Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang It

So everyone seems to agree, the feature wall of striking wallpaper is dead. Or is it? Personally I still think it works if done right. I touched on it last week when I wrote about interior design mistakes, so I’d like to expand on this a little. First of all, there are no hard and fast rules about where to hang wallpaper, or whether to use it at all. Like everything else it’s all down to personal preference, but there are one or two things to consider before rushing out and buying 3, 4, or 5 rolls. Especially the architectural style of the house.

Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang it - cottage style from Farrow and Ball

Perfect small scale cottage style from Farrow and Ball. Product code Atacama BP5804, £86 per roll.

Country Cottage

The style of house cannot be ignored. It’s one of the first considerations for all decorating decisions and wallpaper is one of them. I would never hang a modern, oversized jungle print in a quaint country cottage for example. The scale would be all wrong for starters. Cottages tend to have lower ceilings, beams (if you’re very lucky), and lots of nooks and crannies. Much better to hang a small repeat wallpaper and paper over every wall. Traditional in style and better suited to the dimensions of the room. Add more modern furniture and you have a very comfortable room that gives a nod to its origins but doesn’t look old fashioned.

Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang it - don't be afraid to wallpaper the kitchen

Cole and Sons Palm Jungle in my kitchen.

Contemporary Houses

Contemporary houses need bolder styles of wallpaper to introduce drama and interest into boxy, plain rooms. But try to think out of the box (is that a pun?) Don’t for example hang wallpaper on the longest wall in a narrow room. This is only going to make it look longer and narrower. Why not paper the two end walls instead? If you happen to have a chimney breast in the room (some contemporary rooms do have them) instead of papering the breast, try papering the two walls either side instead. Wallpaper on the chimney breast alone always looks puny. Like you couldn’t afford to do the rest of the room. And don’t shy away from using wallpaper in the kitchen or bathrooms either. The unexpected surprise always adds a wow factor.

Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang it - above and below the picture rail?

Above and below the picture rail from Farrow and Ball. Product Code Hegemone BP5702, £99 per roll.

1930’s Houses

I’ve lived in this period of house and it had it’s pro’s and con’s decorating wise. One lovely original feature was the picture rail. But there was always the question of whether to paper up to the ceiling or up to the rail itself. Decisions. But in hindsight I think it depends on the wallpaper you choose. A small pattern repeat can end at the picture rail, especially if you paint a complementary colour above it. If you are going for a larger scale pattern repeat, it’s probably best to continue past the rail and up to the ceiling. Whether you decide to stick to one wall or paper over them all is entirely up to you.

Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang it - either side of the chimney breast?

Either side of the chimney breast by Farrow and Ball. Product Code Helleborus BP5605, £115 per roll.

Victorian Houses

Aren’t you the lucky one! This is probably the one architectural style where anything goes. The generous proportions of the rooms can allow for a lot more experimentation in my view. Bold colours, dark, daring patterns, or bright, light and cheery, it will all look great. The windows tend to be larger too which also gives a lot more leeway over choice. Wallpapers that take their inspiration from traditional styles look sensational but so do contemporary designs. All of the above considerations apply too, regarding picture rails, chimney breasts and scale.

Which Wallpaper and Where to Hang it - above the dado rail

Above the dado rail with painted paneling below from Cloudberry Living. It’s Boråstapeter Scandinavian Designers 11 Wallpaper Vertigo 1774 – 1777, £59 per roll.


There’s just one more thing I’d like to add, and this is just my personal opinion. Don’t overdo it. Unless you’re an out and out maximalist and love a riot of colour and pattern, choose which paper where, wisely. I love patterned wallpaper but I like to have some plain walls in between to give the eyes a rest. That’s not an excuse to slide back into old habits of just having a feature wall of striking wallpaper. Rather a suggestion to have one plain room in between. Maybe wallpaper above a dado rail and paint below. Or a painted hall with papered rooms leading off of it.

I think you get the picture.


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  1. Reply

    Stacey Sheppard

    March 14, 2018

    I can honestly say that it never even crossed my mind to consider the period of the property before choosing wallpaper. We have a feature wall in our livingroom. We chose to do just one wall because it’s quite a bold wallpaper in a small room so more of it would have been a bit overwhelming. I did wonder about the picture rail though and whether to paper above it. Can you paper above it on just one wall or would that be weird?

    • Reply


      March 14, 2018

      You did the right thing Stacey. I would only paper above the picture rail on one wall if you did the same with the paint colour on the other walls. If the other walls are white I’d probably stop the paper below the picture rail. x

  2. Reply


    March 13, 2018

    I LOVE a wallpaper feature wall! I totally agree with you on your last point about not overdoing it, too. We just wallpapered in our guest bath at the beach house and we made sure that we only papered above the chair rail and kept the fresh white tile below so that the eye had a breather! xx

    – Will

    • Reply


      March 13, 2018

      Exactly it. Great minds think alike Will. xx

  3. Reply


    March 13, 2018

    Some fabulous tips here. It’s quite a commitment wallpapering a room so your advice is invaluable.

    • Reply


      March 13, 2018

      Aww, thanks Lucy 🙂


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