How to capture this season's decorating trends
Our guide to the top trends in paint and wallcoverings provides all of the inspiration that you need for a springtime refresh
1) Deep end
Dark colours create warm and intimate living spaces, especially in older properties, where dusky hues enhance the feeling of tradition. They make small rooms seem cosy, bring a touch of glamour to larger ones and, in hallways and staircases, offer a sense of intrigue. To keep rooms energised throughout the day, make sure you have enough lighting and add bright accents to dark schemes. 'Try contrasting colours such as teal and saffron or charcoal and scarlet,' says Sue Hardie, head of design at Osborne & Little. 'Dark colours enhance soft muted colours and deep shades of slate grey and sapphire blue sit beautifully with pale aqua or blush pink.'
'Wild Blackberry' Flat Matt Emulsion, £37.18 for 2.5l, Dulux Heritage
2) Garden inspiration
Valued by interior decorators, lattice patterns ‘are beautifully symmetrical, bringing form and structure to a room,’ says Peter Gomez, head of design for the Zoffany studio. They also make excellent companions to other designs, so most wallpapers include a selection in their collections. Green trellis designs on a white background deliver a fresh conservatory feel, and earthy tones tune into the artisanal theme. Whatever your style, trellis patterns always work, says Gomez. ‘They appeal to the eye’s natural preference for symmetry, so attention is instead drawn to your intended focal points. To make these tranquil patterns the centre of your room, mix with plain colours and subtle textures.’
'Garden Plan' wallpaper, £62 per roll, 'Art of the Garden' wallpapers collection, Sanderson
3) Botanical themes
This year, the diversity of plant life features more strongly than ever as a design motif. ‘Bringing the outdoors in keeps people in touch with nature,’ explains Becky Jones, designer at Clarke & Clarke, ‘and that is especially important for city dwellers.’ In contrast to classic romantic designs, the latest patterns have a more exotic feel. ‘Recent designs focused on jungle greenery,’ says Jones, but the lush exuberance of tropical vegetation looks set to give way to a cooler, more restrained look with the emergence of elegant botanical drawings, stylised Indian prints and Japanese paintings.
'Kyoto Summer' wallpeper, £75 per roll, Fired Earth
4) Creative techniques
A fresh coat of paint is the easy way to revive tired décor but, for a more individual effect, you need to get creative. ‘Colour blocking and artistic detailing are great ways to add interest to your walls,’ says Melanie Adams, founder of Wallpaperdirect. ‘Straight lines are essential to achieving a professional result, so use high quality masking tape, apply it accurately and make sure the paint overlaps it for a crisp finish.’ Rug designer Jennifer Manners also has some useful advice when it comes to colour: 'if you have a colourful rug in a bold pattern as your centrepiece, offsetting it with other objects in softer, more muted tones ensures the rug remains the focal point.’
Upper Wall in 'Temple'; lower wall in 'Monument'; detail in 'New Black', all Pure Flat Emulsion, £46.50 for 2.5l, Paint & Paper Library
5) Picture perfect
Figurative wall decoration has a long history, but pictorial patterns are currently enjoying a resurgence. Mid-century-style block prints will appeal to fans of vintage, toile de jouy patterns to traditionalists, while painterly townscapes, oriental and animal designs abound for fans of the quirkier. ‘When choosing a pictorial wallpaper, consider the scale of the motifs,’ advises Martin Waller of Andrew Martin. Counter-intuitively, he suggests that ‘larger scale prints are best for smaller rooms; smaller patterns work well for feature walls in large rooms.’
'Aesop' wallpaper, £115 per 10m roll, 'The Fable Collection', Linwood
6) Grand illusions
Feature walls have moved on a step as digital printing has made murals an option for all home decorators. ‘Custom sized, they are scaled to fit your space,’ says Richard Wilde, managing director at Murals Wallpaper. ‘You hang the panels from left to right across the area. Check for fit, especially at eye level, and focal points in the image, repositioning if necessary, then trim the edges.’ Designs that mimic natural surfaces – such as stone, aged wood or distressed plaster – are of particular interest right now. Gently coloured and naturalistic, they are less likely to dominate, but are a convincing background for your decorating style.
'Cracked Natural Marble' wallpaper, £25 per square metre, Murals Wallpaper
7) From the archives
Design archives are a rich resource for wallpaper producers. Patterns inspire new papers that combine the enduring appeal of the original with a contemporary freshness. These simplified, rescaled and recoloured patterns are adapted to attract the modern eye, while maintaining the integrity of the parent design. ‘The visual language of interior design is constantly evolving, but our modern tastes and ideas are unquestionably rooted in what’s gone before,’ says Andy Greenall, head of design at Little Greene. ‘We aim to offer traditional wallpaper designs in contemporary colourways, or find beautiful and quirky old patterns that will unite a period building with its younger inhabitants.’
'Upper Brook Street - Minuit' wallpaper, £178 per roll; 'London Wallpapers IV' collection, Little Greene
8) Ethereal pastels
Delicate pastels are easy to live with and a wonderful foil for darker colours and antique furniture in particular. They provide a discreet background against which rich wood tones will glow, but handle them with care, says Helen Shaw, marketing director of Benjamin Moore UK. ‘Ensure the pastels aren’t ‘weak’. They should be strong enough to hold their own against any darker colours you put alongside them.’ Of all the whisper-soft pale tints, pink is a current favourite. New pinks tend towards flesh tones and plaster colour and are able to inject warmth into an environment. Other pastels to watch are yellow and violet, both ideal companions for dark colours.
Walls: 'Heather Solstice'; detailing: 'Palm Night', both Flat Matt Emulsion, £24.49, Dulux
9) Combine and contrast
Using more than one wall colour in a room is a developing trend. It began with the concept of painting a chimney breast or a whole wall in a contrasting colour, but the idea can be extended to zone open plan living areas, link adjoining rooms and give an industrial cohesion. ‘When you’re using two or more colours in the same or neighbouring spaces, it is important to work with hues that are connected tonally to create a sense of flow,’ says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball. ‘Begin with the strongest tone of a colour family, then use a lighter shade in the room beyond and then lighter still in further rooms to give a feeling of greater space and perspective.’
Wall in 'Radicchio' Estate Emulsion; skirting in 'Mole's Breath' Estate Emulsion, both £43.50 for 2.5l; door in 'Purbeck Stone' Estate Eggshell, £24 for 750ml, all Farrow & Ball
10) 20th century revival
The 1970s continues to influence interior style, but if you want to put your original furniture and period-inspired accessories in an authentic setting, start by getting the background right. Wallcoverings made from natural materials – or designed to look like them – were a key feature of many later 20th-century homes and cork, hessian, grasscloth and linen wallcoverings provided texture. ‘At the time there was a breaking of boundaries and loosening of attitudes that may explain a more experimental use of products in decoration,’ says Eleanor John, head of collections at the Geffrye Museum of the Home. ‘The emerging environmental movement, too, could have sparked an interest in natural materials.’
'Wooden Blocks', £19.99 per roll; 'Wood logs', £15.98 per roll, both Albany
Novel uses of colour and pattern on walls can add personality and make a bold statement, as well as influencing space and perspective. From pictorial patterns to colour blocking, the tips in the above gallery will help inject some life into your home this spring.
Words: Hannah Evans