Choosing Wallpaper

Choosing Wallpaper for Stunning Interiors

Wallpaper – I love it! My grandfather was a painter and wallpaper hanger, so as a young child, in the school holidays I would go and help him at work. My memories are fond of the time spent with him, but the wallpapering was not what I did, instead I had the task of carefully stripping it off the existing walls.
A lot of things have changed in the design world since then, wallpaper has been in and out of fashion but I think it will always have a place in homes. It adds another dimension to an interior that you can’t get by using just paint.

Wallpaper provides color, pattern and texture.

Watch Lee Brown talk with Sheryl Borden about Wallpaper.

Older period homes definitely look better when wallpaper is used, they tie in all the detailing of timber paneling and plaster cornices and ceiling roses, and there are many period papers still available. Printed scenery, flowers, damasks, moirés.

Period Homes Suit Wallpaper
Period homes suit wallpaper, this room would not have the same visual impact without it.

Modern homes have had trends of using wallpaper as feature walls. They tend to use bold designs and colors to make a focal point in a room whereas the period homes the wallpaper tends to create the general ambiance of the room.

Wallpaper Feature Wall
Using wallpaper as a feature wall is very common. It is a great way to add color, texture or pattern to a room and a focal point, without closing a room in by having a dark, bold or busy wallpaper on every wall.

Wallpaper is not a cheap finish for your walls, but it does add luxury to your room and is well worth the investment.

There are a few things to consider when making a selection

What is the style of the room and choosing the correct paper to suit?

Bedrooms generally use softer more muted patterns, subtle textures for a romantic look. For dramatic bedrooms, high contrast black and whites, or black and golds using geometric patterns are a popular choice. Often these bold wallpapers are used to create a feature behind the bed, as they are very overwhelming if used for an entire room and tend to enclose the space. Big and bold is also popular for entrance ways where you want to make a statement when your guests arrive, also the guest powder room, as it’s a space that is not occupied for long periods at a time you can use more daring wallpaper designs.

Big and bold retro design wallpaper
Wallpaper can easily set a style or theme.

The lovely foils and metallics have made a comeback and create a luxurious opulent look.
Traditional designs steer towards simple stripes, damasks, gentle florals which often coordinate with fabrics. Anaglypta is also a popular choice – this is a simple wallpaper that has a raised pattern, it is applied to the wall and then painted over.

Wallpaper works really well when renovating as it can hide a small amount of wall blemishes. It is used often if there is a dado or chair rail – the anaglypta is placed below it and provides a textured look. It was used on ceilings, but we do tend to want flat ceilings these days.

How do we want to use the wallpaper we choose?

The traditional way is using it on all the walls in the room. This works well if the pattern and color are not too big and dark. It can be enclosing in a small room.
Using it to highlight an area is a popular way to use high end expensive papers for maximum value for money, as I mentioned earlier, behind a bed or at an entrance way.

Bold Wallpaper above Dado Rail
Bold wallpaper making a statement, as you can see the pattern is large, but broken up with windows and being only above the dado/chair rail.

Under a chair rail. This breaks up the wall and you can add stripes and patterns, or paper and paint combination. A dark solid stripe or pattern on the bottom below the chair rail will ground the scheme and then something lighter and in a different pattern will be an unexpected effect for your guests.

Ensuring you use a vinyl coated paper in any areas where there is moisture. This will ensure that the wallpaper retains its integrity. Paper faced wallpapers will be quickly damaged with water splashes and humidity.

Wallpaper Pattern can really create a sense of drama.
Wallpaper Pattern can really create a sense of drama.

Textured wallpapers can add some depth to a wall and can also do a good job of covering imperfections. The patterns of textured wallpapers are generally quite simple and repetitive. Printed flat wallpaper patterns have far more scope. Flat or non-textured wallpapers can have fine detailing in the design with embellishments like metallic, gloss, or mica effects. In general, textured patterns give a more casual look to a room, whereas flat designs can make a wall more structured.

Wall Decals

Now just to confuse things we look at Wall Decals. A wall decal has many names – wall sticker, wall tattoo, or wall vinyl. It is basically a flexible vinyl material that sticks to a wall or other smooth surface for decoration and informational purposes. Wall decals are cut with vinyl cutting machines. Some are removable.

Wall decals are now all the rage, you can pretty much get any design you want. They are amazing for children, I have seen forests on the walls, fairy castles, butterflies, safari animals, cherry blossom and of course the child’s favorite movie characters.

Wall Decals
Wall decals can really make an impact – see the flower design in this living room.

As a commercial interior designer, I used to use wall decals for office fitouts, receptions and breakout rooms, they were very expensive and had to be custom made by sign writers. Now you can design your own and order them online. They are a fabulous way to add your personality to a space.


To summarize wallpaper opens up an enormous library for decoration. Ensure you think about how many you use and how they work together in your home, keep a theme, style or color consistent and ensure your design flows through your home. It’s very exciting what you can achieve with a few rolls of wallpaper.

Learn Interior Design

This is just one of the things you will learn from our online Interior Decorating and Interior Design Course at WillowCollege. Easy 3-minute lessons you can learn on your smart phone, table, laptop or PC.

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