When I first viewed my now current flat back in summer 2020, it was love at first sight: The huge bay windows, the lovely park views and the stunning ceiling roses. Oh yes, and then the wallpaper. With a mustard yellow base and blooming red and blue flowers, it was certainly something to behold, and its vines crept up the stairs and along the entire length of the hallway. There was no missing it, that's for sure. Yet as is the case with many design trends, it was so bad it had almost become… good again? My suspicions were confirmed when I did a survey of Who What Wear's editors, many of whom were ecstatic about its throwback charm, a sentiment which was also echoed by many of my followers on Instagram after I posted a picture on my stories.
Sadly, this story does not end well for the wallpaper, and as much as I loved it, I didn't want to pivot my entire interior scheme to fit with one dominating feature I hadn't even chosen myself. And, if I'm honest, I've never been a florals person. But, it got me thinking about the cyclical nature of interior trends that were once considered 'bad taste' (just think of avocado bathrooms and '70s prints), and wallpaper is definitely a recurring theme in that 'grandma's house' aesthetic. And while these retro styles have the potential to offer any home personality, they should also be handled with care, as it can be all too easy to tip over from chic to archaic.
"People want to have a bit of fun with their interiors and you can really do that with wallpaper. They are willing to be a little braver and are craving bold patterns and colour to inject into their homes. Especially right now in our current climate!" explains Fiona Duke from Fiona Duke Interiors.
Laura Hunter, from No Feature Walls, agrees: "People seem to want more choice, maybe because our choices have been limited over lockdown, and wallpaper allows you to do that. There also seems to be a gradual move away from the minimalistic/L.A. style of living and dressing we've seen over the past five to ten years to something more maximalist, in general."
I figured it was time to bring in the big guns, so I asked a few interiors experts (who really know their stuff) to find out how to make wallpaper work in your home. From picking the best brands to the secret to selecting the right prints, scroll down to see what they said.
The Trends to Watch Out For
"I think the interiors in Emma and Bridgerton will have a knock-on effect. The regency-core/period trend will be big: Think florals, damask etc. Wallpapers that tell stories will be popular, for both interest and personality factor—Toiles seem to be coming out from a lot of big brands at the moment including Timorous Beasties. Personally, I am excited about textured and fabric wallpapers—wall stroking could be a thing in 2021 like it was in the '60s/'70s!"—Laura Hunter
"Bold contemporary prints and natural-inspired designs are still really on-trend right now, such as florals botanicals. Some of my favourite prints are those of William Morris, his designs are timeless and instantly give a room beauty and interest. Ben Pentreath’s collaboration with Morris & Co shows how these original patterns can be slightly reworked and seen in a completely new light but still provide that iconic reference. I am currently using one of his designs in a new project and I can’t wait to see it installed."—Fiona Duke
"I'm personally really loving the slightly retro tartan and gingham wallpapers that are popping up, and I'm planning to line the inside of a vintage cabinet in this."—Matilda Goad, designer and creative consultant
"My favourite large brands include Morris and Co, Sanderson, Colefax and Fowler, Pierre Frey and House of Hackney. For small independent brands, it's Hex and Henbane, Louise Altman Wallpapers, Milola Design."—Hunter
"It would have to be Divine Savages, Woodchip and Magnolia, William Morris, Iona Crawford, Poodle & Blonde, Borastapeter, House of Hackney… there are so many!"—Duke
"Ahh, there are so many I could go on forever, but here are a few: Howe, Pierre Frey, Colefax, Joesf Frank…"—Goad
"There's so much choice, you probably need to narrow it down to brands which suit your style first of all. If you don't know where to start, open your wardrobe and pick out the most dominant print, pattern colour and then look for something in that style.
"If you go to a large department store (when they're open) they will have wallpaper sample books so you can flick through and see which brands suit. Also you should order samples and request larger lengths for papers you are really interested in and hang the length in the room to see how it looks with the light as you would with paint."——Hunter
"Look at the scale of the wallpaper design and the space you are designing. A large space can accommodate a wonderfully large design but in a smaller area can get a little lost and you may not get the full desired effect."—Duke
"Go for something timeless that can evolve as your home does, think of the space it's going into. Smaller busier prints work for really tight awkward spaces."—Goad