Grasscloth wallpaper offers an understated, natural texture that can add warmth and intimacy to any room. With its subtle, organic patterns and muted color palette, grasscloth brings a relaxed yet refined look to both traditional and contemporary spaces. As grasscloth gains popularity for residential interiors, this guide covers everything you need to know about using this natural material in your home.
An Introduction to Grasscloth
Grasscloth, also known as grass paper or rice paper, is a type of wallcovering made from natural fiber grasses native to Asia. To create grasscloth, grasses like banana fiber, rice straw, or bamboo are woven together in a random pattern with visible knots and imperfections that give each roll of grasscloth its unique natural texture.
The grass fibers can be dyed or left natural, resulting in a range of muted, neutral hues like beiges, greys, and soft greens that add a subtle, organic look. When used as wallpaper or paneling, the varying thick and thin areas in the grasscloth weave add dimensional texture and interest to walls.
Unlike vinyl or other synthetic wallpapers, grasscloth is eco-friendly and breathable. The natural fiber construction allows humidity and moisture to pass through, avoiding problems like mildew or trapped moisture. Many people also find the soft, organic look and feel of grasscloth to be soothing and calming.
Benefits of Using Grasscloth in the Home
Using grasscloth wall treatments offers many benefits that make it a popular wallcovering choice:
Natural, Eco-Friendly Material
As a fiber product made from renewable grasses, grasscloth is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly than vinyl and other synthetic wallcovering options that use plastics. Grasscloth is also compostable at the end of its lifespan.
Unique, Organic Look
With its knots, uneven textures, and variations in color, every roll of grasscloth has an organic, one-of-a-kind look that synthetic materials cannot replicate. Grasscloth brings natural beauty into the home.
Breathable and Moisture-Wicking
Unlike many wallcoverings, grasscloth allows air, moisture and humidity to pass through, reducing problems with mold or mildew. This makes it ideal for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and basements.
Soft Surface Texture
Grasscloth has a softly uneven, nubby texture when used on walls that adds natural visual interest and dimension. The texture also helps absorb sound, adding acoustic benefits.
Durable and Long-Lasting
Though delicate in appearance, grasscloth is quite durable. Premium grasscloths can last 15 years or longer with proper installation and care. It is also colorfast when dyed with natural pigments.
Warm, Relaxing Look
With its neutral colors and organic texture, grasscloth evokes a warm, relaxed look and feel. The natural appeal makes it ideal for creating cozy, informal spaces.
Decor Styles to Use Grasscloth In
From traditional to modern and everything in between, grasscloth suits a wide range of home décor aesthetics:
With its references to historical Asian aesthetics, grasscloth is ideal for adding warmth and texture to traditional decor. Use it to accent classic paneled walls, vintage furniture and antiques. Avoid fussy florals and ornate trim.
Grasscloth’s organic look naturally complements rustic aesthetics. Use it in cozy cabins or farmhouse style rooms paired with distressed woods, antique rugs and textural linens. Let the wood grains and knits take center stage.
For a balance of traditional and contemporary, grasscloth creates an inviting transitional feel. Coordinate with warm neutrals, tailored fabrics and a mix of vintage and modern furnishings.
Grasscloth can soften sleek, modern spaces in an unexpected way. Pair with bright whites, natural woods and clean-lined furniture. Rely on grasscloth to provide texture instead of knickknacks.
To complement free-spirited bohemian decor, choose grasscloth in natural, undyed hues. Mix with lace, exotic patterns, collected treasures and plants for an earthy, lived-in vibe.
Given its moisture-wicking abilities, grasscloth is perfect in humid bathrooms. Use on walls or as wainscoting paired with marble, wood or concrete finishes for a spa-like oasis.
Ideal Rooms to Use Grasscloth
While suitable for any room, grasscloth lends itself particularly well to certain spaces:
The warm, welcoming aesthetic makes grasscloth ideal for restful bedrooms. Use on accent walls or go bold with grasscloth on all four walls for a cocooning effect. Add texture with layered rugs and textiles.
In formal dining rooms, grasscloth adds casual elegance. Complement with carved woods, chandeliers and classic furnishings accented with fresh flowers and candles.
Surrounding yourself with grasscloth’s organic motifs inspires creativity and focus. Pair with leather furnishings, shelves of books and curiosities, and a stately desk.
Make an entrance with grasscloth walls in a foyer, hall or stairway. The soothing first impression conveys simple sophistication to guests before they enter main living spaces.
Given grasscloth’s moisture-resistance, it’s the perfect natural material for spa-like bathrooms. Use on vanity walls or in the shower paired with marble and wood.
