Don’t panic - you can do wonders with wallpaper

Ellen Widdup Interiors feature, Wallpaper

Ellen Widdup Interiors feature, Wallpaper - Credit: Archant

As the old adage says: “What goes around, comes around”. And this is certainly true of wallpaper.

One of Jojo's favourites - Ellie Cashman wallpaper

One of Jojo's favourites - Ellie Cashman wallpaper - Credit: Archant

Dismissed after the 1970s as more suited to grandma’s bedroom, wallpaper is one decorating element now firmly back in fashion. Woodbridge interior designer Jojo Humes Brown tells us more.

Farrow and Ball wallpaper - Tourbillon

Farrow and Ball wallpaper - Tourbillon - Credit: Archant

Many moons ago, as a young mum of three children under the age of five, I was pushing a buggy aimlessly through a design store when I spotted an advert for a part time assistant.

Adam Eden Staircase wallpaper

Adam Eden Staircase wallpaper - Credit: Archant

With no experience – other than a love of home décor – I managed to land myself an interview where I babbled away on the subject.

Cole & Son Whimsical Archipelago border wallpaper

Cole & Son Whimsical Archipelago border wallpaper - Credit: Archant

“Yes, but can you wallpaper?” the manageress asked in exasperation.


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“Yes no problem,” I said confidently, hoping I would learn quickly. I was hired then and there.

Paste and roll

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It was a baptism of fire. My first job was to wallpaper the area inside the shop window, with the glaring lights and glaring public all witness to my inexperience.

But do you know what? I did a great job.

And if I could put up a patterned print in front of an audience without getting glue in my hair, so can you.

Many people are put off wallpapering for fear they will do it wrong. But it’s actually fairly simple to do – and incredibly effective.

Why wallpaper?

Giving a room a coat of wallpaper is such a transformative thing to do.

To go large or to have a small pattern is all down to personal taste and the purpose of the room.

Sometimes it’s good to make a statement with your walls - then the other items in your room such as curtains can be plain to set the design off.

It can often be easier to do this in a less used room such as a dining room or bedroom where this impact will be easier to live with.

Small patterns however, act as a great foil for other elements of design and can really cosy up a room making it feel warmer than a painted wall.

A lovely treat is a metallic wall covering. This catches the light and looks different from every angle.

Another clever use of wallpaper is using texture on the walls.

You no longer have to hope to find wallpaper in the colour you want. Instead, apply the wallpaper in the texture you like and paint it with the exact shade you desire.

A huge surprise in wallpaper is the re-emergence of flocked wallpaper.

Some of the trendiest hotels are employing this Seventies standard for more high-style with retro appeal.

Renting? The solution

If you don’t own your own home and want the luxury of pattern and texture, there is a solution.

There are papers available on the internet which are great for this situation and can be stuck to the wall and are easily peeled off when you leave.

Check out www.tempaper.com for more information.

Is one wall enough?

Feature walls get a bad press. But actually wallpaper on one wall can make a great statement.

And without over-crowding your space, you can afford to be a little more daring in your choices.

There are so many great prints to pick from.

Bookcases, tin tiles, forests, cities. Put in the right location, bold wallpapers like these can really make a room sing.

Just remember they are the stars of the show and the bigger the star, the bigger the stage.

And don’t forget that there has to be other elements of joy in the room - a great lamp, a “wow” cushion or a beautiful vase to give that star some backing vocals so to speak.

DIY or get a guy?

This all depends on your level of expertise. As I said at the beginning I managed to get away with it and hopefully you won’t have to learn in public like I did.

If you are going for DIY, start small with one wall. There are some great guides out there.

Resist the temptation to paste up a roll of paper without doing some prep work first.

Before using any wallpaper, roll on a coat of wallpaper sealer.

This product will ensure that when it’s time for the paper to come down, you will be able to get it off of the walls.

Ideally begin at the corner and hang your first length of paper on a wall with no doors or windows. That way, you can hang a full length from the ceiling to the top of the skirting board.

However, if your wallpaper has a large pattern, it’s a good idea to hang the first length over a fireplace or other focal point.

Then work away from it in both directions to make the design central and symmetrical.

If you have made the investment of luxury wallpaper then sometimes it is time to get in the experts.

I am currently designing a beautiful hallway for a client where the paper is 132cm wide so definitely a job for someone with experience.

Even I wouldn’t fake it until I make it on that one.

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