Wallpaper has made a come-back. After years of steaming and scraping the stuff off, wallpapering tables are being unfolded once again. Before you pick out patterns realise that covering your walls in wallpaper is a bigger commitment than painting them a shocking shade. If the end result proves too much to live with it’s not as simple as painting over the top, if you want to revert to paint, you’ve got the scrape the whole lot off! If you want to prevent going full circle here are our tips for choosing the right wallpaper.
A carefully picked pattern can trick the eye to make rooms look more spacious and ceilings higher, but get it wrong and it can have the opposite effect. To get the look just right consider the size of the room, the amount of walls you want to cover and the desired effect.
Size of the room
You can use wallpaper to open up a room. To create the illusion of space choose: light colours, they will open the room up; while vertical stripes will add height to the room; pastels are perfect for broadening walls to make a room appear larger and incorporated with subtle stripes they will draw the eye up and outwards.
A small room will be dwarfed by large bold prints, but if your heart’s set on a big design stick to a feature wall and keep the other walls a light shade. On the other hand a very small print can become lost in a large room, the trick is to get it just right.
It isn’t all about the scale of the room, properties with irregular walls should avoid stripes and geometric shapes as they will accentuate any unusual angles. If your walls are old or just in bad condition non-woven wallpapers work well covering cracks and imperfections, they’re thicker and tensile making them unlikely to split. Walls that are in bad condition often need to be re-plastered before they can be painted, whereas a good quality thick wallpaper laid directly over the existing plaster could prove a lot cheaper!
Amount of walls being covered
Before you pick a pattern decide what you want to wallpaper, all four walls? The ceiling? or just a feature wall? A large bold pattern may work well on a feature wall, but cover the entire room and it could feel a bit claustrophobic.
Wallpapering ceilings is a way to make rooms more cosy by giving the effect of a lower ceiling – not advisable unless you have high ceilings!
A feature wall is not created by wallpapering it, it should already be the natural focal point of the room. If when you walk into the room your eye isn’t drawn to specific space, wallpapering just one wall may not be the best choice. Instead wallpaper all four walls, a classic stripe design hung unconventionally horizontally achieves a modern twist on a classic pattern, unlikely to date quickly.
Image: Elle Decor
The desired effect
Consider the atmosphere you want to create, bearing in mind the period of your house and its furniture. Wallpaper is most effective when it is in situ with its surroundings. If you’re hot on a geometric design or bold floral print, think carefully before you cover your walls; a pretty pattern now could drive you crazy in a year’s time. Whether you’re just not brave enough to go all out with wallpaper or you know that print really shouldn’t take centre stage in your living room, the closet is the perfect location to hang it – like this closet fashion print (below).
Image: Midnight Friday
Statement patterns can overpower a room, if you want the wallpaper to be the main feature keep soft furnishings plain or with a smaller pattern or texture. For a romantic feel, florals pastels and prints with fine lines work well together, this style will look best in the bedroom. Bold geometrics and metallics are the contemporary stamp on wallpaper design. For a modern twist, large scale floral and metallic accents are well placed in both living rooms and bedrooms. For the traditionalists you can’t beat a good stripe or intricate damasks, coordinated with traditional furnishings and décor.
Colours such as light tones of blues and greens create a feeling of calm, while dark colours in small areas will create a dramatic effect -pictures or decorative items look good when lit against a dark background.
Image: Pam Garrison
Don’t buy before you try, choose samples and ask for large pieces so you can pin them up on the wall vertically. When you’re ready to roll, follow this guide to work out how much you will need to buy.
1. Measure all of the walls and multiply the width by the height of each wall in feet
2. Add all measurements to work out the total square footage
3. Deduct for windows and doors
4. Check the roll label to find out how much square foot coverage the roll gives. Ensure the roll coverage is more than the total wall square footage
5. The general rule is to order one roll more than what you need
Quick tip: Buy all of the rolls you need at the same time, rolls from different product runs may have some variation in colour – check the batch number of the roll. You can always return any unused rolls.
The more complex the pattern, the more difficult it will be to hang, therefore unless you’re a seasoned DIY-er or are hanging some simple stripes we recommend you hire a decorator.