Shopping: You need a good pasting

Home decorating is about to get complicated again. A lick of white paint on your walls is no longer enough. By Dominic Lutyens

Wallpaper has been dismissed as a naff migraine-inducing style aberration for the past decade. So, brace yourselves Anaglypta-phobes: not only is wallpaper being rehabilitated, but many designers are revelling in loud prints.

Sharon Elphick's bold, screen-printed Prefab Stripe wallpaper features close-ups of tower blocks (pounds 120 per roll, which covers five square metres). It's a spin-off of her paintings of high-rise buildings in New York, Paris, London and Berlin.

Ella Doran's bespoke designs smother entire walls with a single, digitally enlarged photo of a red Gloriosa lily (pounds 60 per square metre). And Ottilie Stevenson has a dogtooth check design, Houndstooth - think Chanel on acid, or Cecil Beaton's larger-than-life sets for My Fair Lady (pounds 20.50 per 10- metre roll). She also sells a Seventies-style paper, Variee Stripe, in deep red, forest green, terracotta and cream. "Today's wallpapers are definitely Seventies- inspired," says Elphick, by which she means the disco-dizzy, not back-to-nature Seventies.

There's no danger of these wallpapers recalling twee, sage-green Laura Ashley sprigs or William Morris acanthus leaves, circa 1975. So far so hip. But how best to hang today's wallpapers? Opinions are divided on the subject. Fill an entire room with a lairy pattern and others will surely admire your postmodern aplomb, yet there's every danger your room will shrink, optically speaking, to the size of a broom cupboard.

Others prefer to use bold patterns more tentatively - as "feature wallpaper" - papering small areas only. Stevenson, who designed for Osborne & Little for five years before launching her wallpaper range, favours an all-or- nothing approach. "I'd paper the whole room. Putting it on one wall is horrible. Hang pictures on wallpaper and it doesn't look so dominant. It looks calmer than stark white walls." Doran and Elphick's response to that would be "There's no accounting for taste".

"I prefer wallpaper on one wall. It would be a nightmare to paper a whole room," says Doran, whose powerful single-image designs bravely break with the tradition of a repeat pattern. That said, Doran, who also papers walls with shoals of fish, asparagus, artichokes and pebbles (from pounds 50 per square metre) and plans to bring out fruity patterns in May, admits that she would love "to let rip in a big space".

Nineties open-plan living and loft-dwelling, says Elphick, partly explain why wallpaper is back: "People have got the space for an interesting paper without it dominating everything."

Elphick began designing wallpaper partly because she sensed it was about "to reinvent itself". Seventies retro aside, she sees its comeback as symptomatic of a greater interest in interiors in recent years. "Magazines like Wallpaper* are full of the stuff." She also sees her wallpaper, derived from her more expensive canvases, as a way of selling "art on a roll". Elphick is currently exhibiting her work at the cutting-edge east-London furniture shop Same (until 9 May).

So much for Seventies-inspired excess. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, BBC Changing Rooms' ruffle-shirted dandy, has a surprisingly measured take on it all. "Wallpaper has to be used simply. You have the option of papering one wall, which looks quite Seventies. But something I've done, which works well, is not to let the paper hit the corners of the room. You leave a margin of about three or four inches so the wallpaper exists as a panel."

When applying this idea, contrary to Nineties decorating orthodoxy, don't chuck out the chintz. "Tiny sprigs aren't going to work," he believes, but "big chintzy flowers, by Laura Ashley, say, with a contrasting painted border, would look in keeping with the up-and-coming trend for Fifties florals. The more modern-looking florals look great with today's Fifties- style, splayed-leg furniture. I think most British homes work well with wallpaper. In Britain, most of us live in houses built between 1880 and 1940, and these lend themselves very well to it."

For interior designer Kelly Hoppen, high priestess of neutrals, eye-popping wallpapers are anathema: "Wallpapers are a thing of the past unless they're very plain," she proclaims. "I think people see bright colour as unnecessary now. At home I've used a Donghia silver, crunched paper [pounds 68 per square metre]."

Llewelyn-Bowen believes that fans of brash wallpaper are likely to stand their ground: "We've all got used to rooms being unpatterned. But people are looking at pattern again and thinking it's a good way to decorate... The key is to use one pattern, rather than doing the whole pattern-on- pattern thing that you used to find in the Eighties. Whatever you do, never use a wallpaper border," he concludes with a mephistophelean cackle. "Anyone who does deserves to rot in hell!"

Contacts: Donghia (0171-823 3456); Ella Doran (0171-375 1466); Laura Ashley (0990 622 116); Ottilie Stevenson (0171-739 7321); Same (0171-247 9992); Sharon Elphick (0171-813 3632)

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high