15th Aug 19 | Lifestyle
Think wallpaper’s too daunting or outdated? Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to get on board with one of decor’s boldest shifts.
Be honest, are you weird about wallpaper? Relax – you’re not alone if you resort to safe, old emulsion, rather than delving into a world of exciting pattern, colour and dazzling designs.
You may find the prospect too scary, demanding or the choice bewildering – but truly, it’s time to wake up from your decor slumber and embrace the future. Because, like it or not, wallpaper is the way to go.
Walls are being wickedly transformed by designers, who can literally create any pattern or image to suit your taste and fulfil your visual dreams. There’s even a growing trend for papering the fifth wall – the ceiling!
Don’t hang around. Let wallpaper transport you to a jungle or country garden; embrace stately home-style panelling, industrial, pared-back ‘brick’ walls or chic chintz patterns (yes, twee flowers are back in fashion), or even plunder the work of the great artists at the National Gallery.
One design house, Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk), is reproducing famous paintings from the famous gallery, so they can grace the walls in your home.
“This is the year to fill your home with bold prints and pattern – and wall coverings are the perfect way to get maximum impact,” enthuses Nina Tarnowski, founder and designer of Lancashire-based specialist wallpaper company, Woodchip & Magnolia (woodchipandmagnolia.co.uk).
“There’s no need to be intimidated because there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what looks good. Individuality is key to adding your own personality to the home. If you follow your instinct and go with what you love, your home will never look better.”
Papering the ceiling proves being adventurous and abandoning convention can pay dividends, she points out. “Putting wallpaper on the ‘fifth wall’ can make a room appear larger and brighter, but it also adds a surprising focal point,” she says.
“Test it out in a spare bedroom or small room to see just what an impact it can have on your decor. You’ll be amazed – honestly, these days, the sky’s the limit for experimenting and playing with wallpapers and murals.”
Follow these six easy steps to waking up your walls…
1. Don’t just follow the trends or the pack
“Your home is an extension of your personality and should reflect that. No two people are the same, so why should their homes be?” declares Tarnowski.
“Find wallpaper that speaks to you and make sure it’s something that you fall in love with. Don’t settle for decor that ticks the box on a trend but does nothing for your soul.”
2. What’s hot?
Patterns and images which are eye-catching and make a statement are becoming hugely popular, says Tarnowski.
“As a designer, working digitally lets me explore colour and scale in ways never before possible. I used to design traditional analogue wallpapers working within a set repeat. I now feel free, ” she says.
“The digital age has enabled wallpapers to be designed in new and creative ways, and the results are spectacular. It’s a really exciting time to be in the industry, with new designs coming out everyday.”
3. Bag a high-street bargain
High-street lifestyle and fashion brand, Accessorize, has launched its first range of wallpaper, with 13 designs including florals, wild prints, metallics and texture, all at £30 a roll. My favourite for adding texture is the Camden White brick. Check it out at WallpaperDirect.com.
4. Step into the jungle
One way to escape our unpredictable weather is to change your indoor landscape. Put away the passport and simply replicate a hot, steamy jungle (wildlife optional) and key into one of the strongest trends in decor.
“The jungle trend has been around for a while now so we’re seeing a lot more people being more adventurous and playful with it to keep it alive and fresh,” says Rachel Kenny, head of the studio team, Wallsauce.com. “Exotic wallpaper designs, which bring in pattern and colour, are giving rooms that punch with show-stopping feature walls.”
Another mural in its range features a more delicate colour palette and design but has a similar faraway feel: The Birds Voyage of Discovery Wallpaper Mural, from £32 per square metre, Wallsauce.
5. Trick the eye
“Wallpaper just keeps rolling, and whatever your taste, there is something for everyone,” promises David Harris, design director at innovative and cult interiors destination, Andrew Martin.
“From traditional florals and trompe l’oeil, to contemporary geometric and tropical patterns, or animal motifs and architectural designs, it’s a world of endless possibilities.”
Wondering how to best style your wallpaper? “Ideally, pair a large-scale patterned wallpaper with a plain rug, and add in cushions with smaller-scale patterns,” Harris advises. “Instead of using matching colours, opt for shades that complement one another, to create a sense of cohesiveness.”
For those who are more wallpaper-wise and using two different contrasting patterns, he recommends limiting the palette to two or three shades to avoid overwhelming a room.
“Balance large-scale patterns with smaller-scale prints, and keep some areas devoid of pattern altogether,” he summarises.
If you’re still nervous about wading into wallpaper, Harris suggests turning your attention to the – often neglected – smallest room in the home.
“If there is one room in the house where you can afford to have lots of decorating fun, it’s probably the downstairs loo,” he says. “Why not make this a fun and interesting place of contemplation? Anything goes wallpaper wise; bright colours, geometrics, florals, stripes, books, animals and maps.
“Finish by adorning the poshly-papered walls with your favourite pictures, photography, mirrors and collectables to add extra depth, texture and light.”
6. Make a splash
“Wallpaper’s a quick and affordable update for a bathroom – far cheaper than tiles and easier to change,” points out Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I Want Wallpaper (iwantwallpaper.co.uk).
“The damp and steamy atmosphere needn’t be a problem if you use the right paper, and that doesn’t need to limit your choice. From glamorous metallics to faux tiles and tropical jungles, there are some stunning papers around.
“When applied correctly, modern wallpapers can stay strong for years,” Whitecroft adds. “A top tip is to apply a coat of Decorator’s Varnish over the top to seal and make the surface moisture-resistant.”
Feature walls, she suggests, work brilliantly in this room, and fashionable mosaic, slate and marble tile effects can be recreated at a fraction of the cost.
They can also be a way to enlarge the space, she says, as a patterned paper can help create the illusion of more room in a compact bathroom; murals or large-scale patterns can work well.
Finally, Whitecroft concludes, source the appropriate type of papers, which should have a hard-wearing vinyl finish. For instance, some are marked ‘scrubbable’ or ‘highly scrubbable’.
© Press Association 2019