The Power of Paper
William Morris, the renowned textile designer, recognised the importance of wallpaper, quoting: “Whatever you have in your rooms think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home, and if you do not make some sacrifices in their favour you will find your chambers have a kind of makeshift, lodging-house look about them.”.
In my experience with design consultations, I find clients to be resolute that they either are or are not wallpaper people. Perhaps this polarisation harks back to the 16th century when wallpaper began to appear in homes as an alternative to the elaborate tapestries or hand-painted murals which only the élite could afford. At the time, wallpaper could be considered a bit middle class. Maybe a stigma lurks in the back of our minds, like so many old traditions that we neglect to question along the way. Wallpaper has continued to sway in and out of fashion over time but, whatever your opinions, history has shown that its appeal is resilient. Today, wallpaper stands at the forefront of interior design brands in an abundance of different materials and styles, a culmination of centuries of creating and reworking historical designs. I challenge preconceived concepts of the medium - if you are adamant that wallpaper is not for you, consider that maybe you just haven’t met the right type of paper yet.
Personally, I am a fan of this ingenious invention. It can have a miraculous effect on interiors and will stand the test of time, or it can be changed regularly without spending a fortune. In the same way that a fresh coat ofpaint can breathe new life into a space, wallpaper can completely transform a room’s look and feel, transporting you to a different environment of your own choosing. When it came to redecorating my own bedroom, I wanted to create a feeling of escape, a relaxing boudoir evocative of a sumptuous hotel room somewhere exotic and hinting towards a different era in time. Enter House of Hackney, a British design brand that takes wallpapers to a whole new level. They are known for recreating traditional designs for a new generation, including a reimagined collection of richly coloured William Morris designs. In addition, their wallpapers are made in the UK using PVC-free, eco-friendly materials and they promise minimal environmental impact at every stage of production. I chose their floral design ‘Limerence’, a word evocative of a near-obsessive form of romantic love. In House of Hackney’s own words, "Limerence evokes the tropical climes and botanical vistas of Sri Lanka” and, by choosing a dark, cosy colourway to aid relaxation at the end of a busy day, the bedroom really has become a welcoming sanctuary. Even my mother, who was definitely not a wallpaper person until she set eyes on the finished design, has been converted.
When considering wallpaper, there is often the question whether to cover entire rooms or single walls. This depends on the design you choose, the size and shape of the room, and the amount of natural light it gets during the day. If you want to cover every wall in a small space, perhaps consider a simple design. A more elaborate and intense theme may be too dominant on all walls but could be used more sparingly, for example around a fireplace, with similar or complementary colours on other walls. Even consider wallpapering your ceiling - you don’t have to be restricted by your surroundings; make them work for you. Entertain the possibility of dressing your wallcovering up or down and don’t rule out pairing a lavish design alongside a feature such as an industrial brick wall. If anything, this juxtaposition will enhance the appearance of a space, especially if complemented with other items of similar style within the room.
I agree with William Morris: walls are important. In the same way that we justify spending money on a painting, investing in a good quality paper that you will gaze upon for years to come should be a priority. I encourage you take the step and have fun adding a touch of class to your interiors by using the power of paper. Photo credits: Houseofhackney.com
Published in the June 2018 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk