Want to breathe new life and energy into your home? Wallpaper is a quick way to make a big difference to your decor, and might just cheer you up, too.
Sales of wallpaper have seen a healthy uptick over the last year, and gone are the days of people trying to retain a neutral palette. Lockdowns have encouraged us to be bolder and more original.
‘What we’re seeing is people being more true to themselves,’ says Fi Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio, Bluebellgray (bluebellgray.com). ‘It used to be all about property and selling, whereas now it’s about people embracing the home they have.’
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The idea of wallpaper might call to mind 1980s wall-to-wall Laura Ashley chintz. And while there’s a time and a place for florals, wallpaper is no longer the wallflower it once was.
From maximalist prints to soft wallpapers that add texture and depth, there’s a wallpaper style for everyone.
Make a statement
Maximalist wallpaper is enjoying a revival; grand-scale prints adorn walls like a piece of art. And there is a huge array of wallpaper producers making these bold prints.
Traditional printers such as Lola Design, Sanderson and Morris & Co (sanderson designgroup.com) produce rich colours, dazzling geometric patterns and beautiful botanical designs, while trained artists have become the new wave of wallpaper manufacturers, turning their skills to work on a much bigger scale.
‘Bold, patterned wallpaper is a quick way to update a space; you can have a dramatically different room quickly and easily,’ says one such artist, Lucy Tiffney (lucytiffney.shop).
Tiffney was a finalist in BBC2’s Great Interior Design Challenge in 2016, and has since set up her own design studio.
Her wallpapers are a gorgeous riot of colour. ‘My inspiration comes from everywhere; a lot of it is botantical and from the natural world.’
Bluebellgray is another studio. Its papers are inspired by nature, both in abstract and more realistic depictions.
‘All my wallpapers start life as a painting and you can see that in the wallpaper,’ says owner Fi Douglas.
Go big and live a little
Sold on going for a bold print, but unsure how to make it work? Lucy Tiffney encourages her clients to embrace bold prints on one wall rather than a whole room.
‘One customer used my Penang wallpaper on a huge feature wall. Because the wall was so big the wallpaper actually looked almost like a texture.’
‘I love a wallpapered ceiling,’ says interior designer Katie Knight, director of interior design firm Katie Elizabeth Design (katie elizabethdesign.com). ‘It can make the room still feel simple and sophisticated at eye level, but have a party on the ceiling.
‘I also love to use a bold wallpaper in more hidden places that surprise and add a fun element, such as on the back of bookshelves and dressers, or inside cupboards.’
Complementary furnishings can help showcase your wallpaper.
‘I recommend using wallpaper as a feature wall, but then make other elements of the room calmer,’ says Fi Douglas. ‘If you’ve got the palette, which starts with the wallpaper, pull other colours from it.
‘If you do that then everything else will feel coherent.’
If maximalism is not for you, a minimalist print might appeal. A subtle wallpaper with texture adds depth and interest to a room, creating shadow and warmth that you can’t get from paint.
‘If a wallpaper is a subtle colour, it’s all about textures. This adds depth to a room,’ says Emily Holder, co-founder and director at Wells and Maguire (wellsandmaguire.com).
Layering textures and colours on other items will set off a minimalist wallpaper.
‘Wallpapers with texture add depth — whether that’s silk effects or suede — they’re so neutral. And then we layer items in the room on top of it.
We could go bolder on things like the cushions,’ adds Danielle Marsh, fellow director and co-founder of Wells and Maguire.
‘Or if you want to keep it more neutral and focus on texture, then lovely cushions, chunky throws and rugs are great.’
With textured wallpaper, clever lighting is key. ‘Good lighting and subtle or textured wallpaper go hand in hand. It catches the light and adds that extra dimension,’ says Katie Knight.
Whatever you choose, you can’t go far wrong with wallpaper, says Natasha Bradley, interior designer and colour expert at wallpaper designer Lick (lickhome.com/wallpaper).
‘Wallpaper is wallpaper; you are adding a detail to your space. Your eyes will be drawn to it, no matter what.
‘So, whether you decide on a subtle stripe or bold floral design, you will make an impact either way.’