much of a good thing.

Yet, with a little planning, you can select a pattern you love on your lunch hour. Here are some tried-and-true tips to help keep you on track:

Do your homework. For inspiration, look to decorating magazines and clip the pages of rooms you like. When you review all these clippings, you'll notice recurring themes, which will help guide you in your wallpaper selection. Bring your favorites among these pages with you to the store.

Look around the room you plan to wallpaper for visual clues that can help you make your choice. Since many wallpaper collections are available online, you may also want to begin your search there.

Bring props. A fabric swatch, bath towel, pillow or decorative accessory in colors and patterns you want to coordinate with will help in honing in on your choices. Unlike paint, the color you see in a wallpaper sample book will be the true color on your walls, making it very easy to match colors.

Come prepared. Before you go shopping, know how much wallpaper you'll need, so you're ready to order the paper when you make your selection. For help with measuring, visit www.wallcoverings.org. Don't forget to bring pen and paper to jot down the sample book name and pattern numbers. You may also want to carry a pack of Post-its so you can tag the patterns you like; this will help you quickly narrow your choices of tagged pages from the assortment of books.

Get to know wallpaper books at a glance. A retailer's wallpaper library is often organized by design style, so grab the books with spines marked "contemporary," "traditional" or other words that speak directly to your preferences. Then take a close look at the cover; if you are attracted to the colors and patterns there, chances are you'll like what's inside. Pull about six books, but don't go through them as you pull them; it'll slow you down. Well-worn books are always a safe bet. Throw in a wild card -- a book with an intriguing cover -- but one that may seem a little far afield.

Have a selection strategy. Typically the collection's more "statement" patterns are in the front of the book. If you tend to gravitate toward the more subtle styles, start from the back. When a pattern stops you in your tracks, tag it with a Post-it and move through the book and on to the next. Once you can compare them back-to-back, you should be able to select a favorite.

If you can't decide on a pattern, borrow your favorite books to bring home with you or order samples of your top patterns, which should only take a few days. The samples give you the advantage of being able to tape them to your walls and move them around the room to appreciate in different lights and angles. Second opinions from family members can also help. Then you can place your order on your next lunch hour. Courtesy of ARA Content

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