When it comes to interiors, wallpaper is one of those magical elements that can instantly shake up the look and feel of your space. Whether you are using it to add texture, depth, a pop of colour or even to transport the room to a whole new time and place, it’s a wonderfully effective design feature that can be truly transformative – if chosen correctly. Wallpaper is both an investment in time and money and therefore deserves some careful thought and consideration before making your selection.
We spoke to some of the Fabric Collective designers and have rounded up their top tips and pieces of advice for anyone ready to elevate their interiors with wallpaper.
1) Decide On Your Goal
Your choice of wallpaper design should be dictated by the effect that you want to create with it.
“In designing with wallpaper, I think one should ask if they want to make a statement or add texture to a room. My favourite wallpaper designs are the ones that add a subtle texture to the room, creating a new surface upon which one can layer a curation of objects, artwork, lighting, etc. Wallpaper should accentuate the objects in the room not BE the object in the room.” – Brook Perdigon
2) Let The Space Lead You
Different interior spaces will usually call for different kinds of wallpaper designs.
“Your choice of wallpaper is all about where it is going to go. Bedrooms should be calm. I’ve put my Temple Cranes paper in several bedrooms and it is fabulous to live with but if you find a very vivid wallpaper that you love, it can look amazing in a small loo, bathroom or even a landing that you just pass through. My Lyre Birds looks fabulous in a hallway with old green woodwork.” – Claire Worthington
“Florals and scrolling patterns are great for disguising awkward spaces and angles, for example in attic rooms. They literally meander over the corners – it’s very charming.” – Parker & Jules
"Using wallpaper in an entrance hall is great as you can use the colours here to lead into the rooms from it and you'll always be passing through." – Parker & Jules
“On the whole, I think most rooms in the house can be wallpapered. It is especially lovely to wallpaper rooms that you wouldn’t normally expect to, like kitchens for example." – Sarah Vanrenen
"You can be more adventurous in dark passages and badly lit cloakrooms by using dark patterned papers which create a moody, impactful but very sophisticated atmosphere.” – Penny Morrison
3) Start Small for Big Impact
If the idea of wallpaper is a little scary to you, don't be put off. Starting small can help you get used to the idea of wallpaper – while also achieving big design impact.
"We think wallpaper is more of an investment than paint and can feel like a big decision. Consider staring small. For example, choose a space that is often visited like a cloakroom, the utility room or a bathroom. Gain confidence in these spaces and get a sense of how your house and architecture respond to the style of wallpaper chosen. Don't underestimate the impact of using wallpaper in small spaces. Jules put Strawberry Fields into a pantry with bright shelving and it brings joy every day repeatedly." – Parker & Jules
Parker & Jules designs left to right: Strawberry Fields Spring Green Wallpaper | Ziggy Wedgewood Wallpaper (Ziggy won an award for its versatility; a stunning design that works successfully in both traditional architectural settings and modern spaces.)
"I love to paper the inside of cupboards. I love cupboards that appear old on the outside, but when you open them, reveal a nice, clean and surprising place for your clothes. Also it will be closed most of the time so will offer a surprise again and again. Almost anything goes here. I particularly love my Jasmine Birds for this.” – Claire Worthington
4) Think Twice About That Feature Wall
Something to consider before jumping into this popular design trend . . .
"A feature wall is not great because the pattern doesn’t wrap around the space and come together. It’s better to choose a design that you can commit to all round.” – Parker & Jules
5) Take Light Into Account
Like paints, wallpaper designs can look different depending on the lighting. Make sure to take this into account when making your decision.
“Light to me is the most important element as it will dictate the hues. Certain colours such as night blue, deep emerald, deep reds or golds are wonderful night colours which look great in dining rooms as they sparkle at night time.
My bedroom is quite dark as my windows look out onto trees but with the combination of white linen and the gilded Golden Bees wallpaper, even the weak sun rays bring the room to life so it feels vibrant both day and night.” – Jennifer Shorto
Jennifer Shorto designs: Golden Bees Wallpaper
6) Trust Your Instincts
At the end of the day, there is no 'right and wrong' – if you like it, that's what's important.
“My advice to the colour/pattern-tentative out there is that safe choices result in mediocre satisfaction. Safe looks, well, nice. Daring to make a bolder call by choosing a go-for-it print or colourway that creates an emotional reaction allows for something loftier: dynamism in your space and elation for you. Is it riskier? Yes. But mitigate that risk by sampling to whatever degree possible. Chances are if you love it (and colour and pattern can do that), it’s the right answer, and it will become your favourite space in your home.” – Serena Dugan
“Don't make choices based on what's popular. Choose colours and patterns that make you feel good when you look at them.” – Lake August
7) Use Your Samples Seriously
Wallpapering is more of a commitment than some other design changes, so make sure to use samples to get a feel for living with the design before taking the plunge.
“Before I incorporate a new fabric or wallpaper pattern into my home, I live with the sample for quite some time. I tape it up, lay it over the piece, move it around the room to see how it looks with the other furnishings in the space. I find that if I am hesitant to move forward with the design then it isn’t something I am going to want to live with.” – Brook Perdigon
"Remember, when you look at a sample the pattern will appear very static and contained whereas once installed, the pattern repeat will scroll all the way through the space in calming rhythm which harmonises the pattern. So identify your pattern repeat, maybe order a roll and get a feel for how its pattern repeats and flow around your space." – Parker & Jules
8) Protect Your Paper
Depending on where you are planning to put up your wallpaper, you may need to take some extra precautions to keep it in good order.
“We all know that small spaces like downstairs guest loos are the one place you can really go mad and be bold. In the same vein, bathrooms are spaces that can often also take bolder designs. It’s always advisable to put a coat of water-resistant matt varnish on papers in bathrooms and kitchens to guard against condensation.” – Sarah Vanrenen
“Grasscloth is incredibly chic. It is lovely to use in a study or a hall but not in an area that has heavy traffic as it can fray.” – Sarah Vanrenen
9) Complement Your Wallpaper
Think beyond the wallpaper itself. Make the space work with the wallpaper and vice versa.
"I think it is lovely to pick a complementary colour to paint the woodwork in (or even a colour that matches). This makes the paper stand out even more and frames the walls, sometimes adding an element of surprise." – Sarah Vanrenen
"Personally I like using a wallpaper that exactly matches the curtain fabric; it is a good way to pull a room together making it look cosy and unified. Plus it is much cheaper that using fabric batons on the walls. This is a fantastic way to make a small bedroom very inviting." - Penny Morrison
Penny Morrison design: Blinds and wall coverings in Latika
10) And when you're ready to place your order?
A practical tip!
"When ordering wallpaper always order at least one extra drop of a wide width and an extra roll of normal width than you think you will need." – Sarah Vanrenen
Top Image: Serena Dugan Wallpaper Designs (Left to right): Bahia Grasscloth Midnight/Blue Wallpaper | Cassis Grasscloth Prussian Blue/Natural Wallpaper | Cassis Grasscloth Dove/Natural Wallpaper | Bahia Grasscloth Onyx/Natural Wallpaper