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Reconsidering wallpaper: how this once tired trend is being reimagined

While wallpaper was once considered merely a wall dressing and background medium, today it is a hot interior option used to bring depth, contrast and vibrancy to any room. Consider swapping your paint roller for a paste brush, and let wallpaper set the tone for your home. “Wallpaper brings a layer of design and texture that paint simply can’t produce,” says Ann-Louise Lollo Jansson, creative director, stylist and owner of Scandinavian Wallpaper & Decor. “A great wallpaper can really tell a story about who is living there; it can evoke a story.”

A fantastic wallpaper can also act as a visual anchor for a beautifully edited or relaxed arrangement of art or decor. “I love to layer my wallpapers with pictures and paintings, vintage wall sconces and mirrors,” says hunter and collector Catherine Cornish of Brisbane interiors company Sachs and Cornish, “but be aware of accessorising in front of a busy wallpaper. This is when wallpaper should be the feature, not a background for your objects.”

Unlike choosing a paint colour, finding the perfect wallpaper requires consideration on many levels. Think about the size of the room, the height of the ceiling, whether your wall is bathed in light or is a dark spot, and what furniture and decor will be placed in front of it. “Wallpaper like any interior selection should complement your existing interior. Choose a wallpaper that ties all the elements together rather than as a stand-out wall on its own,” agrees Jansson.

Unlike wall paint that can be quickly and easily replaced, wallpaper is a medium with longevity. Resist slavishly following interior trends or new season ‘it’ colours, and instead focus on palettes, prints and patterns you feel a connection with. “Don’t rush the selection of your wallpaper,” says Cornish. “It’s not like a throw cushion; once it is up, you will be living with it for a long time.”

Take the time to do your research. “Look at the internet and at interior design magazines for lots of examples of rooms with wallpaper to help you decide on your look,” she says. “I spent six months choosing my wallpapers. I put up swatches on the walls and very quickly could see the ones I would get sick of.” If unsure, choose a block colour or a simple graphic print.

“Stripes are very easy to decorate against, or choose a print that is more overpowering or fun, and use it in a smaller room. It won’t challenge you in terms of styling, and you won’t tire of it,” she adds.

For thrifty renovators, wallpapering can be a costly option. “Unfortunately most lovely wallpapers are expensive but they are worth every cent,” says Cornish. “Hunt for designer wallpaper on online and on eBay – but always know the brand,” she says.  “One way to save money is to use a more expensive wallpaper but just paper one wall of the room.”

For clean uncluttered modernity free of colour and print chaos, transform a wall into a single wall of art. “This works especially well if you are using a graphic or photo wallpaper mural,” says Jansson. For high graphic impact, try a Scandinavian design wallpaper that combines graphic elements fused with black and white. “We are also seeing lots of pastel and soft plush pink colours coming through here,” she adds. A deliberately restrained colour palette also sits easily in the home and is a cinch to style. “Try the ever popular dip dyed trend, faux marble or a mineral surface.”  Papering walls in subtle graphics is also a gentle way to use wallpaper that imparts contemporary chic, with an interesting hit of texture. “Raw materials such as brass, copper, woods and stonewash digitally printed, bring divine textures to walls,” she says.

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