How To Wow With Wallpaper  

Wallpaper is back

I grew up with a healthy fear of wallpaper…It might have something to do with the late ’70s being my formative years? My memory is peppered with the not so delightful task of applying hot water to strip old paper, laden with decades of cat spray (I can still smell it, all these years later). It’s no wonder my love of wallpaper has been a slow burn and relatively recent evolution.

Even without my support, wallpaper has hung in as a style statement (pun intended). It’s now back in a big way, with a huge variety of fabulous designs available. If you get it right, wallpaper can make an impressive impact in your home.

There are some basic rules to guide you along your wallpaper journey and a number of ways to get creative with it if you aren’t quite ready to take a deep dive into a pool of colour and pattern. Dip your toe into the glue pot by lining a bookcase or open shelving, or framing a large piece to use as art. If you’d rather wade in waist-deep you can add a pop to your powder room, or go wild in your walk-in wardrobe. 

 Regardless of your bravery levels wallpaper is a commitment. In my world, it’s one step down from a tattoo! The paper you choose should reflect your personality and work with the existing architecture and style of the home, so consider the points below before falling in love with a particular design.

Size Matters

How large is the room? Large prints can overwhelm a smaller room, and in a large space, smaller prints can become fussy and distracting. Simply put; where you have a smaller room, you’ll need a smaller print. For a larger room, you have the license to choose a larger print. 

Let there be light

How much natural light does the area get? Use lighter colours and metallics to reflect light in darker areas, like a hallway. Patterns with smooth surfaces also reflect more light. If you’d like to cosy up a larger area or nook, consider using darker colours and/or texture, as they absorb light.

Capture the magic of colour

The palette you choose can also impact on how large or intimate a space feels. To make your space appear larger, go with a background colour from the cool colour family – blue, green or violet. To cosy up a large room, go with warm colours – reds, yellows, and oranges. Depending on the mood you are trying to create, pick up soft tones in your palette for tranquillity, or add drama with more intense tones.

Work with what you have

Does the design work with the existing furnishings and window dressings? Unless you are doing a total overhaul, this can be an expensive oversight to fix. That beach-inspired choice might be a stretch with your dark period furniture.  

Assess imperfections

What condition are the existing surfaces in? Using textured or detailed patterns can help to disguise imperfections on the surface being wallpapered.  

Test your bravery levels

Treat wallpaper the same way you would a bold or out of your comfort zone colour – try it out first! Buy one roll, hang it in the room and live with it for a bit. What effect does the changing light throughout the day have? How do you feel when you enter the space? What about after an hour or two of being in the room? If you still love it a few weeks in, go for it! 

Beware the feature wall!

Many designers shy away from using wallpaper to create a feature wall, and I take their point. It can make a room feel half done, as if you ran out of money…or courage! However, if done well, a feature wall can make an impressive statement. I suggest painting the rest of the room in an anchor colour that compliments the wallpaper for a cohesive look.

Kids rooms

Choose a design that allows the style of the room to grow as your child does. A wallpaper with at least three colours will give them greater opportunity to change the look and feel of their space, using accessories in a similar palette – saving time, money and arguments! 

Reduce the commitment level

Wallpaper with a non-woven backing is easily removed when you’re ready for a change. 

Don’t DIY

Invest in an installation professional, especially for more detailed patterns – it really is harder than it looks!


Finally… if you are really brave, remember that rules are made to be broken. 

Is the idea of deciphering a colour wheel and narrowing down thousands of potential patterns overwhelming? Get in touch – this is the stuff I live for!





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For more information on classic colour schemes, talk to our team at pru@studiofwrd.com.au

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