I have to confess, I’ve never really been a fan of wallpaper.
And by never really, I mean, I’ve actually had a severe aversion to it that I can trace directly back to the hideous mish-mash of wallpapers that adorned the walls of my childhood home that still give me nightmares to this day. I think I’ve always considered wallpaper to be very outdated and synonymous with ornate or shabby chic decor, but in recent years I found myself being strangely drawn to a variety of different designs, whether it be the beautifully textured styles popping up all over Pinterest these days, the whimsical cloud print in the lobby of the Hotel Paradis in Paris, or the artfully mismatched retro styles in Jean Milburn’s home in Sex Education. I think I’ve always thought that wallpaper doesn’t fit with a minimalist decor scheme, yet slowly but surely contemporary wallpaper manufacturers are challenging that long-held notion!
As much as I love plain white painted walls (and will have to continue living with them since my home is rented), when I Love Wallpaper got in touch to showcase their fabulous selection of designs to me recently I was keen to explore how each of my favoured prints might look in my home. Generally, whenever I want to get to grips with a new trend or design style I like to start in a small, non-committal, way and I think that when it comes to something as scary – and generally pretty committed – as wallpapering your home, then a ‘try-before-you-buy’ approach is very much advised!
Whatever your own style persuasions, I Love Wallpaper are likely to have you covered. Their website groups designs by colour, room, style and finish with options that cover everything from boho to industrial, art deco to tropical. They also have full wall mural options too.
For my home though, soft and muted neutrals with a warm undertone is the colour palette that has my heart, so I wanted to select a few designs that fit this scheme to test out in different areas of my home, and see if I could be converted into a wallpaper lover…
While my home growing up was a slave to everything wrong with late seventies and early eighties decor (avocado bathroom suite, check; red velvet curatins, check; floral print everywhere, check), there are many seventies decor trends that I continue to be drawn to. Namely, textured wallpaper (yes, really!) and palm print. Both can of course be incredibly kitsch when used in abundance, but I think they can also be incredibly chic and stylish when pared down and subtly accessorised. So I started by filtering the I Love Wallpaper catalogue with both of these filters, to see what popped up… (see: textured and tropical)
I found myself very drawn to the hessian style finish of the Adria Plain wallpaper in beige right off the bat, which I felt would add a soft warmth to our bedroom and complement many of the linen bedding options we currently have on rotation, as well as the warmer wood tones of our wardrobe and drawers, and the tactility of our rattan accent pieces.
And I must say, after taping up a couple of sheets of this paper in our room to get a feel for the style I’m really struggling not to want to go ahead and paper the whole room with it! I love the way the light bounces off the paper throughout the day; at certain times really drawing out the texture of the paper as the light refracts, and at other times mellowing down to a soft gentle sheen. As you can see from the swatch shot above, we have a soft mottled brown carpet throughout most of the rooms in our home (a typical but thankfully not horrendous landlord choice), and I feel the soft beige tones also interplay nicely with the texture of the carpet below.
When it came to choosing a palm print wallpaper for the bedroom I wanted to try a far more opulent style, and embrace a more glamorous vibe. The Sapphire Palm Leaf wallpaper in cream/gold certainly adds an instant touch of elegance to our room, and while I know my boyfriend would probably veto a decision to actually paper a feature wall behind our chest of drawers, I am definitely very tempted!
I really liked the paper thickness of this decadent design and – quite surprisingly for me – loved the metallic detail that ran through the tropical leaf print, which again picks up the light beautifully, both during the day and the sun moves across the room and under the soft glow of candlelight in the evening. It makes the perfect backdrop for a little vanity area, and contrasts beautifully with some of the key accent hues I have been working into the room lately, inspired by my favourite nail polish shades.
Downstairs in our living room I wanted to test out two different wallpaper options behind our long television console, which is the heart of the room and the wall we spend most evenings gazing toward. I was keen to test out both tile effect and brick effect options, as I’ve always harboured a desire for a New York warehouse-style apartment (or even just a central Manchester one!)
Keeping with the soft neutrals theme, the Messina Tile wallpaper in beige/gold was calling my name and made me think of a warm, bright, beachy adobe. I felt the design would pair perfectly with the softly textured front of our TV console, as well as the black and white palm tree print that has long adorned that end of the unit, and I don’t think I was wrong! The gentle slubby texture of this detailed design created a warm, bright vibe in this corner of the room, and I really liked the non-uniformness of the pattern, which felt like it captured the essence of a well-worn villa in a sun-drenched town. Sounds blissful, right?
In contrast, I opted for the classic red/white Brooklyn Brick wallpaper to test out at the other end of the console and loved how realistic the design actually was! Of course, up close you can see the bricks are one-dimensional, but when you’re standing back across the room the effect is very, well, effective – much more so than I had envisioned. Again I loved how non-uniform the exposed brick design was as it added so much interest and perceived texture to the wall, and again worked beautifully against the tactile finish of our cabinet, albeit in a very different way.
Keep scrolling to see how the two designs create completely different vibes in opposite corners of our living room – and to also see how I tacked the panels up using blue masking tape to keep them held up securely for a couple of days without causing any lasting damage to our walls.
It’s certainly a technique I’d recommend if you’re struggling to decide between two different wallpapers for your home, or just struggling to visualise how a particular design may work in a space. While small sample papers are great for giving a sense of colour and paper quality, I really believe it’s worth investing in a roll or two of papers you’re drawn and taping up enough panels to really give yourself a feel for the design – especially if you’re a little wallpaper-phobic like me! While it’s of course a pricier way of doing things, I do believe that decorating a room fully is a true investment and the final effect is one you will likely live with for several years, so it’s worth being sure before putting paste to wall.
Do you have wallpapered walls in your home? How did you go about choosing your paper designs? I always love to hear your decorating tales!
This post is in partnership with I Love Wallpaper, but as always all thoughts and views are my own. All photography © Kate Baxter.