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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition