Wallpaper trends: The writing’s on the wall

There’s no doubt that the resurgence of wallpaper in decor continues unabated. The ranges just get wider, more exotic, and more experimental.


There’s no doubt that the resurgence of wallpaper in decor continues unabated. The ranges just get wider, more exotic, and more experimental – you can basically create any mood you like.

Clinton Kearney, general sales manager, Wallpaper Inn, says, “Wallpaper in South Africa suffered a bad reputation during the 80s, with a shift to paint effects, textured wall finishes, and plaster effects. About five years ago, we saw a resurgence of interest in wallpaper.” He feels exposure to overseas decor programmes from the UK and US helped in part to inspire homeowners to choose wallpaper as a big impact accessory. “This, coupled with the improvement in good design and advances in print technology, has moved wallpaper on.”

The biggest trend

Dean Bassett, director, WCI Wallpapers JHB Pty Ltd, confirms a global resurgence in interest in wallpaper. “Especially digital printed wallpaper, where you can create any custom wallpaper or mural to suit your specific preference. The overall shift in the local and international market is more focussed on developing bespoke wall coverings, given the wealth of options available to the client.”

Dean’s own in-house printing provides clients with custom-printed wallpaper and vinyl options. Whether you find a high-resolution image on one of the stock photography sites or use one of your own photographs, it’s astonishing what effect this can have in a room. Cleverly planned, your photograph of a forest disappearing into the distance will enlarge your bedroom into infinity.

Local and global trends

In Clinton’s view, “Wallpaper choices in South Africa can be regional in taste, but also draw inspiration from international trends. The predictions for the coming season are botanical prints which were popular last season, but have kept on trend with new seasonal colour pallets. Geometric patterns and stylised geometric patterns are trending with a strong Scandinavian look also coming through.”

Dean says, apart from big bold botanicals, high on the list are faux designs. “Concrete, wood, and metal imitation wallpapers. Our Rasch supplier offers loads of luscious organic wallpapers, but equally, textured concrete wall coverings to create an urban look and feel to any environment.” Clinton’s current top sellers are bricks and botanicals.

Wallpaper or paint?

Dean feels, “You can use wallpaper to transform any environment, no matter where. The richness of the colours and depth of textures cannot be achieved with simple paint, making wallpaper an everlasting necessity in interior design.” For many designers, it’s the combination of the two that works. It’s often only necessary to wallpaper a single wall, particularly if it replaces a headboard, or is intended to bring the outside in – or vice versa – in a bathroom for instance. Carefully pairing paint colours and textures with wallpaper can enhance both materials.

Where are people using wallpapers?

“Wallpapers are typically used for feature walls in bedrooms and living rooms, but we’re seeing an increase in people wanting them in bathrooms and kitchens – no problem, as long as the correct wallpaper is chosen, and the application is done correctly,” says Clinton. “People love to actually feel their wallpaper, so paper with a texture is often a deciding factor,” he adds. “We’re also encouraging the use of non-woven backing paper, which is easier to hang especially if you want to DIY it.”

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