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The Joy Of Wallpaper

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Gone are the days when a feature wall painted in a bright colour was considered the ultimate in interior design.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll have noticed that wallpaper has been staging something of a comeback. Digitally printed or hand embroidered, retro or luxuriously glam, the stylish options for your walls are infinite.

According to Kate Kingston, managing director of interior design company Kingston Shaw, wallpaper is key to transforming a house into a stylish home.

Kingston, who has been designing interiors for private and corporate clients in London, Los Angeles and Milan for more than 20 years, says wallpaper gives homeowners a chance to express their personality and individuality.

“That’s why it excites designers. Wallpaper is an excellent way to inject colour, texture and impact onto a blank canvas,” she says.

Melanie Adams, wallcoverings expert at Wallpaperdirect, says homeowners are becoming more adventurous about how they use wallpaper - and are prepared to experiment in certain rooms, including bathrooms.

Work out ways with walls to suit your home with advice from the experts.

Personal print

There are plenty of amazing papers available, but new technology means you can create a special design just for your home.

Kate Kingston says advances in digital printing mean designers and manufacturers work with homeowners to create stunning, one-off wall art. “We have found that bespoke wall coverings are becoming increasingly desirable to our clients,” she says. “They appreciate the exclusivity that a unique design delivers.”

Kingston Shaw recently created a bachelor pad in a penthouse apartment in Liverpool’s prestigious One Park West development, using bespoke wall coverings.

The company’s designers collaborated with Digetex, using its digital printing process to make a custom-fitted “alluring eyes” image that matched the dimensions of the wall to the millimetre.

They hung a mirrored wallpaper design from Osborne & Little on the ceiling as a contemporary nod to the bachelor pads of the 1970s, then created a digitally printed dartboard wall covering, topped with a competition dartboard.

Digetex have a range of imaginative wall-covers including their Dickens Bookcase wallpaper mural that mimics shelves full of books and starts from £129. Other wallpapers start from around £20 and bespoke digital prints from £180.

Touchy feely

Dramatic wall treatments may not be to everyone’s taste, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wallpaper out there to suit your home.

If you’re nervous at the thought of covering your walls in bold designs, Kingston suggests going for texture rather than pattern.

“To avoid that oppressive feeling of a busy patterned paper on all four walls, create a focal point by choosing a feature wall and painting the others in sympathetic neutrals,” she advises.

There aren’t any rules about where to hang your chosen wallpaper. “Get creative,” says Kingston. “Wallpaper can be hung on the ceiling or pasted on panels. Or you could try it in strips or geometric shapes on top of neutral painted walls to add warmth and depth.”

House Couturier has a stunning range of papers including a Quilter Lacquer wallcovering, from £98 a linear metre, and its Glam Grass metallic paper woven wallcovering, handcrafted in Japan, which has a shimmering effect, starts at £74 a linear metre.

Top tip: Always line walls before hanging your chosen wallpaper to ensure a smooth, professional finish.

Full-on florals

Flower prints and patterns never go out of fashion but interpretation of nature’s blooms is ongoing, and ensures there’s always a fresh look to pick from.

“Floral designs have come straight off the catwalk this spring. There is a hot trend for smaller floral designs,” says Paula Taylor, colour specialist at Graham & Brown.

“Larger floral prints are mixed and matched with smaller botanicals to create a co-ordinated look.

“Colour combinations are bold and striking with multi-coloured flower heads and big traditional bouquets hand-painted with watercolours and bold block colours for an eclectic twist.”

Pretty blooms feature on the company’s Lacework and Passion Lily papers, £30 a roll, and its Superfresco collection, from £20 a roll, also has attractive prints.

Little Greene’s Fifties Line Papers collection, from £38 a roll, features beautiful floral designs and, unusually, others inspired by herbs. Papers £44.50 a roll.

Top tip: Great floral colour combinations include purple and fresh greens, midnight blues with teals, reds with greys, and yellows with fresh greens and taupes.

Track a trend

Kingston says wallpaper and wall art trends often follow catwalk fashion, but nowadays leading design brands are even expanding their ranges to include wall coverings.

“It’s a sure sign of the growth, popularity and staying power of wallpaper that luxury brands are also entering the wall covering market,” says Kingston.

French brand Hermes, famous for its silk scarves, launched a small selection of wall coverings, starting from around £120 a roll.

Swarovski has just unveiled its opulent wallpaper range, which has the appearance of antique gilded glass with each rectangular pane fixed with a cluster of crystal rocks. It costs £560 a roll.

“We’re forecasting that the key trends will be prints based on naturals such as woods, stones and water and there’ll be a lot of bold black and white prints.”

Top tip: “People are becoming aware that it’s possible to have fun with walls,” says Paula Taylor. “With easy-to-hang papers it’s perfectly possible to change a wall if you decide it’s no longer to your taste. You can refresh a scheme by choosing new wallpaper or painting over it, which is particularly effective if it’s textured.”