Walls are the largest area in any room requiring decoration and the decorative possibilities are enormous, as is the potential impact of your choice.
Wallpapers range from the expensive hand-blocked variety to the mass-produced high-street ranges. Many of the mass-produced types are actually made from vinyl or PVC and are washable making them suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. A more attractive, yet also washable, alternative to vinyl is coated wallpaper, which is expensive but widely available.
Many modern wallpapers are sold pre-pasted, and need only be dipped into a special trough of water before hanging.
There are a huge number of patterned wallpapers, with anything from flowers to geometric shapes on them. Recently, however, many companies have brought out a range of papers designed to emulate decorative paint finishes, such as dragging, stippling or marbling.
Embossed and textured wallpaper can look wonderful in the right circumstances. Anaglypta and Lincrusta have long been popular for the area beneath the dado rail, which is the area that gets the most wear-and-tear, but they can also look good elsewhere.
Other textured wallpapers include the ubiquitous wood-chip, which is often used to disguise rough, cracked walls, and hessian, which was popular in the 1970s, and has become fashionable as a retro look. It is also possible to buy wallpapers which imitate suede, cork, leather and silk. Another well-known textured wallpaper is flock. Real flock is very beautiful and immensely luxurious, and bears little resemblance to cheap flocked wallpaper.
Lining paper makes a lovely soft-looking surface to paint onto, as well as hiding minor imperfections in the wall. It also makes an ideal base for expensive wallpaper, creating a smooth, even surface.
If a room has no cornices, then you can paste wallpaper borders between the wall and ceiling.
Besides creating interest in a plain room, borders add a stylish finishing touch. Don’t underestimate braids and ribbons for unusual border effects. It is possible to line the walls of a room with fabric.This takes more effort than using paper, however the finished result can be quite breathtaking and very luxurious. First you will need to secure narrow wooden battens on to the edges of the walls on to which you staple the fabric. However, if you just want to cover one wall, for example behind a bed, you can simply drape the fabric over a horizontal pole. If your walls are very uneven, or you want a very different look, then consider panelling. The most common type is tongue and groove, however you can also create more traditional style panels with MDF or plywood and wood mouldings. There are also a variety of ready-to-assemble panelling kits available at do-it-yourself centres. Once painted these will be indistinguishable from wood.
Ceramic tiles are wonderfully decorative and also extremely practical, so make ideal wall coverings for rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. There is no need to confine their use to the purely utilitarian, as, especially in hot countries, they can look spectacular lining alcoves or window recesses.
Tiles are available in numerous patterns, colours and finishes – from smooth, glazed tiles, to rough, unfinished, rustic-looking ones. To increase the sense of space and light in a room think of using mirror tiles.