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
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence