Decorating a Room with Wallcoverings
As well as the many different paint effects, there are many other wall and ceiling coverings which you can use to create an interesting foundation for a decorative scheme. Wallpapers, paper-backed fabric and hessian (burlap), tiles, wood panelling and mirrors can all be applied relatively easily to a surface, adding a textural dimension often lacking in painted finishes.
The range of printed wallpapers is immense — not only in terms of colour and pattern but also in terms of cost, quality and practicability. In general, the cheaper papers tend to be thin and difficult to hang; also, they do not last long. Higher-quality papers are thicker and better-printed. At the extreme end of the market, there are very expensive hand-printed papers, including reproductions of antique designs printed from the original blocks.
Aside from plain white lining paper, which is designed to provide an even surface for decorating, the special attraction of wallpaper lies in the pattern. The range of designs available has enlarged considerably in recent years: it includes traditional varieties, such as Regency stripes and floral motifs, as well as cheerful figurative prints for children’s rooms and sophisticated modern geometrics. Many papers are coordinated with fabrics and wall tiles and some are available with contrasting or complementary friezes.
All printed papers are treated to repel moisture and promote maintenance, but the degree of protection varies. ‘Spongeable’ papers can be wiped down; ‘washable’ papers, coated with plastic film, can be washed with water. Vinyls — wallpapers coated with thick plastic film — can actually be scrubbed; they are designed for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
The chief advantage of textured papers is that they are useful for covering irregular surfaces. These relief papers are generally embossed with wood and pulp, and are designed to be painted. Other types include the once-fashionable flock paper with a cut-pile surface and relief simulations of panelling or plasterwork.
Other Paper-backed Coverings
Today you can obtain hessian (burlap), grasses and other natural fibres with paper backing, allowing you to hang them like ordinary wallpaper. Often in neutral shades, these provide a subtle textural interest but tend to be difficult to clean and not very robust.
Order of Papering a Room
There is a correct order for papering a room if you are to disguise any slight overlaps which may occur. For papers with small or random patterns, it is usual to start in the corner adjacent to the window wall and work away from the source of natural light towards the door, so that overlaps do not cast shadows and are thus less immediately noticeable.