Life Home & Garden

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Roll up, roll up: Is wallpaper back in fashion?

Think wallpaper's too daunting or outdated? Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to get on board with one of decor's boldest shifts.

Wallpaper can transform a room
Wallpaper can transform a room

Gabrielle Fagan

Be honest, are you weird about wallpaper? Relax - you're not alone if you resort to safe, old emulsion.

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.

There's even a growing trend for papering the fifth wall - the ceiling. Sure it may be a tad difficult to execute but papering your ceiling can make a box room look bigger.

"Putting wallpaper on the 'fifth wall' can make a room appear larger and brighter, but it also adds a surprising focal point," Nina Tarnowski, founder and designer of UK based specialist wallpaper company, Woodchip & Magnolia 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."

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.

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, "Exotic wallpaper designs, which bring in pattern and colour, are giving rooms that punch."

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.

"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 (

"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.

"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'.

PA Media

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