Gone are the days when redecoration meant a quick slapping-on of magnolia emulsion. Now our internal walls are being treated to the very best in coverings, be it eco-friendly pigment, textured and hand-printed paper, or the latest paint technology.

Paint is still a popular and easy option, and gives quick results. Diane Moore, Director of Nutshell Natural Paints in Exeter, believes that the enduring popularity of paint is down to its ease of use and versatility: “You can easily repaint over the top, as well as still being a blank canvas for wall art.”

Keeping the walls light in colour with warm tones, as well as using plain fabrics and carpets, can help rooms feel spacious, and the hue of the paint is an important decision. Diane’s customers are drawn to the off-whites and cream shades, but the growing popularity of a grey palette continues: “There are many different shades and depths of grey and these bring a contemporary look to any room.”

Melanie Leando, Head of Marketing for Susie Watson Designs, agrees. This national brand, with a Salcombe shop, is seeing a high demand for paint: “We’ve just launched three beautiful new colours in Linen Grey, Swedish Grey and Olive Grove, as the Scandinavian look continues to be very popular,” she says.

The move towards choosing classic, elegant colours ensures the longevity of a scheme. Melanie recommends painting a whole wall, or a very large test patch, to ensure the colour is right, particularly as different room areas, affected by the light and shade from windows and corners, create different finishes and tones.

Karin Frances, Interior Design Consultant from Barnstaple, advocates using emulsion as a quick and easy way of updating an interior scheme. She is finding a move towards subtle shades of blues and pinks that create a calm, relaxing finish: “This allows a feeling of wellbeing, energy, and calm. Rose quartz adds a touch of serenity, while baby blue is soft, calm and light.”

The composition of the paint is an important factor, and can even help to protect the fabric of the building, as well as the health of the decorator. Nutshell Paints offers a healthy, non-toxic alternative to conventional paint products. The emulsions are allergy-free with no toxic fumes, no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and are completely free of vinyl resins and harmful petrochemical solvents. “Your paint finish must be hard-wearing and preferably washable in whatever room you choose to paint. Being microporous is a must for many wall surfaces such as cob and lime plaster, as it lets the wall and surface breathe,” advises Diane.

Eco paints are growing in popularity all the time, and Diane is thrilled to see professional decorators choosing to use the harmless and healthy alternative: “Eco paints have improved endlessly and we continue to get compliments from first-time users who are transformed.”

However, if you prefer the luxurious, traditional feel and finish that wallpaper provides, then Melanie from Susie Watson Designs is finding that trellis patterns and botanical designs are de rigueur. “Our Apple Blossom wallpaper in duck egg is a perfect example of an elegant trellis, which balances timeless style with this season’s trends.” Customers currently prefer to paper the whole room, using delicate designs, rather than just one wall.

Karin finds her clients are also moving towards wallpapering an entire room, with traditional, classic designs from Morris & Co. proving timeless: “Choose something you can live with for a few years, and a design that will move with the times.”

Karin knows that bold designs can make a real statement, with geometrics adding crisp, clean lines. Depth can be added with tactile paper, such as mock suede or, for the brave, raised animal prints. Printed elements on the wallpaper, such as wooden planks, brickwork or plants, can make a statement and introduce some naturalistic forms.

Alternatively, if you fancy a life-sized Eiffel Tower in your lounge, then digital printing firms can create wallpaper from your holiday snaps. Wall art stickers are a fun addition, especially for children’s bedrooms.

As with paint, modern wallpapers are becoming more environmentally friendly, with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification and printing inks low in VOCs. This, in turn, makes recycling and disposal of wallpaper when redecorating an easier task.

If you want to blow the budget, then high-end silk wallpaper is a statement of luxury and opulence, while faux silk paper is an option if funds are limited.

For those who are time-poor, the invention of ready-pasted wallpaper ensures the task of redecoration is completed in super-quick time. Wallcoverings aren’t limited to paint and paper. Karin concludes: “3D wallpaper entices the eye and brings the imagination to life, while cork boards are easy to hang and come in a variety of designs, textures and colourways.”

“The Scandinavian look continues to be very popular”
Valspar Seven Sisters white ceiling emulsion and Ivory suede-effect Crown emulsion paint is used on the walls in this modern dining room
Swedish grey paint
Lucy Baker-Kind

Published 19 December 2016

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