How wallpaper got cool again – and the best patterns for 2021


Whether it’s Carrie Johnson’s infamous Soane-ing from the Downing Street apartment, to the fact that “it looks really good on Instagram” (as interior designer Brandon Schubert points out) , or simply that after closings we’re all desperate to tone down the monotony of our surroundings – wallpaper is experiencing a serious renaissance.

But before you identify a potential feature wall and order enough palm leaf scrolls to cover it, take a break. There are new collections to consider; new ways to use it that are right for you right now; there is mostly variety.

Leading UK decorators use vintage-style flowers in strong hues like Jean Monro, Colefax and Fowler, along with stripes, pretty block prints, paper-backed fabrics and textured burlap. With the right varnish, or a toughened glass shield, kitchens and bathrooms are as ripe for a wallpaper remodel as a bedroom (you might even save money on tiling).

But first, the pattern and color rules. A large motif may dominate the furniture in front of it; a smaller pattern provides a background. Contrast, according to Schubert, is also essential: the difference between the lightest and darkest colors in the pattern. “Low contrast wallpapers look calmer, even though they are a stronger color,” he explains.

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