Choosing the right wallpaper

For the Love of Wallpaper

Top tips on choosing the right wallpaper for your home

I do love a feature wall, so here’s a few of my inside tips for choosing the right wallpaper for your home. When we’re decorating a house for resell, we keep it neutral, simple, bright and airy.  Natural, light colours that aren’t going to offend anyone. Bold colours and patterned wallpapers aren’t for everyone – we’re entering in to the domain of personal choice now.

However, when it comes to decorating a house we’re making our family home, then I like to put my mark down in each room. Your home should reflect the personalities of those within and wallpaper is certainly one way to achieve that. Putting my mark down may very well come in the form of a carefully selected wallpaper, around which the room’s theme or colour scheme is built, or vice versa. If in doubt, think about the purpose of the room, those using it and the feeling you want to create. Then consider the imagery that reflects that.

It’s all very personal…

This example is very personal, but the wallpaper sheets used here reminded us of our love of travel. It was a great backdrop to help us visually escape during lockdown. Four of our favourite places in the world – New York, London, Venice and Paris.

Choosing the right wallpaper
Wallpaper is also a great way to ‘disguise’ structural elements within a home. In this design, 256 pieces of overlapping wallpaper mural sheets were pasted on to the back wall and structural pillar within this lounge area for maximum impact.

This has since been changed, and that’s OK too. Changing wallpaper from time to time is one way to completely change the look and feel of a space. To move with the times or your place in life. I’ve spoken to many people who were fed up with their own four walls after lockdown. Beautiful as their house may be, they just wanted to change up their interiors. A new colour, or a wallpaper, can achieve just that.

To see and feel is to behold…

Another key tip when choosing the right wallpaper for your home is to understand that wallpapers need to be seen and felt. The texture, the shininess, the way different light angles catch the wallpaper must all be experienced first hand. Whilst I order samples online, I’ll never choose a wallpaper without beholding it first, in it’s intended space. You also need to consider any ‘problems’ you may be trying to resolve with wallpaper. Does the room feel too small or too narrow? How can you change this effect with wallpaper? Stripes for example have the visual effect of ‘stretching’ a wall. If you have low ceilings or want to make a room feel taller, vertical patterned wallpaper can do the trick. If you want to make a room feel larger and longer, horizontal lines will support this vision.

Striped wallpaper can elongate a room
The vertical stripes of this Osborne & Little Samana wallpaper accentuate the height of the space, and follow the lines of the staircase right up to the loft room. What you can’t see from the picture, only in person, is the texture and sparkle in the design. It plays beautifully with the light that floods through the landing areas from a large roof velux window. If you’d like to see more interior pictures of this 5 bed home, check out the gallery here.

A labour of love

I also never make a decision on the spot with wallpaper, it’s a labour of love, often over several weeks. I need to look over a wallpaper many times in the ensuing weeks to see how I feel about it. To make sure I’m still enraptured by the design and colours. Where I’ve narrowed my selection down to a few choices, I’ll keep reviewing those over the next couple of weeks. They’ll frequently be looked at to narrow the selection down further until a final choice is reached for each room. If I still love it every time I look at it, then that’s likely “the one”. If I start to doubt a wallpaper, it hits the discard pile and gets returned to my wallpaper library.

Allow yourself time

When choosing the right wallpaper you need a few hours of uninterrupted “me” time. This is interiors therapy at its best to indulge in design and creative flair. Wallpaper after wallpaper of different textures, patterns and colours that could embrace your walls. Historically I have tended to do this on a quiet mid-week day in John Lewis or other interiors showroom. You need a place where there’s a dedicated area to lay out wallpaper supplier folders and browse at leisure.

More recently I tend now to do this online, browsing particular colours or ‘themes’ for a specific customer design project. Many online wallpaper suppliers allow you to order samples for delivery, some charge for this. Others make the first 1-3 samples available free of charge. Over the years, this has enabled me to fill several ring binders with wallpaper, all organised by colour for easy reference. Indeed, my personal and professional wallpaper library is becoming quite the collection now. As such, my library is frequently called upon when visiting clients to help with their interior finish selections.