For a convivial kitchen, soften the hard surfaces with grasscloth on the ceiling or one wall. Contrast its texture with butcher block islands, stainless steel and glass backsplashes.
Best Wall Spaces to Grasscloth
While grasscloth can cover entire rooms, using it strategically in select spaces allows it to make a big textural impact. Ideal wall spaces include:
Accent or Focal Walls
Use grasscloth on just one accent wall, positioned behind seating areas, beds or dining tables so it draws the eye. Paint or wallpaper the remaining walls in a coordinating neutral.
Install grasscloth from floor to chair rail height, or about 30-40” high. Paint the upper walls or finish with wallpaper. This traditional treatment adds natural interest below eye level.
Grasscloth on a ceiling makes a stunning, unexpected statement. For a cohesive but defined look, finish walls in a contrasting color like white or black.
In kitchens or bathrooms, apply grasscloth as a backsplash alternative to tile. Use water-resistant adhesive and seal with polyurethane for moisture protection.
Lining the interiors of glass-front cabinetry, open shelves or display cases creates a beautiful framed vignette. Place treasures and collected items on top of the soft grasscloth backdrop.
For visual depth, adhere grasscloth to door inserts. Finish framing with matching wood trim stained in a contrasting tone. Repeat grasscloth patterns on nearby walls.
Choosing the Right Grasscloth
With so many grasscloth options available, keep the following factors in mind when selecting a product:
Common fibers used include banana silk, bamboo, sea grass and rice straw. Research the properties and origins to choose responsibly sourced fibers. Banana silk and bamboo are particularly durable.
Finer grasses have a smooth, uniform texture while fibers like bamboo have a very striated, reedy look. Evaluate the scale of texture you want relative to room size and furnishings.
Select a grasscloth hue that complements your color scheme. Stick to subtle neutrals or choose dyed colors like mineral blue that still appear natural. Undyed grasscloth in soft beiges and greens provides versatility.
Assess wear and tear. Densely woven banana silk grasscloth is very resilient for high traffic areas. Box-pressed bamboo is quite durable but has a reedier texture.
Research companies that use responsibly grown renewable fibers and natural dyes. Many manufacturers offer information on sourcing and processes.
vertical vs. horizontal motif
Choose grasscloth woven with either vertical or horizontal grain direction depending on the visual flow you prefer. Work it into the room’s layout.
How to Successfully Install Grasscloth
Careful installation is key to getting flawless grasscloth results:
Hire a Professional
Due to the intricate textile construction, it’s highly advisable to hire an experienced professional unless you are very skilled at intricate wallpaper installation.
Prior to installation, confirm measurements and layout to determine how many rolls you need. Plan ahead since additional grasscloth may take time to acquire.
Prepare the Surface
The wall surface must be smooth, clean and dry so adhesive adheres properly. Remove any gloss or debris that could show through the thin grasscloth.
Use a heavy duty, strippable grasscloth adhesive made specifically for natural fibers. Achieve full coverage by applying with paint roller and brush.
To match the patterns, plot out the cuts precisely and use sharp blades. Overlap edges slightly before trimming for seamless joints.
Smooth on grasscloth carefully, removing any trapped air pockets and securing edges. Don’t allow adhesive to dry before applying paper.
Seal Upon Completion
Once installed, use a soft brush to apply two coats of wallpaper sealing product. Avoid getting liquid between seams. Allow drying completely.
Maintaining and Cleaning Grasscloth
While durable, grasscloth requires some simple maintenance methods to stay looking fresh:
- Carefully dust using a feather duster or specialized wallpaper duster weekly to remove surface dirt.
- To spot clean stains or marks, gently blot with a barely damp, lint-free cloth and mild detergent. Test cleaners first and do not oversaturate.
- Avoid rubbing or applying excess pressure during cleaning to prevent damaging the fibers or loosening the grasscloth.
- Steer clear of oil-based cleaners, alcohol and abrasive scrubbing pads which can stain or mar the material.
- Every few years, apply a fresh coat of protective wallpaper sealant. Ensure the grasscloth is fully cleaned first.
Decorating with Grasscloth: Design Ideas
Incorporating grasscloth effectively into your space requires thoughtful coordination with colors, textures and furnishings. Consider these designer tips:
To create depth, layer grasscloth with contrasting textures like raw woods, linen, nubby carpets, leather and velvet. Varying tactile elements brings spaces to life.
Add Warm Metallics
Brass, copper and other metallics resonate beautifully with grasscloth’s natural hues. Incorporate through lighting, hardware, decorative accents and vintage furnishings.
Repeat Natural Tones
Pull out grasscloth’s soft neutrals into surrounding furnishings and fabrics. Use variations of beige, cream and pale greens to craft a soothing, monochromatic look.
