Ask Alice

Do you have an interiors dilemma? Consult our resident specialist
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The Independent Online

Q. I'm looking for some "retro-style" wallpaper for my sitting room, but the designs I have found are all very expensive. Do you know any reasonably priced alternatives?
John Huffington, West Norwood

Q. I'm looking for some "retro-style" wallpaper for my sitting room, but the designs I have found are all very expensive. Do you know any reasonably priced alternatives?
John Huffington, West Norwood

A. You must try Johnny Tapete ( www.johnny-tapete.de), a marvellous German site which specialises in European wallpaper designs from 1950-1970. The company's range includes authentic colourful graphic patterns as well as some hilariously depressing designs reminiscent of Rising Damp. All the wallpapers are original end-of-lines, so the stock is variable, and some lines are only available in small quantities. Prices per roll: from €18-49 (£13-35).

Q. I've got a small and window-less bathroom, and want to know how to make it look bigger and lighter. What do you suggest?
Ella Davies, Chiswick

A. You need as many reflective surfaces as possible. My suggestion would be to tile one or two whole walls - perhaps even the ceiling - with mirrored glass, which will look fantastic (though it will involve a lot of cleaning and give you a nasty surprise every time you take a shower). You could also fit glass panels in the door. Keep the colours as light as possible.

Q. I have a large wooden kitchen table which has been painted different colours over the years. At the moment it needs repainting, and I wondered whether you had any interesting ideas about how I might liven it up?
Daniel Constable, Banbury

A. I have a table in my basement that I have finished with linoleum. I have worked a pattern into the design in five different colours, with the designs cut out and inserted into the background colour. You could try this, but if you're not a particularly practical person, simply use one solid sheet of lino or tiles in two different colours. Glue it on the table using flooring adhesive, pressing it down with a roller. The result will be smooth, tactile and great to work on, too. Another idea: create a collaged surface, using paper or transparent coloured cellophane (from www.homecrafts.co.uk). Once complete, trap your design beneath a sheet of 6mm safety glass, cut to size with ground edges.

Q. I have a hairline crack in my dining room, which has broken the wallpaper. This is a recurring problem that I thought I had solved when I decorated about five years ago. My house is about 90 years old and semi-detached.
Linda English, e-mail

A. If the crack has reappeared after careful repair, it may suggest an underlying problem. I assume that your wall is the original plaster wall of the same age as your house. If this is so, it is possible that the lathe board has come loose from the studding behind it. This can be repaired, but you'll need to get advice from your builder. It is possible that a "stretchier" filler might do the trick; try Big Boy body filler (£3.99 for 600ml, available from www.screwfix.com) with high elasticity, which will allow for a certain amount of movement.

Design dilemma? E-mail askalice@independent.co.uk

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