Wallpaper - choosing the right one for your home

Is there really such a thing as a plain wallpaper?

Despite the myriad of beautiful and busy wallpaper designs that are on the market, there is also a place for ‘plain’ wallpapers. I say ‘plain’, but let’s face it, no wallpapers are really plain. ‘Plain’ wallpapers are often chosen for the contrast they bring to a space – the texture, the shine. A seemingly plain wallpaper can create a beautiful back drop wall to an otherwise painted room, bringing in texture and contrast.

Choosing the right wallpaper
This Crocodile Black wallpaper from Graham & Brown brings both textural and colour contrast to this bedroom, painted in Farrow & Ball Pointing. This is actually the guest bedroom in our current family home, to take a tour indoors of our home check out the full gallery here.
Wallpaper - choosing the right one for your home
Here, a silver textured wallpaper with a subtle sparkle (Lime Wash Plain in Silver from the Baker Lifestyle Collection) has been added to break the room up colour-wise and create a timeless but simple and clean feature wall. It’s all still fairly neutral in colour so easy to combine with busier soft furnishings.

Relatively ‘plain’ wallpapers I find work particularly well in bedrooms where you may want to switch the bedding from time to time to change things up. Having a one colour wallpaper allows you flexibility to regularly change the soft furnishings and create a different look and feel that way.

Other considerations

A few other considerations when choosing the right wallpaper for your home:

Children

Consider the location of wallpaper and where grubby hands may go, or where kids may brush past frequently. You may need to ensure you purchase a ‘sponge clean’ wallpaper, or not locate the wallpaper in main through-fares of the house. Consider where children’s school bags or similar may get dragged against a wall. A hole, snag or rip in wallpaper isn’t always easy to repair and may look a bit naff!

Overkill

One of my personal rules with wallpaper, is that I never put it on all four walls of a room. This would be overkill for me, too claustrophobic, too overpowering. But a thoughtfully chosen design, on one wall of a room, contrasted with painted walls elsewhere, can create a great balanced and harmonious look.

Be Brave

Go big and bold on big walls – over the years I have learnt my lesson here. I’ve found a beautiful wallpaper which is gorgeous in its own right and in the right space. However, if the design within is too small it will get completely lost on a big wall. So my advice is to be brave – go big and bold on larger walls. Don’t choose a design that hides in the shadows. Small designs blend in to the larger space and almost become unnoticeable. So in a large space, go large and let the wallpaper do the talking.

Wallpaper - choosing the right one for your home
This Conway wallpaper in antique bronze from Zoffany makes a real statement and enhances the art deco theme of this room

Respect

Respect the home – if you have a period property, then you may want to consider wallpaper that gives a gentle nod to the era of the home. Consider wallpaper styles and designs typical of that period that further bring out the character of the home. Ours is a 1928 home, so I was keen to create a room reminiscent of the art deco era.

Work with the room – wallpaper can visually change how you see a room. It’s size, it’s shape, it’s focal points. Identify what you are trying to bring focus to, what issue you are looking to overcome, what you have to work with. Let the wallpaper bridge any spaces and create the look and feel you are after.

Falling in love with a wallpaper

There are also times when I just fall in love with a wall paper and feel compelled to put it somewhere! These are invariably those kind of wall papers that really make a statement – you either love it or hate it. However, my house, my choice!

Enter this rather tropical Global Fusion wallpaper by Galerie which resides in my current lounge and really makes a statement. You know how I said above about being brave and bold….?!?!

Choosing the right wallpaper

And as for my top tip on choosing the right wallpaper – give yourself time.

Time to browse.

Time to get inspiration.

Time to enjoy the experience.

Time to see and feel.

Time to change your mind.

Time to fall in love with a wallpaper.

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