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Style inspiration: How to make a bold splash of wallpaper work in your room

Loose meets linear in a Norwell dining room that celebrates the power of pattern.

Joyelle West

When your family owns an interior design firm, you’re expected to make a splash. Martha O’Hara knew Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito wallpaper would accomplish this task when she recommended it for the dining room of her son’s new Norwell home. “The pattern is pretty wild, but they were willing to take a risk for impact,” says Emily Anderson, the senior designer at Martha O’Hara Interiors in Minneapolis who worked on the project. The formal dining room is the perfect place for it, since it’s used for special occasions rather than every day. Plus, it opens off the entry, so it wows people right when they walk in. The secret to the room’s success, Anderson says: “Everything else is boxier, letting the wallpaper do its thing.”

1. The custom rug by Fay + Belle, a company also owned by the family, holds its own against the pattern on the wall and grounds the room. “The geometric design contrasts nicely with the paper’s scribble,” Anderson says.


2. Green velvet head chairs anchor either end of the table. “They add color in a limited dose,” Anderson says, “and with only two, they’re easy to switch out if they get sick of them.”

3. Mirrors from Pottery Barn make the room seem larger. The strict linear grids are a counterpoint to the deconstructed lines of the wallpaper, while the oil-rubbed bronze finish of the frames ties to the color of the table.

4. The delicate porcelain flowers of the Lily pendant by Corbett Lighting play to the wife’s feminine style, while its orb-like shape stabilizes the eye in the center of the space. “A chandelier with arms would have been overwhelming,” Anderson says.

5. Woven wood shades refer to the coastal casual vibe in the rest of the house, and won’t interfere with drapes if the couple decides to add them later. Anderson notes, “They match the trim and almost disappear, but have some texture.”


6. Anderson discovered the walnut table in the design firm’s inventory. Its clean lines help simplify the room. As for the side chairs, the gray wash finish and neutral twill upholstery make them a versatile choice that work elsewhere when needed.

Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.