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How to use Wallpaper

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

“How to be Bolder in your Interiors without the Fear Factor – Step 3; How to Decorate with Wallpaper”

Now, this is the one I’ve been really itching to write so brace yourselves my little bold besties as a) I love this topic so it’s a bit of a long one & b) I’m feeling a bit ratty this Monday morning, so soz in advance if it comes across a little more vehemently than a blog really should!

Hopefully you haven’t clicked out due to concerns over reading about my wallpaper fascism, I’m truly excited about this post, as I genuinely believe that choosing a bold & beautiful wallpaper can lift a room so intensely. The subsequent effect of making a room feel joyous will have exactly the same effect on how YOU feel each time you see it. We need that kind of vibe now more than ever right?

Wallpaper has made a MASSIVE comeback in the past few years & the possibilities are quite literally endless but before we get in to details we need to address something that is a teensy bit controversial…FEATURE WALLS. Now, I am probably going to offend people on this, including many people I know, but to be frank, if I’m only offending you about my views on feature walls, you’ve got off lightly. As an aside here, I spotted an ad on Insta last week by the truly fabulous British Designer, Abigail Ahern who was talking about this very subject, so as an official Disclaimer, I have had these Blog steps scheduled for a while & I am not copying her (lol, am I 14 or 41 for God’s sake?) To be fair, I can’t even find the post now so there you go.

The 90s & early 2000s were the golden age for adding a feature or accent wall – usually a chimney breast or the wall behind your sofa or bed & a jazzy paint colour was where it started, often a lovely shade of terracotta or purple keeping every other wall in the room the passive aggressive villain of every piece, Magnolia. Things then progressed to choosing a “statement” wallpaper, often velvet damask or something stripey or floral. Come on, we all did it & if you didn’t, I bet you had a border ;) Feature walls can work, but don’t make them a completely stand alone, errrmm, well, feature of the room. The colours or style need to accent with other things in the space but anyway, I digress, this blog post is about wallpaper not feature walls & basically, to cut to the chase, I’m saying STOP USING WALLPAPER AS FEATURE WALLS. WALLPAPER THE WHOLE GODDAMN ROOM!

Phew, there, I’ve said it – well, shouted it, told you I was feeling ratty didn’t I? In all seriousness, one of the reasons people went for the feature wall was because they were too scared to wallpaper the whole room. I feel ya, it can be quite daunting to envisage turning your living room in to something from an Alice in Wonderland trip (oh-oh, she’s back on the weird fiction references but please, go with me on this one). To me, wallpapering one wall in a stunning print is kinda like being one of those people who say how crazy or mad fun they are at parties when they’ve had a few – you IMMEDIATELY know they’re not because the real over the top peeps either don’t need to say that as it’s glaringly obvious from their behaviour or they want to keep it quiet until they’re 8 wines in as it really is a show & a half! My tag line #BEBOLDER is truly what it’s all about here; if you love the wallpaper, don’t be half arsed, go all in, up to the hilt, more is more I promise you. When you’re reimagining a room, start with what you want on the walls & go from there. It’s also a common misconception that busy patterned wallpaper will make the room draw in on itself or you won’t be able to hang pictures or art effectively, this is not always true. If you’ve got a lot of framed pics, make sure all the frames match each other, are plain & simple in design & are in a colour or material that complements the pattern of your wallpaper. For example, gloss black thin edged frames work beautifully against a bright green jungle or palm print. Equally, gold or brass works beautifully with blues, blacks & teals. Mirrors also look amazing against wallpaper, just be sure to keep the frames uniform in material if you’re using more than one.

Having said all of the above, there are a couple of things to bear in mind with bold prints; room usage, purpose & TV placement in particular. I am an absolute avid advocate of truly out there wallpapers but they also have to be right for how you use the room. A heavily patterned wallpaper either side of a wall mounted TV can be visually distracting & a bit chaotic if you’re trying to concentrate on the latest episode of Bridgerton for example. Additionally, you may not want to wake up to crown wearing leopards in leotards every morning or feel like you’re in a Madagascan rainforest every night while you cook dinner. If you do, then that’s utterly fabulous & please contact me immediately for your #bebolder graduation certificate. We are also pretty fickle folk & our buzzed out brains get bored of things quite quickly, so if you’re still a bit unsure or don’t want to be redecorating every couple of years, perhaps start with the rooms you don’t spend as much time in to go all out with wallpaper madness – dining rooms, spare bedrooms and even downstairs loos can be great places to have a ball with the boldness baby! Having a wall based inspired adventure in these rooms will still bring you an immense amount of pride & pleasure I promise you.

It would be impossible to list all my favourite suppliers & designers here because I have so many & one of the best things about wallpaper making such a bold resurgence is that there are options for all budgets. Below is a list of some of my current faves (this is by no means exhaustive, just a few to get you started) in ascending order of average cost per roll. I’ll leave out the Don of wallpaper design, because at approximately £11K for an average room, it might be a bit of a stretch #goals.

Choosing a boldly patterned wallpaper design doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up with patterns in the same room too. To me a highly contrasting patterned rug can look insanely stunning against a completely different patterned wallpaper. Don’t be afraid of clashing colours either, a rich Prussian blue sofa would look delicious against a dark plum & gold patterned wallpaper. Add a zebra print rug to the mix & well, I’ll be hiring you as my beautiful bold deputy before you could say, “I’m really a minimalist, get me out of here!” Many of the brands listed above also offer their wonderful wallpaper designs in soft furnishings & even tableware (think cushions, throws, curtains, placemats, coasters etc!) so it’s there ready for you to go all out if you choose one of their creations!

One thing that I would also recommend if you’ve chosen an expensive, designer wallpaper, is to have it hung by an experienced tradesperson. Understanding the pattern repeat, the folds round windows, the fact most walls aren’t straight & so on requires a level of expertise that most of us don’t have – keep your fold up pasting table for the boot fair & hire someone in. It’s a real investment so you want to keep wastage down & the finish to be spectacular!

Before I go (thank you if you’ve got this far as I’ve been on a bit of a roll with this one - first pun of the blog & it’s nearly over!) I feel a need to revisit the feature wall debate as I truly don’t want to alienate you all before we’ve even met! Sometimes, if one wall is all you’ve really got to work with, for example, if you’ve got built in wardrobes, lots of wall units in your kitchen, bifolds etc, just do it because ultimately, it’s not a feature wall is it, it’s THE wall, so it doesn’t count. If you still remain unconvinced that four walls of Gatsbyesque deco delights are for you, then another less dramatic option is to paper two opposing walls & paint the other two. Or if you really have to have just one wall papered, then paint the others in an accent colour that also features in the paper, this will mean your room is still making a statement, you’re still being bolder & basically, you can still be in our gang.

I’m also a huge fan of wallpaper murals & these can be a really brilliant option as they could be classed as the more up to date feature wall I guess, but also used as wallpapers for an entire room. There’s so much to say on them & so many reasons I love them that I think I’ll leave it for another blog. Check out these guys for some serious inspiration in the meantime though &

Nearly forgot to mention the softly softly comeback of & its posher cousin In the right period property, this type of wall covering looks divine & Anaglypta also offers some really different choices for creating modern textured looks that can be achieved through wallpaper. Take a look at the examples of both on Instagram @lincrusta.offical & @anaglyptauk if you don’t believe me, you’ll be having a rethink I’m sure ;)

Anyway, all joking aside, what I want to do with these blogs is inspire you to be less afraid of all the wild & wonderful things that are out there in the interior décor world. Cats drinking Martinis, elegant Chinoiserie that starts at the base of the wall, rare orchids trailing from the ceiling, leather snakeskin effects, squirrels playing the yukele or insane geometric prints, there’s something for us all with wallpaper. Find something that makes your heart sing, that lifts you up, that reflects you as a person. Ultimately, that’s all that matters & I’d love the opportunity to help you bring your boldness out, we all have it, it’s just waiting to be unleashed!

Give me a call if you’re bold enough…I’M JOKING…..I’m really approachable ;)

Love you all,

Kate x

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