Want to conjure up the home of your dreams? Gabrielle Fagan finds it's simple to fake those sought-after settings
Cheating is frowned on in most walks of life but in decor, these days, it's a badge of style.
Savvy homeowners are making their interior dreams reality by using the latest tricks of the trade.
A new breed of digital wallpapers can replicate any effect from stately home style, through to stripped brickwork, wood panels, edgy urban breeze blocks, or penthouse cityscape views.
Whether you term it cheating or 'faking it' this trend is fast becoming one of the most popular and affordable ways to transform homes.
"People are prepared to take a theatrical approach to rooms these days and they want drama and impact and a 'wow' factor" says Debbie McKeegan who with her husband founded the hugely successful Digetex, which specialises in digitally printed papers and fabrics.
"Most of us don't have the budget to afford the homes we admire in the glossy interiors magazines but, by using our walls as a backdrop, we can conjure the perfect setting no matter what our postcode.
"Papers featuring period-style plaster work designs have undoubtedly been hugely boosted in popularity by TV's Downton Abbey, while Scandinavian dramas help increase the demand for the pared-back effect, white-washed-boards or driftwood designs.
"Georgian brickwork remains the out-and-out favourite as it's so characteristic of uber-chic lofts. It has a natural rustic look and brings instant colour, warmth and texture to a room."
McKeegan predicts ever more dramatic effects will find favour this year as trompe l'oeil - a 3D art effect - features in ranges.
She's created a new Decor collection of wallpapers in this style. The collection includes Pompeii, replicating Greek pillars, and a Florence panel depicting a decorative carved plaster panel of an Italian mansion.
Here, the experts give their guidance on cheating your way to chic decor.
GRANDEUR TO GRUNGE
If you want to be the chatelaine of a grand house, imitate 'street' style with breeze blocks or subway decor, or go folksy with a log cabin look, there's a paper or mural to suit.
Delusions of grandeur are totally catered for at new interiors company, Mineheart, which includes Palace wallpaper inspired by the opulent interiors of stately homes and palaces of the 18th century.
It features an image of a large hall adorned with beautiful paintings and chandeliers and costs £56 per square metre.
"It gives the illusion of a vast room and the feeling of space and elegance it brings to an interior is proving hugely popular," says Vanessa Battaglia at Mineheart.
Rustic enthusiasts could mimic a wooden cabin effect with a Forest Feel Knock On Wood wall mural by Mr Perswall, £248, John Lewis.
Alternatively, wallpaper designer Deborah Bowness keys into a utility vibe with a Tiles F paper, £60 a panel, available to order. The plain tiles look as though all they lack is graffiti.
If life's too short to collect books over the years, let alone read them, a private library or book-lined study can be conjured in an instant with wallpaper.
"There are so many ways to achieve both a classic or contemporary look by choosing from a number of design cheats. Library designs on wallpaper are an elegant way to do that," says Andrew Waller, founder and chairman of interiors specialists Andrew Martin.
"These themed papers are a fantastic way to transform both the look and feel of any room, and at a fraction of the cost that it would be to truly install that style in your home."
Library wallpaper, £119.90 a roll, one of the collection at Andrew Martin.
Wallpapers and murals aren't the only way of working wonders on walls, says Annie Sloan, paint specialist and author of Color Recipes For Painted Furniture.
At her home in France she's used techniques such as stencilling, gilding, and sponging, to create a host of visual effects in her favourite decorating styles, from Swedish and Country to French and contemporary.
"Faking it is totally cool," she says. "I think people are much more visually minded these days and prepared to experiment in their homes.
"There's a huge enthusiasm for putting a personal stamp on our homes these days and, at a time when budgets are tight, the way to do that is by being creative.
"That can be using paint techniques to add interest, texture, or another dimension. I've created faux marble effects and distressed vintage looks and Scandinavian panelled walls. The only limit is the imagination."
Art enthusiasts who've gazed longingly at the old masters hung in public art galleries can now have lookalikes of those paintings, and bespoke art work, for their own homes.
"Right now people want to feel that their home has a real sense of authenticity and personality, but it has to be achieved on a budget," says Alison Cork interiors expert and founder of AlisonatHome.
"I look to the web to source good value art work - companies like Top of Art can reproduce virtually any oil painting you wish, and at a fraction of what you might pay in an art gallery. I had two classic Dutch still-life paintings reproduced at a cost of only a few hundred pounds."
Reproducing favourite pictures or photos on fabric, canvas and wallpaper is another way of expressing your personal style, she suggests. "It's a cost-effective way to create a dramatic and unique focal point."
Hand Painted Oil Painting Reproductions of Old Masters, Canvas Art Prints are part of the repertoire at www.topofart.com
Alternatively, make an instant photo gallery by choosing a Picture Frame paper, £70 a roll, Mineheart. It features a selection of old photos in white frames, hanging on a concrete wall. DigetexHome will replicate photos or pictures on to fabric, canvas and wallpaper.
Alison At Home: www.alisonathome.com
Deborah Bowness: www.deborahbowness.com
Decor Wallpaper: www.decorwallpaper.com
Digetex Home: www.digetexhome.com
John Lewis: www.johnlewis.com
Andrew Martin: www.andrewmartin.co.uk
Top Of Art: www.topofart.com
Colour Recipes For Painted Furniture And More by Annie Sloan is published by CICO Books, priced £14.99. Available March 14.
Readers can buy it for the special price of £12.99 (including p&p) by calling 01256 302 699 and quoting GLR 8BJ. Visit www.cicobooks.co.uk