Posted on November 30 2017
Within the wide grouping of grasscloth and natural wallpaper, cork wallpaper is a subcategory that’s valued for its understated yet elegant appearance. With minimal to no imagery at all, cork wallpaper designs rely on its textured look, abstract details, and natural colors for visual impact. In this article, we cover what makes cork wallpaper stand out from other natural wallpapers and how you can use cork wallpaper in your own design projects.
What makes cork wallpaper different than other grasscloth wallpaper?
From a visual standpoint, cork wallpaper differs from other grasscloth and natural wallpapers due to its smoother appearance that is less “structured.” Popular grasscloth patterns, such as Pina (shown above), often feature horizontal or vertical strips of natural threads and fibers that create a more uniformed, repetitive look. These tightly knit strands create a highly textured look that is very tactile.
On the other hand, cork wallpaper such as Paneled Cork (shown above), generally feature less repetition and more abstract visual elements. Creases and indentations are randomly scattered across the surface, creating a much different look that is less textured, but more uniform.
Another major difference between traditional grasscloth and natural wallpapers and cork wallpapers is the color availability and what you will find in stores. Grasscloth wallpaper can fall within the “warm” or “cool” color categories, giving it more variation than regular cork wallpaper (click those links to see examples of both). In addition, some grasscloth patterns feature the use of multiple colors in one pattern, such as the Raffia pattern above. With orange, yellow, and grey strands weaving together, this grasscloth wallpaper product has a paper-like texture.
For the most part, the majority of cork wallpapers are featured in neutral tones and in color palettes that are generally more limited. Cork wallpaper products are often produced in brown, taupe, beige, and grey. While this may seem like a limitation for any design project, it is actually a blessing in disguise as cork wallpapers are often used to accentuate a space’s natural elements. The neutral color offerings also allow it to be easily paired with other wallpaper patterns, as will be discussed below.
Our Top picks for cork wallpaper
Cork wallpaper provides increased sound and heat insulation over other grasscloth wallpaper materials, such as arrowroot and jute. For our first pick, we think this taupe cork wallpaper is the perfect choice to achieve a naturalistic, relaxed look for any space. It’s an elegant, sophisticated look that works with the majority of color palettes – perfect for pairing with preexisting furniture or décor.
While cork wallpaper patterns generally don’t display images, some products do contain additional “styling” and design. Soft Cork, for example, has a subtle paneled look that showcases blocks of cork strips in different brown shades.
Speaking of colors, cork wallpaper can also be found in metallic variations. The surface features a reflective layer that subtly shines in the light. When used in a room with a lot of natural lighting, this cork wallcovering has a glamorous, shimmering appearance.
Our last pick for cork wallpaper is this black Paneled Cork, which makes for an outstanding complimentary pattern when paired with a feature wall. The versatility of this product means it can also be used alone, creating a dark, cozy atmosphere that is on-trend.
Pairing cork wallpaper with other wallpaper styles
Because of its minimal design, cork wallpaper is an excellent choice for pairing with other wallpaper styles. For instance, if you have a feature wall, using cork wallpaper on the other walls can unify the interior and create a more visually coherent atmosphere. Below are some wallpaper choices for feature walls that would look seamless with cork wallpaper:
The combination of two “weathered” patterns creates a rustic, aged look that is highly traditional. The dusty brown colors have a vintage appeal and are a stylish choice for spaces both residential and commercial. If you’re looking to create a classic interior style, damask wallpaper is often an excellent choice as the floral motifs hint at tradition and history.
For a more contemporary look, try pairing a map wallpaper with an off-white cork wallpaper. The color palette is simple, focusing on the soft white tones and pastel blues of the map. While using the map throughout the space may create a busy or complicated look (particularly in small spaces), using it as a feature wall does just the trick.
Last but not least, a geometric wallpaper and a natural wallpaper makes for a truly interesting duo. With this combo, we have a contrast between nature/organic themes and geometric/synthetic imagery. In addition to the visual contrast, we like this pairing because of the light colors that really open up the space, creating a more welcoming environment.