NLXL Wallpaper: The Guide
“If you put a very ugly sofa in front of a beautiful wall, the sofa will look 10 times better. If you have a beautiful sofa with a terrible wall, forget it.”
NLXL caused a stir in the world of wallpaper design when they launched their now iconic “Scrapwood” wallpaper. Featuring intricate details that reproduced each texture and nook of recycled wood, the collaboration with Piet Hein Eek became an immediate international success. It turned out to be the trailblazer for a line of unique wallpaper collections so rich in detail that they feel three-dimensional, tactile and deceptively real. The secret behind NLXL photorealistic wall décor is the supreme quality and accuracy of their prints, which allow the label to create models that provide a valid alternative for many interior design concepts, for instance a bricked wall or a granite slab surface, that would normally not be achieved with ease.
Table of Contents
- What is the original story of the NLXL label?
- Who are the designers behind NLXL wallpaper creations?
- What is the design philosophy that drives NLXL?
- Which are the most celebrated and iconic NLXL wallpaper models?
- Which rooms are most suitable for NLXL wall décor?
- Are NLXL wallpapers easy to install?
- Can I install an NLXL wallpaper in the bathroom?
Sometimes all it takes is a quirky design idea to start a new business. As for NLXL, a plan to find a unique way to decorate their beach house turned into a worldwide design label.
The creative couple behind the label
NLXL is the brainchild of the dynamic Dutch couple Rick Vintage and Esther Vlak, currently the creative director and the president of the company. Based in the medieval city of The Hague, where Rick designed their eclectic modern home, they both worked in their own design studio for 20 years before deciding it was time for something new.
A decorating project turns into a business idea
While looking for their next business venture, Rick and Esther started decorating their small beach house. As Esther wanted scrap wood planks to decorate the walls, they bought some, but realising that arranging them on the wall wouldn’t be without challenges, Rick decided to take photos instead in order to print some wallpaper. When they saw the prints, they were impressed with the details in the images. They soon realised that the final product would have a huge impact on the wallpaper scene and as a result, NLXL was founded in 2010.
The launch of NLXL Lab
In 2014, they decided to expand the brand by creating NLXL Lab with the aim to launch products outside of NLXL’s traditional collections. The Lab was originally designed to be an online-exclusive brand, selling via just a few retailers. Realising that there was growing demand by their established customer base, Rick and Esther decided to move the NLXL Lab to the brand’s worldwide retailer base.
NLXL’s approach to wallpaper design is to collaborate with a different and innovative designer for each of their collections. Amongst the most renowned artists working with NLXL are Piet Hein Eek, Paola Navone, Piet Boon and Merci.
Piet Hein Eek
A distinguished Dutch designer, Piet has been a pioneer in using recycled and found materials to create complex furniture items, promoting a sustainable and ecological design practice. His talents lie in elevating ordinary materials that are often overlooked and discarded, transforming them into desirable design objects. It’s his love for exposed and untreated scrap wood that led to the creation of his iconic wallpaper.
Having studied in Turin to become an architect, Paola moved to Milan to pursue her goal of a career as a designer. An eclectic woman of many talents, over the years she has left her mark as an interior designer of houses, restaurants, boutiques as well as exhibition organiser, collaborating with celebrated brands including Swarovski, Alessi and Habitat. Her wallpaper designs pay homage to her love for the powerful beauty of the colour blue.
Founder of the famous studio that carries his name, Piet Boon started his career designing tailor-made homes in a small village near Amsterdam before expanding into a globally operating design establishment. Piet’s work redefines the Urban Classic interior design concept, which is reflected in his sophisticated furniture and product designs - a popular choice for industrial look interiors all over the world.
Merci is an independent concept boutique in Paris, spreading over three open-plan floors and offering a tempting melange of vintage and new clothes, accessories and home goods from many talented international designers. The wallpaper NLXL created for the opening caused a stir, with customers lining up to take pictures and inquiring whether and where it was available to buy. The result was the iconic collaboration between Merci and NLXL.
NLXL philosophy can be summarised in the words of its founder: “I see a wall as a billboard. If you are going to put something on it, you better make sure it’s bloody good.” A unique approach to pattern design, using photorealistic images to create a Shabby Chic aesthetic, is the trademark of the brand.
Unique patterns without repeating elements
The most distinctive feature that makes NLXL wallpapers truly unique is that, unlike most other wall décor on the market, they have a no-repeat pattern. This helps to create the illusion that the material it reproduces, be it scrap wood or concrete, is an organic whole and not a series of lengths of wallpaper. As a further benefit, it also means that the entire roll can be used.
