Living room wallpaper ideas – 10 clever ways to introduce wallpaper

The wallpaper aesthetic is as big as it’s ever been – discover clever ways to incorporate the freshest ideas into your living room.

If you’re a fan of pattern, you’re seriously spoilt for brilliant living room wallpaper ideas. And it pays to be adventurous. 

Because, even with modern motifs, most people rarely look past simply papering their main living room wall. But there are other ways to be playful with paper. Plastered on every surface, snuck into secret nooks or hung up high, wallpaper is the perfect foil to “the ordinary”. Few people would yawn at a sitting room ceiling sporting bold stripes or oversized flowers.

Farrow and Ball wallpaperCredit: Farrow and Ball

Each one of our living room papering ideas will get the creative juices flowing. There’s even a wallpaper mystery to be solved, straight out of an Agatha Christie novel…  

How to choose just the right paper

Jamie Watkins of Divine Savages shares top wallpaper tips

Jamie Watkins, co-founder at Divine Savages says: “When choosing a wallpaper for your living room, start by thinking what mood you want to create – vibrant party room, or cosy retreat? Seek out colours and patterns that evoke this feeling for you and order plenty of samples – place these around the room so you can see how they work at different times of the day and with different lighting.  

“Once you have a favourite, then you just need to decide if you’re going to wrap the whole room or just a wall or two; we love extending the traditional feature wall by continuing around two walls so you can create a little zone full of personality.” 

1. Match your paints to your wallpaper

Let your paper guide your paint choices

Divine Savage wallpaperCredit: Divine Savage

One clever wallpaper idea is to let your wallpaper guide your paint colour choices for a perfectly polished look. 

This room is styled using the aqua and pink Crane Fonda Aquamarina Del Rey wallpaper by Divine Savage as a kick-off point for spreading pastel charm to neighbouring surfaces. 

Aqua paper and matching painted panelling define the focal wall. The ceiling flips the balance, making the pink the star of the show with the aqua ceiling rose becoming the accent. The result is a room that’s got quirky symmetry. It feels intriguing yet calm and considered. 

So pick out a dreamy wallpaper you love. Once you’ve got your sample to hand, grab a colour wheel and pick the paints that most closely match the paper. Some paper suppliers make this easy as they’ve launched paint collections that are in perfect harmony with their papers.  

Want the inside scoop on the paint colour brands that make professional interiors positively pop? Find out what top designers say are the best paint brands and colours around.   

Featured product

Crane Fonda 'Aquamarina Del Rey’ Wallpaper, Divine Savages

RRP: £150

 Crane Fonda 'Aquamarina Del Rey’ Wallpaper, Divine Savages

2. Add moulding over wallpaper

Zone wall spaces and add clusters of artwork

SofologyCredit: Sofology

Look at any interiors website or magazine and you’ll notice that designers love to add an extra layer of interest to papered walls with moulding.  

What makes this an absolute corker of a living room wallpaper idea is how simple the look is to create. Anyone with basic DIY skills can add this luxe touch to even the humblest of living rooms and end up with a stunning result within hours.  

But there’s also another reason why designers reach for this go-to living room wallpaper idea. With patterned wallpapers, there aren’t any visual cues for where to hang framed art (or any kind of wall art). Set against a random motif with no linear lines, any artworks hung on a patterned wall can look odd or lost in the pattern chaos. 

Moulding creates a frame for the artwork, anchoring it. You can further enhance your wallpaper aesthetic by clustering framed art within the moulding panels. Play with asymmetry within the larger frame for a quirky, off-beat look.  

And, after you’ve hung your art and realise you have way too many prized pieces left without a home, discover the Swedish decluttering technique of Döstädning. 

Featured product

Honeycomb 4 Seater Grand Split sofa, Sofology

RRP: £2,399

Honeycomb 4 Seater Grand Split sofa, Sofology

3. Add paper within mouldings

The “less is more” approach to wallpaper can be fun and quirky

RuggableCredit: Ruggable

Maybe you like the idea of using wallpaper and moulding for a touch of grandeur but prefer paint as your main backdrop. 

This is a clever play on the wallpaper aesthetic that will give your living room a shock of pattern, but won’t feel overwhelming.  

I find that florals with a large-scale print works best. Any wallpaper design with a vertical motif, say for example, bamboo, can look oddly out of proportion in the moulding frame. It’s a good idea to choose a wallpaper with a gentle flow, rather than a geometric structure – a floral chinoiserie style is ideal. 

