10 of the best wallpaper designs and ideas

We reveal imaginative ways to use wallpapers that will fill your home with colour, pattern and personality

Floral wallpaper used on the ceiling in a large, white room
1

USE WALLPAPER ON THE CEILING

Floral wallpaper used on the ceiling in a large, white room
Sakura mural (on walls), £158 per roll; Sakura Sky wallpaper (on ceiling), £32 per m, both Sandberg.

The current trend for decorating a ceiling with a patterned wallpaper has the benefit of making tall ceilings seem a little lower and most rooms feel cosier. Because the design will be seen from all angles, non-directional patterns are best. Opt for small-scale, all-over floral or trellis motifs for a summery feel; stripes for a smart, tailored look; or stars or clouds for a whimsical feature. If you like an industrial look, faux-effect wallpapers that mimic distressed wood or tin tiles are an option. Paint the walls in a toning colour to complete the scheme.

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2

TRY FRAMING WALLPAPER

Large panels of floral wallpaper displayed in frames in an Art Deco bedroom
The Duke wallpaper in Panther, £75.50 per roll, Linwood.

Some wallpaper designs are as well composed and beautifully drawn as a work of art, so why not treat them in the same way? Choose an element of the design and frame it as you would a picture or, for a more permanent solution, paper inside the panels of a traditional door to match the room. For even more decorative impact, use moulding to create panels on plain walls and hang paper within them.

3

CREATE A FOCAL POINT WITH WALLPAPER

Floral wallpaper used to cover a chimney breast in a shaker-style kitchen
Brooke House wallpaper in Cinder, £86 per roll, Little Greene.

Open-plan living areas work best when the space is structured and zoning is a way of using visual signals to indicate different areas. Wallpaper can be a useful tool for this task and companion designs from the same collection will make it easy to create interesting schemes. Use them to suggest changes of mood in a through-room used for lounging and dining, or to produce a bright environment for eating in a family kitchen. Take care to maintain a feeling of continuity, linking the different spaces with colour and pattern.

4

CREATE A FEATURE WALL WITH WALLPAPER

Wallpaper depicting flowers and butterflies is used as a statement wall in a minimal living room
Papillons Birch wallpaper, £195 per roll containing two 3m drops to cover 4.2 sq m, Designers Guild.

The fashion for feature walls may have cooled somewhat, but they are still a great way to add a decorative flourish to your space. They are also useful for trying out a daring colour choice, or to indulge in an expensive wallpaper. Select the wall you wish to highlight carefully. Generally, the fireplace wall is already the room’s focal point and therefore the chimneybreast provides a natural candidate. However, if you plan to go for a daringly bold pattern, using it as the backdrop for the sofa or bed will ensure it has impact when you enter the room without dominating the view.

5

TRY WALLPAPERING ALCOVES

Green, symmetrical wallpaper lines an alcove in a period dining room
Lerena wallpaper, £60 per roll; tablecloth in Gunnersbury, £58 per m, both Sanderson.

Niches either side of a fireplace or elsewhere invite special treatment. Decorate them with patterned wallpaper in a tone darker than the neighbouring walls to make them seem deeper and to highlight the furniture and objects within them.

6

USE WALLPAPER BEHIND SHELVING

Elegant chinoiserie wallpaper lines the back of an antique dresser displaying vintage crockery and glassware
Waters Edge wallpaper in Willow/Rose, £98, GP&J Baker.

Use wallpaper to line the back of a display cabinet, and you’ll give the pieces on its shelves more impact. Choose a design that relates to the colour or theme of the items, grouping them with space between so the pattern is seen.

7

BE DRAMATIC WITH AN OVERSIZED WALL MURAL

An oversized floral wall mural makes a statement in a moody bedroom
Bespoke mural Summer by Mary Moser RA, from £85 per sq m, Surface View.

For ultimate dramatic effect, a mural is hard to beat. Made to order to ft the space exactly, they are digitally printed and hung just like wallpaper. With hundreds of images available, you can easily find a design to suit your room and preference.

8

DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE WALLPAPER IN SMALL ROOMS

Moody wallpaper covers walls and a door in a period living room
Helena wallpaper in Charcoal, £39 per roll, Clarke & Clarke.

There’s no reason for lack of space to cramp your style and, while decorating with light colours and proportionately scaled patterns is good advice for smaller rooms, there is scope to be daring too. Wallpapers in deep, jewel-like tones can create drama and large-scale designs an air of intimacy. Use stripes and trailing linear designs to advantage, placing them vertically to give an illusion of height in the room and horizontally for an impression of breadth. A patchwork of colours will make the space feel crowded, but tricks like papering a flush door to match the walls will give a sense of calm and continuity.

9

CREATE COHESION BY MATCHING WALLPAPER TO UPHOLSTERY FABRIC

Green palm-leaf wallpaper is used in conjunction with a dark green sofa
Palm Jungle wallpaper, £82 per roll; Versailles Grand fabric, £95 per m, both Cole & Son.

Wallpapers and fabrics from co-ordinated ranges make decorating easier, though the resulting scheme could have an off-the-peg, ready-made feel about it. Designs like those shown here come from collections with so many alternative textures, patterns and colourways that you can combine them to create looks that are uniquely your own. Choosing wallpaper with a large pattern draws the eye away from the centre of the room, opening up the space, and a verdant colour scheme ensures a vibrant atmosphere.

10

MAKE A STATEMENT BY USING WALLPAPER ON ALL FOUR WALLS

A bold floral design is used to wallpaper every wall in a large living room with yellow armchairs
Hegemone wallpaper, £99 per roll, Farrow & Ball.
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Pattern on all walls makes a strong statement, so take time to choose the right design. Wallpapers in timeless styles provide a complementary background in traditional rooms furnished with antiques and won’t steal attention away from key pieces. Look for motifs that owe something to the past and have an affinity with vintage but, unless you’re aiming for an authentic look, there is no need to stick to faithful copies. Reinterpretations of paisley, toile de Jouy, florals and medallion patterns will give a refreshing twist.