A passion for Shabby Chic aesthetics
NLXL wallpaper designers focus on how the passage of time and the wear and tear caused by the elements give a unique identity to materials - perfect for the Shabby Chic aesthetic. In interior design concepts, this look uses different elements of furniture, for instance from the Victorian era, with a pre-used look, creating environments that feel lived-in rather than sterile.
Material and textures that feel real
True pioneers of digitally printed wallpapers, NLXL have mastered the innovative art of premium-quality photographic reproductions of materials that preserve all the textures and characteristics of the original, producing unique models that feel authentic and real. Thanks to these techniques, it is possible to create a striking trompe l'oeil effect, i.e. looking like three-dimensional images but on a flat surface.
NLXL is behind some of the most famous and iconic contemporary wallpaper models in the current interior design scene. Collections like Scrapwood, Concrete or Brooklyn Tins can be found in countless public and private locations all over the globe.
Piet Hein Eek is the founder of a world- famous Dutch furniture design atelier. “Scrapwood” was his first wallpaper collection for NLXL and quickly became a sensation in the world of interior design. Known in the design world for his use of reclaimed materials, Piet revolutionised the furniture world by using recycled wood for mass production. Its success became the inspiration for this wallpaper which shows how real beauty is to be found in nature’s imperfections.
Piet Boon’s most iconic creation for NLXL, the “Concrete” collection is a testament to his love for this utilitarian material and its sober and subdued character. His realistic wall décor gives natural structure to a room and displays the material in its glorious multitude of facets, unafraid to show the wear and tear of age and the effects of the passage of time. A further benefit is that minor damages don’t show - they simply disappear naturally into the ‘structure’.
This celebrated wallpaper was originally designed for the opening of the MERCI concept store which opened in March 2009 in the arty Parisian neighbourhood of Haut Marais. A collection of enamel tiles and tins, introduced to North America as an affordable alternative to the expensive plasterwork used in Europe, their irregular and aged look gives it a distinctive and unique appeal.
Thanks to their unique ability to create a very specific yet understated vibe, depending on the material they reproduce, NLXL wall décor models are suitable for most rooms, but living rooms, work spaces and kitchens are always a perfect choice for creating stylish interiors.
Impactful living rooms
There is no better way to add character to the living room and fill it with a unique atmosphere that reflects your sense of style than picking a bold and impactful graphic pattern for a feature wall. Depending on the NLXL wallpaper model chosen, the most social of all areas in the house can be transformed into a relaxed Shabby Chic room or an edgy industrial look space that conveys modernity and coolness.
Loft-style office spaces
If you plan to recreate the celebrated New York loft style either in your workspace at home or the office, there is no better place to start than with photorealistic graphic wall décor by NLXL, depicting deceptively real concrete or other weathered surfaces. Combining it with matching second-hand office furniture will create the perfect urban working space.
Kitchens with urban flair
As the hub of domestic life, kitchen design tends to be a little too utilitarian, with a focus on modern and sleek furniture and appliances that often appear sterile and lack personality. Adding a graphic NLXL wallpaper to one of the walls, for example “Concrete” or “Brooklyn Tins”, provides a dramatic and urban backdrop that oozes character and sets the mood for convivial meals with the family.
The impact that hallways and entryways have on the way a house is perceived is often underestimated. After all, they are the first area visitors see, and it is important that they reflect our sense of style and aesthetics. A powerful NLXL wallpaper with a bold graphic pattern will make a strong first impression as soon as someone enters your home, setting the tone for the rest of the house.
To make sure that installing their wall décor can be done without special DIY skills, all NLXL wallpapers come with a carrier material which is easy to put up.
Non-woven material makes it easy to install and remove
Unlike traditional paper-based wall décor which requires that each length is placed on the trestle table and soaked in wallpaper paste for a specific and precise amount of time, all NLXL models have a carrier layer made of non-woven material. This means that they don’t need any soaking time and each sheet can be easily put up dry on a pasted wall. And when the time comes to replace it, the wallpaper can simply be pulled off the wall with little effort.
In principle there is no reason why you shouldn’t make use of the beauty of an NLXL wallpaper to create an impactful and stylish atmosphere in your bathroom. However, some extra care should be taken to make sure it will remain in its best condition for a long time.
Adding a waterproofing layer is recommended
NLXL non-woven wallpapers are robust and able to withstand normal wear and tear. However, wet rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens pose an extra challenge as the humidity can penetrate the wallpaper surface - and mould night be the result. To avoid this, it is recommended that the wallpaper surface is coated with a protective layer of a vinyl finish to create a waterproof seal that will help keep the moisture out. Furthermore, this layer will make it easier to scrub and clean the wallpaper.