Wallpaper was believed to have been invented as far back as 200BC by the Chinese, who glued rice-paper onto their walls and also onto wooden frames to make simple and lightweight room separation screens. Often hand painted, this rather luxurious (and expensive) method of decorating paper soon changed with the arrival of wooden block printing techniques which enabled the mass production of repeating patterns that could be easily and cheaply replicated.
These days, wallpaper or rather, wall coverings as they can also be called, encompass a wide range of materials from the traditional printed paper type to the technologically advanced textured vinyls reminiscent of yesteryear. You see them everywhere, from the luxurious changing rooms in Selfridges to the most delightful boutique hotels that seem to be popping up like daisies in summer. But how does one get the most out of contemporary designer wallpapers?
Consider first where you are going to use it. Do you want a trendy feature wall? Are you going to decorate a whole room? Or are you going to throw caution to the wind and paper every single wall in your house?
If you have a feature wall in mind think carefully about which wall in the room you are going to use. Adding a luxury, designer wallpaper to a wall that is bathed in sunlight all day might fade and you may end up having to keep your curtains closed in order to protect it! If you have a very long room, you might want to wallpaper one or indeed both of the small walls. This will bring in the width of the room making it appear squarer. Alternatively, wallpapering one wall in a very square room will make a room appear longer.
In the same way that using wallpaper on a single or opposing walls will affect the way room size and shape is perceived, using certain patterns will also have a similar effect. The most obvious use of pattern to change the perception of room height would be to use a vertical striped pattern in a room that has low ceilings. The vertical pattern will fool the eye into thinking the ceiling is much higher than it really is. Another example of pattern trickery would be to wallpaper with a horizontally striped pattern in a smaller room. This pattern would then give the appearance that the room is much wider than it really is.
Colour is perhaps the most contentious of issues when choosing wallpaper and there are some obvious things to consider before deciding upon a final design colour. Will the use of a darker coloured paper bring in the room and make it appear smaller? Perhaps that is your goal? Or will a lighter coloured paper expand the perceived size of the room? As well as making sure your final colour choice matches your floor covering and furniture, consider how long you are prepared to actually live with it. If you are the type of person who changes their furniture quite often, think ahead and try to visualise what type of furniture you might be presenting against your new backdrop.
So you have made your mind up; you know which designer wallpaper you want and where you want to hang it so what next? Do you hang the wallpaper yourself or do you call in a professional?
If you have decided on one of the luxury contemporary wallpapers and have never hung wallpaper before – get a professional in! If you have decided on a specialist luxury wallpaper that requires special handling – get a professional in! There really is no point what-so-ever in investing in a quality, designer wallpaper only to try hanging it yourself and possibly doing it badly. If on the other hand you really want to try and hang wallpaper, try putting up lining paper on a ceiling to see if you have got what it takes – if you can do that with ease, there’s a good chance you might well succeed!