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When it comes to adding colour, pattern and even texture to your home, wallpaper ideas are pretty hard to beat. Whatever your interior style, there’s a design to suit, from bold geo designs to pretty florals and so much in between. And you don’t need to wallpaper a whole room to enjoy the pop of personality wallpaper offers. Of course walls are the obvious place for wallpaper, but you could also use it to upcycle a dresser, paper a panel to sit behind a sofa or bed, or even add a hit of pattern to your kitchen island.
So when you’re planning your next DIY and decorating project, make sure to give wallpaper ideas the focus they deserve. Be inspired by these imaginative ways to add wallpaper to any room of the house for an easy interiors pick-me-up.
1. Upcycle a chest with a pretty pattern
Make a cheap basic look expensive or revive a dated design with just a single roll of wallpaper. If you love a design but feel it may be too much to wallpaper the whole room in, this is a great way to add drama to your room without overpowering it. Or if you find a design that you love but it’s just a little too pricey, then wallpaper ideas that cover a small piece of furniture could be just the solution. This is also a great way to incorporate the latest wallpaper trends with minimum effort.
Remember to seal the wallpaper with clear matt varnish to prevent peeling.
2. Create a feature wall with wallpapered panelling
For an instant glam upgrade apply a beautiful mural for a living room wallpaper idea. Cut an illustrated scene to fit between panelling. It becomes like a view through a window. Choose a mural that depicts a view or a scene, rather than an all over print for a truly magical feel.
3. Cover a magnet board in a hero paper
Easy DIY wallpaper ideas are always a winner. Swap a scruffy looking pinboard for one covered in a graphic print. All you have to do is trim an off-cut of wallpaper to size and spray glue it to a magnet board. Choose an impactful print for a great way to add interest to a neutral wall or relieve an expanse of deep, block colour.
4. Upgrade a basic bunk bed with jungle print wallpaper
Use wallpaper paste to cover front bed panels with wallpaper for a brilliant bedroom wallpaper idea for a kid’s room. Give the paper a coat of transparent varnish to help prevent knocks and scratches. Pick out a paint colour from the wallpaper and use it to paint the bottom half of a neutral bedroom wall, finishing with a fun scalloped detail.
For a super cool bed transformation make the bottom bunk into a cool hide-away. Remove the duvet and pillow and filling the space with cushions and blankets, books and plenty of fairy lights, for the perfect reading den.
5. Wallpaper the back of a kitchen island
Add a touch of pattern to a pared back scheme by wallpapering the back or a kitchen island. This eye-catching kitchen wallpaper idea is a great way to update an island (or kitchen dresser!). Use a hardwearing clear varnish to seal and protect it or get a made to measure sheet of perspex to layer over it. Black accents for accessories and flooring give this bespoke kitchen island uber-cool vibes.
6. Add pattern to the back of a display cabinet
Select a contrasting colour in a similar design, or go for a similar colour but with a very different pattern scale. This ensures that the cabinet wallpaper will stand out from the wallpaper ideas on the adjacent walls.
First, remove all shelving from the unit and wallpaper the back of the cupboard using wallpaper paste. Place the shelves back in and displaying co-ordinating kitchenware.
7. Paper the ceiling
Run a single roll of paper vertically to the very top of the wall for a dining room wallpaper idea. Continue the paper on the ceiling above the table and back down the wall on the other side of the room. This is a wonderful design statement and a true talking point over dinner.
Paper over picture rails, cornicing and even skirting boards for added impact. Use simple shapes and colours in furnishings and accessories to ensure that the wallpaper is the main focal point.
8. Revive a bland basic with textured wallpaper
Apply Anaglypta or textured wallpaper to the front of the drawers in a simple Ikea chest of drawers using PVA glue. Leave the paper plain white (we advise adding a couple of coats of clear varnish to make it more durable). Or for the colour-lovers out there, paint the paper along with the cabinet a deep colour, like dark green or navy, for added drama. Replace basic handles with black metal rods threaded through leather loops for a stylish alternative to drawer knobs.
9. Put wallpaper in the frame
When looking to inject pattern to walls but you can’t decide on which wallpaper design to favour, this idea is perfect! Create a gallery wall idea by framing samples of your favourite designs instead. Frame samples or offcuts in identical frames, using a white mount for a more formal effect, using different patterns in a similar colour palette to unify the look. Choose simple frames so the patterns on these wallpaper ideas remain the point of focus.
10. Welcome nature in with bold terrarium-inspired designs
Select leafy motifs on wallpaper, from tropical foliage to vintage sketchbook designs, to make a great style statement. It could be a lot for a living room, but great fun for the smallest rooms of the house, like in this cloakroom bathroom wallpaper idea. Stop the pattern becoming overpowering by panelling the lower part of the room and painting in a deep green, pick the paint colour by matching it to a colour found in the wallpaper.
11. Paper above the picture rail
If you’re lucky enough to have high ceilings and picture rails you are at the advantage to use this space to frame a room with a wallpaper pattern – without having to wallpaper entire walls. Many period homes, particularly Victorian and Edwardian will still have the dado rail in most rooms, which helps to break up the space. Choosing bold wallpaper ideas for above or below the dado rail means you can mix and match colours and patterns on the other half or simply go for a cohesive look.
12. Create a piece of art
Fashion a feature wall idea with a difference by framing a section of wallpaper. Either paper directly to the wall and frame, or back the paper. onto a large sheet of MDF to make it a moveable piece – more authentic as a piece of artwork. Paint the frame to match the wall for a more subtle effect. This trick creates a focal point and can be cheaper than artwork. It works best behind a sofa, bed or sideboard to zone or highlight an area.
13. Accentuate an archway
Use wallpaper to make the most of any original features in your home. This designer floral design highlights the alcove and arched architrave surrounding it. In this stunning living room the walls are kept brilliant white to allow the wallpaper to become the main focus of the room, but beautiful shades of green and purple filter out into soft furnishings for a simple yet sophisticated overall scheme.
14. Welcome wallpaper on stairs
Wallpaper ideas in the hallway needn’t be confined to purely walls. We love this idea of introducing pattern and colour on the stair risers. Pieces of this Orla Kiely orange patterned wallpaper have been cut to fit the stair risers, pasted on and varnished to make the paper hardwearing – important in a high traffic area such as the stairs.
Thinking about how to wallpaper stairs is a winning hallway wallpaper idea but also worth considering in a newly converted loft space.
15. Get creative with recess spaces
Use wallpaper creatively to fill void spaces. This beautiful bedroom demonstrates how striking wallpaper ideas can act in place of artwork – used above a bed in the space between built-in wardrobes. This space would otherwise feel redundant, but instead it now anchors the whole scheme of the decor, thanks to the matching blue and green tones on the bedding and light fittings below.
It also helps to create the impression of a DIY headboard idea, and add a focal point to the room.
16. Wallpaper wardrobe doors
Wallpaper is not just for walls. Use the design of your choice, to compliment the decor in any room where you wish to use this idea. Simply hang the lengths of wallpaper directly to the front of the doors. In in order for this to work best the doors need to be smooth, meaning no decorative beading or framing.
17. Introduce pattern to wall panelling
In this grey hallway idea the staircase panels are brought to life with the help of a decorative migrating geese wallpaper. The wall panelling is painted in a coordinating blue grey to keep the look cohesive. This idea is not for the faint hearted, as each section needs to be measured and cut to size – but as you can see the results are well worth it. on more standard wall panelling the task will be easier, as the sections will all be the same so you can cut strips in bulk.
18. Be creative with a bookcase design
A great way to make an impact is with trompe l’oeil wallpaper. A bookcase-themed wallpaper will breathe new life into the room and add interest to an otherwise dull corner. This type of design is perfect when planning how to wallpaper a feature wall. While your book collection may have been whittled down in favour of e-books in recent years, with a gorgeous bookcase-print wallpaper, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the traditional look of books in a quiet reading corner.
19. Cheat a dreamy headboard panel with wallpaper
This brilliant bedroom wallpaper idea fashions a feature wall-cum-headboard using wallpaper! Make your own boutique-hotel-style design feature by hanging a couple of drops of a striking wallpaper behind the bed. To really add a design wow factor create neat raised edges with wooden battens covered in matching fabric – but this finish is optional, if you want less work.
20. Add a background behind open shelving
Give any storage space a decor uplift with the addition of a pretty wallpaper behind the units. All the better, as seen above, if the storage unit is backless – meaning the fashionable paper acts as a decorative backdrop to hanging clothes and accessories.
21. Contrast colour with a feature wall
If choosing to decorate with a powerful paint colour, such as this olive green bedroom idea, a patterned wallpaper can be just the tonic to create a contrasting feature wall. where colour would normally play the star role on the feature wall, instead add a characterful wallpaper design to complete the look. This paper features a design with illustrated house in soft grey and white, to compliment a white ceiling and white painted floorboards.
22. Set the scene with a mural
A children’s room is the ideal place to choose a wallpaper mural that fills a whole wall, with a scene that transports the room to another setting. Whether it be a fairy tale woodland or a tropical jungle the statement image will delight little ones, igniting their imaginations. In addition to a bedroom this style of wallpaper is ideal for a playroom too.
23. Frame a fireplace
Alcoves beside a fireplace are the ideal walls to hang a decorative wallpaper design. The set back walls are just crying out for a statement wallpaper design to give them prominence. A design either side of a fireplace helps to frame the main point of focus. It’s a great alternative if you’re thinking about how to wallpaper a chimney breast.
In this stunning living room above a panelled wall helps to enhance the chimney breast and back the scheme stand out all the more. The blue wall colour is picked up within the wallpaper design to ensure it coordinates beautifully.
24. Divide a wall with pattern
Avoid overpowering a room by using your wallpaper only up to a point. Taking it up to the level of a traditional picture rail – rather than all the way to the ceiling – and keeping a clapboard finish above the rail height helps to keep the pattern in check without reducing its impact.
25. Fake a brick wall with wallpaper
Get the look of an industrial-style brick wall without the hassle of having to build one, simply choose a realistic looking wallpaper. A trompe l’oeil design can cleverly be used to trick the eye into thinking the brick pattern is the real thing (just don’t get too close!). The outcome adds depth and interest to a room.
You’ll find beautiful modern examples that depict wall panelling ideas, weathered wood and quirky designs such as luxurious button-back upholstery for walls! A smart idea to fake it in any room.
26. Hang stripes horizontally to widen a space
Just because a room is small doesn’t mean it has to be filled with neutral tones. If used correctly, a bold pattern can help to make a small space feel more impactful. Stripes hung horizontally is a savvy decorating tactic to trick the eye into thinking the room is wider than it really is. This super stylish black and white bedroom idea sports effortlessly sports a black and white stripped design on the far wall, leaving the remaining walls in a forgiving soft shade of grey.
27. Wallpaper above tiles
Fancy adding pattern to your bathroom but worried about wallpaper getting wet? Use this idea to elevate the pattern above a tiled section.Tile up to the point where splashes might reach, then wallpaper to the ceiling to ensure your design is safe and dry. It’s a smart look and is more subtle than papering an entire wall – if you’re unsure about taking the plunge, so to speak, this might be the way to go about things.
28. Make artwork of your chosen design
Love bold wallpaper but not sure about committing to a whole feature wall? Introduce a bold pattern into your home office or study area with wallpapered pinboards. If you’ve found a beautiful wallpaper design but don’t want to decorate a whole room this is the wallpaper idea for you.
Use the wallpaper as wall art panels. You can paper directly to the wall to commit entirely to the look. This will create a striking feature above a desk or sideboard.
29. Include the ceiling in the scheme
Why leave the ceiling out? For many years now the powers that be in the interiors world have been telling us how fashionable wallpapering the 5th wall is. Would you be so bold? We’d say it works if the room is big enough to allow, in an already small space a wallpapered ceiling could overwhelm – making it feel even smaller. For best results choose a paper in light colour choice to ensure the space still feels bright and airy.
What can I do with one roll of wallpaper?
Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor Nicky Phillips shares her favourite quick and easy ideas that use a single roll of wallpaper:
- Cover box files or binder files to coordinate with the decor of a home office
- Back a display cabinet or an open shelving unit. Mount and frame patterned wallpaper like unique pieces of art
- Use as high-quality gift wrap, you can sometimes find a roll of wallpaper is less expensive than a roll of quality gift wrap
What is the difference between wallpaper and a mural?
Wallpaper is bought on a roll with a fixed width, usually approx 68cm in width and 4.5meters in length. A mural can be ordered to fit, so the measurement of a complete wall can be given so that the illustration or design fits perfectly end to end.
What are the disadvantages of wallpaper?
You will probably find that you need an expert tradesman to apply wallpaper. In rooms with a high moisture content, like bathrooms and kitchens, may cause wallpaper to peel and lift.
Wallpaper is less durable than paint and cannot be easily cleaned or scrubbed. If wallpaper is damaged a quick repair isn’t easy, stripping the whole wall and re-papering is often the only option.
Wallpaper is not easily changed if you become bored of it and can be an expensive mistake to change if you are unhappy with how it looks. But it’s definitely worth experimenting with some of these ideas that use wallpaper in smaller doses. That way you can enjoy the colour and pattern wallpaper offers, but it isn’t too much of a headache when you fancy a change!
Additional words by Nicky Phillips
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