Overcoming wallpaper woes

Eight tips for selecting the best wallpaper for you and your chosen room

I've tweaked my 'about' page many times over the past three and a half years but one sentence has remained the same since the very beginning - 'I spend my free time out and about exploring the Welsh countryside or pouring over interiors magazines and trying, unsuccessfully, to hang wallpaper ... it defeats me every time.'

Wallpaper. My nemesis.

At one point, I swore that never would I put paper on a single wall in my home. I mean, why would you with so many amazing colours of paint out there?! But then again, why would anyone want to paint the majority of their house white with so many amazing colours of paint out there?!


But I've relaxed my stance somewhat over the past few months (not on coloured paint, though ... it's still white all the way here). My littlest's room features quite possibly the best children's wallpaper in the world, and that has spurred me on to consider it for mine and Paul's bedroom, too.

Having spent the past month dithering over colours, patterns, textures and designs, I've finally narrowed it down to my chosen one. And that's after buying eight rolls of another and then sending them back.

Before I reveal which one will soon grace my bedroom walls (take a look at the photo above and see if you can guess what I went for), I wanted to share my top tips for choosing wallpaper. It's a mini guide for all of you out there who are just like me ... wallpaper novices or wallpaper-averse.

Here goes:

Always request a sample

Always request a sample, even if you have to pay for it. And the bigger the better, too. I popped in to Laura Ashley in Chester having seen a couple of styles on their website that I liked, and I ended up coming home with ones I'd completely dismissed when looking online.

The woodblock leaves sample hadn't wowed me on my laptop but ended up being one of my three favourites (out of the million or so that I collected). A small image on a screen in no way compares to the real thing ... and it's nice to feel the texture and quality of the wallpaper, too. 

Pin/tape the samples to your wall

It's well known that paint colours look different depending on the time of day and how much light is available in a room. It's the same with wallpaper. My samples looked very different on the dining table in our quite dark kitchen compared to the coffee table in our uber bright living room, and different again in the bedroom which sits somewhere between the two. Pin or tape up the samples in the room in which you're considering them for to give you the best idea of how they'll look and feel.

Eight tips for selecting the best wallpaper for you and your chosen room

Move the samples around

Once you've pinned your samples up and defined your shortlist, move them to different spots in the room. Next to the window, behind the bed, opposite the bed, above your bedside table ... anywhere your eyes are naturally drawn to. This will help you to picture what a full room or full wall will look like when papered.

When I placed my final three opposite the bed, my third favourite suddenly took first place, as I realised that it's the one I want to look at when I wake up. True story!

Leave them up for a couple of weeks

Leave the wallpaper samples up for a couple of weeks to see if any grow on you or a particular design stands out above the others. As I mentioned, I ordered eight rolls of the one I was initially drawn to only to opt for another after I'd left the sample up for a while and moved them around the room.

Look at the samples in isolation

As well as comparing the samples, look at them in isolation, too. I like bold, bright prints which make more muted tones fade in to the background. But when placed on a wall without those more defined colours to compete with, the slightly paired back designs come in to their own.

Eight tips for selecting the best wallpaper for you and your chosen room

Compare and contrast with fabric swatches

I love Pinterest but I love a real life, touchable mood board even more. If bedding, curtains or material catch my eye, I tend to order (and stockpile) fabric swatches. Knowing what colours and textures I like in other elements around our home really helped me to understand which wallpaper would work not just in our bedroom but in the house as a whole.

Search for sales

When I finally decided on my favourite wallpaper, I did a quick search and found it stocked in a fair few shops ... both online and in actual bricks and mortar ones. Spending half an hour comparing prices led to me finding it £15 per roll cheaper in the sixth shop I looked at compared to the first. And needing eight rolls, that's a not too insignificant saving. If you can, shop around.

Hire a professional

This last point might not be necessary for those of you with better papering skills than I, but if you want a premium finish, pay a professional. I notice every little detail and would rather save up and get the job done properly than risk it myself. I trust in my painting skills, but papering? No way!

So have you guessed which wallpaper I opted for? Any thoughts?

Well, when I initially settled on my favourite three, woodblock leaves from Laura Ashley was my standout favourite followed by herbarium from Boråstapeter and then spring garden, also from Boråstapeter, and it was the Laura Ashley one that I ordered the eight rolls of.

After moving the beautiful spring garden sample around the bedroom and seeing it in isolation, it completely captured my heart, and will be the one gracing our walls very soon.

Did you get it right? Which is your personal favourite of the three? Let me know!

Eight tips for selecting the best wallpaper for you and your chosen room