Home & Garden

7 decisions I make when choosing wallpaper

I adore wallpaper and find reasons to use it all over the house, including in kitchens and bathrooms. There are so many choices and its impact is so utterly varied that it can be overwhelming knowing where to start when it comes to choosing a wallpaper design. In the right space, wallpaper ideas shouldn’t dominate a room but rather form part of its overall impact.

Interior Designer

Henriette Von Stockhausen

Henriette von Stockhausen

Henriette studied at City & Guild of London Art Schools and gained a master’s degree at Sotheby’s Institute where she honed her appreciation and love for antique furniture and decorative design from 17th Century through to 20th Century. She was also very much involved in country house sales which fed her appetite for beautiful architecture of historical interest. Deciding to move into interior design, Henriette studied at the prestigious Inchbald School of Design. On graduating she gained experience with leading interior designers including Stephen Ryan who had been head of David Hicks Design. She also had a spell in theatre design which enabled her to indulge her more flamboyant side and made her realise just how much she relishes any challenge.

1. I use wallpaper in unexpected places

Kitchen with grasscloth wallpaper

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

Many people are understandably nervous about using wallpapers in kitchens, but I love doing this – kitchen wallpaper ideas immediately take the edge off all the hard finishes in the room and helps to absorb sound. 

Some kitchens suit a textured finish such as a grass-cloth wallpaper (above), but I’ve also used Marthe Armitage (opens in new tab)’s wonderful Pagodas for a kitchen (below). 

Light blue wallpaper and AGA, wooden dining table

Marthe Armitage wallpaper

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

Bathrooms are another favorite space to wallpaper for the same reason: bathroom wallpaper ideas act as a foil for all the solid elements.

Light blue wallpaper, flower design

(Image credit: VSP Interiors )

It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that many wallpapers today are printed on much more durable papers than ever before so check the suitability before drawing any conclusions. 

Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend using a silk paper in an area of high traffic, but many designs can be wiped down which means they can work really well for hallways, for instance. This is an area where I’m particularly fond of using wallpaper  – especially in the case of large country-house hallways. If there isn’t lots of art to hang, patterned hallway wallpaper ideas work really well instead.

Pink diamond shape wallpaper patter, red cushion chairs and lampshades

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

2. I choose purposefully between pattern and plain

Wildlife and tree landscape wallpaper, pool table

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

As a general rule of thumb, I believe that a larger scale pattern is better suited to a large room but it’s not always the case and sometimes these judgements can only be made when standing in the room itself and taking note of the natural light. 

I definitely don’t discount using patterns at all in small rooms. In a funny way, pattern can make a small space feel larger. I firmly believe you can’t go wrong with any of Robert Kime’s selections of small-scale designs – they are brilliant. These also look great in the backs of bookcases to add another layer of interest – providing they aren’t stuffed with books and are used more to display objects.

Blue wallpaper, white framed mirror and fireplace

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

Sometimes, I will opt for a plain design when what’s required is a bit of depth and movement in the walls. For those wanting a more lived-in look, I recommend Turners Textures by Lewis & Wood. It’s a wallpaper that gives the effect of a plastered wall or a specialist paint finish.

3. I go for all over pattern to create a distinct effect

Climbing flower wallpaper, exposed wooden ceiling beams

Indienne paper by Lewis & Wood

(Image credit: VSP interiors)

For small bedrooms ideas – and in particular those up in the eaves where it’s hard to delineate between the top of the wall and the start of the ceiling – I like to go for an all over look with everything from the curtains to the paper in the same pattern.