Highlight With Colorful Accents
Pops of color in pillows, throws, artwork and florals give grasscloth visual interest. Opt for rich hues like ruby, navy and emerald that contrast softly with the subtle backdrop.
Incorporate Natural Materials
Surround grasscloth will other organic and raw materials to accentuate its texture. Think wood furniture, sisal rugs, linen drapery, wool blankets and ceramic/stone objects.
Use a mix of well-placed lighting sources to highlight grasscloth’s tactile appeal. Try ambient recessed lights, table lamps and sconces on dimmers.
Minimize Visual Clutter
Allow grasscloth’s intricate patterns to shine by keeping surrounding surfaces clean-lined and decluttered. Avoid overly ornate furniture and loud wall hangings.
Achieving Different Grasscloth Looks
By adjusting accompanying elements like color, lighting and styling, grasscloth can transform to suit many different moods:
For casual intimacy, pair faded denim blues and olive greens with undyed grasscloth. Use in a TV room with slipcovered sofas, worn woods and houseplants. Rely on curtains to soften sunlight.
Cool greys and blues give grasscloth modern edge. Accent with sleek mid-century chairs, architectural lighting, and abstract art. Add mirrored accents to reflect and enlarge the space.
Keep things light and airy with grasscloth in soft naturals. Mix in whitewashed furniture, airy linens, wicker and flowers. Use primarily natural illumination from ample windows.
Amp up grasscloth’s coziness with rich hues and dramatic lighting. Try eggplant purple or deep green grasscloth with dark wood, velvet and leather. Use dimmers and plenty of candlelight.
For an artsy mix, combine grasscloth with tapestries, collected art, and exotic accessories from different eras. Choose a vibrant grasscloth color as your jumping-off point.
Getting the Full Grasscloth Effect
To make sure grasscloth takes center stage:
- Remove competing background noise like loud wall art or busy patterns. Let the grasscloth make the statement.
- Highlight it with strategic lighting. Illuminate grasscloth focal points and allow some sections to fall in shadow.
- Furnish minimally and give grasscloth breathing room. Avoid clutter than distracts and diminishes its impact.
- Carefully clean and touch up grasscloth regularly so it maintains its visual presence. Address damage or stains quickly.
- Consider grasscloth in adjoining spaces like hallways or the ceiling above to carry the effect throughout the home.
Common Grasscloth Concerns
Despite its many advantages, grasscloth does come with a few considerations:
The woven nature and handmade variations make grasscloth susceptible to damage if mishandled, overlapped at seams or improperly cleaned. Handle with care.
Grasscloth will show creases and wrinkles as part of its irregular texture. Some wrinkling may also occur naturally with shifting temperature and humidity.
New grasscloth may have a musty natural fiber smell at first. Odors dissipate with ventilation and time as materials off-gas.
Depending on the density and fiber type, grasscloth can appear slightly translucent on walls. Address with proper backing or lining material.
As a specialty artisanal product made in small batches, grasscloth typically costs more than standard wallpaper. But it offers a unique high-end look.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about incorporating this beautiful natural wallcovering:
Is grasscloth durable?
Top quality grasscloth made from fibers like tightly woven banana silk can last up to 15 years or longer before needing replacement. Avoid excess moisture and handle gently.
Does grasscloth have formaldehyde?
Reputable brands use natural, toxin-free fibers, adhesives and dyes. Check manufacturer information and opt for formaldehyde-free grasscloth. New grasscloth may have minor off-gassing.
Can you paint over grasscloth?
Yes, grasscloth can be painted. Use an oil-based primer meant for wallpaper first. Expect some grain and texture to remain visible afterwards. Grasscloth is harder to remove than typical wallpaper.
Is grasscloth water resistant?
The natural fibers allow more breathability and moisture passage than vinyls. But constant exposure to excessive moisture can damage grasscloth over time. Quick wiping is fine but avoid saturating the material.
Does grasscloth stain easily?
Grasscloth is prone to some staining given the porous natural fibers. Prevent stains by sealing upon installation. Spot clean spills quickly with a very mild detergent. Oils may leave permanent stains.
Can you install grasscloth yourself?
For novice DIYers, intricate grasscloth is very challenging to install alone without specialized tools and experience. Enlist a professional installer for best, wrinkle-free results unless highly experienced with delicate wallcoverings.
The Takeaway on Grasscloth
With its textural depth yet understated neutral palette, grasscloth infuses spaces with natural comfort and casual elegance. By thoughtfully incorporating grasscloth into your aesthetic vision, you can create interiors that feel intimate yet polished. Allow this artisanal material to showcase its unique organic beauty. When handled with care, lush grasscloth will enhance your rooms for years to come.