Cactuses clamber above pillows, bright birds strut their plumage and azures dance in geometric patterns on the walls of designer Maureen Stevens’ projects. Whatever the style and function of the space, at least one wall is clad in vibrant patterned wallpaper. We spoke with Stevens, on how she adds panache to her projects with wallpaper for her eponymous design firm in Austin, Texas. 

Why wallpaper?
I call myself a maximalist minimalist. I think you have to experiment and push limits a little. I like to add something that draws the eye to the space, something a bit unexpected. And wallpaper is the easiest way to make a space bold and different. 

How do you integrate wallpaper in any aesthetic?
It’s about the architecture, the space, the elements we want to highlight. For one client, I chose a wallpaper that was like a view to their dream outdoors, with banana trees and birds of paradise and a tropical feel.

How do you layer in furnishings?
It depends on the project. If I have a busy wallpaper, I may have a couch in an ornate shape but it will have a solid fabric, then I’ll add a pattern in pillows. 

Tell us about your selection process.
I rely a lot on descriptors clients tell me and what the clients are like. Like for this bathroom, the client wanted it to look like a glamorous hotel bathroom with brass fixtures. And she’s super fun, well-traveled and dresses well. So I picked this geometric-on-geometric style.

Why cactuses in this bedroom?
The clients wanted a real Austin vibe: laid back, colorful and cheerful. And there are a lot of cactuses in Texas. We had a lot of fun with that one. 

What’s your favorite wallpaper?
I’m into the flowers look with a Victorian feel. I want to use a pink viny thing in my own house; it’s just a matter of getting my husband on board with it.