Best of all, the new stickandpeel wallpapers on the market make changing up the paper in your moulding frames the easiest of DIY projects. 

Featured product

Iris Apfel Summer Of Love Charcoal Rug, Ruggable

RRP: £249

Iris Apfel Summer Of Love Charcoal Rug, Ruggable

4. Highlight the architectural bones of your fireplace

Your wallpaper and fire surround are a hot wallpaper idea combo

Farrow and BallCredit: Farrow and Ball

Fireplaces – functional or otherwise – will always be coveted accents in any living room. Double down on showing off what you have. Wallpaper, placed strategically around and even within a fire surround will have all eyes firmly set on the main architectural detail of your room. 

There are several ways to approach highlighting your fireplace with wallpaper. These are just two examples by Farrow and Ball featuring their Atacama paper. 

In the first room the chimney breast is flanked by storage painted white, so the wallpaper is in sharp contrast and stands out dramatically. 

As we consider in these ways to make small bedrooms look bigger, any verticals in a room – such as the prominent chimney breast – will make the ceiling appear taller. So using wallpaper in this way won’t only highlight your fire surround but the height of your living room too. 

Farrow and BallCredit: Farrow and Ball

Another clever approach, depending on your fireplace design, is to carry the paper into the cavity of the fire surround, where it can soften the look of your stove. 

Carrying the paper across the entire wall brings a cohesive look. We like how the fine floral print of this paper makes it suitable for a range of spaces without being too overly dainty. 

Patrick O’Donnell, international brand ambassador for Farrow and Ball, says: “In a space used as often as the living room, the most important thing is to choose a wallpaper design you’ll love living with day after day.  

“That said, there are particular patterns that work beautifully in certain spaces. A rambling floral looks charming against wood and brick accents across all the walls, or on one wall or section, perfect for a country cottage living room. An Art Deco wallpaper adds instant elegance to a more modern space.” 

Featured product

Atacama Wallpaper, Farrow and Ball

RRP: £120 per roll

Atacama Wallpaper, Farrow and Ball

5. Add paper appeal to your built-in joinery

Paint isn’t the only decor player for cabinets with character

Credit: Graham and Brown

Cabinet fronts a bit dull? Here’s a perfect place to get creative with wallpaper that you don’t see every day. 

Trim your paper down to the size of the cabinet insets and transform your storage into something extraordinary. 

And as this example by Graham and Brown using Wallflower Night Garden Wallpaper shows, when paper and paint are in perfect harmony the effect can be incredibly polished. 

With this look, the scale of the wallpaper pattern will be key to getting this refined wallpaper aesthetic. Small-scale prints make sense when you are covering the relatively small surface area of the inserts of your living room cabinets. 

We like how the wallpaper is repeated on the chimney breast, while the bookcase is simply painted. This gives the wallpaper prominence but not so much that it overwhelms the entire wall. The effect is smart and cosy instead of all-out maximalist. 

Featured product

Wallflower Night Garden Wallpaper, Graham and Brown

RRP: £64 per roll

Wallflower Night Garden Wallpaper, Graham and Brown

6. Wallpaper across frameless doors

Amuse guests with “the mystery of the missing door”

Credit: Ermetika

Do you absolutely need frameless doors when you have papered walls? No. But there’s no denying they’re fun and the stuff of “who done it” book plots. 

Guillaume Plantet, expert at frameless doors manufacturers Ermetika, says: “Wallpapered frameless doors blend effortlessly into a room’s overall aesthetic, creating a fluid transition between patterns and textures.  

“This novel approach to interior decorating not only brings a tailored touch that can either complement or enhance the current decor, but also adds an exciting design element. Hidden doors, with their adaptability and visual appeal, provide a striking option for those desiring to create a distinctive and compelling design feature.” 

OK, we admit that doors that disappear when closed may not be the best party trick for someone with sight challenges. Being able to clearly spot handles on doors papered to blend with the surrounding wall is a must have if your living room is used by anyone with limitations on their vision. 

If eyesight isn’t a problem, go wild and skip the handles all together and create the ultimate secret hideaway in your home. 

If you’re the creative type, you can come up with 101 ways to put this wallpaper idea to clever and playful use in your living room.  

The “secret library” that’s just beyond the papered sitting room is a design classic straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, but a secret bar will equally get your guests talking.  

Ermetika’s top tips for hanging wallpaper on a door

Ensure the wallpaper is from a reputable manufacturer, keeping in mind factors such as longevity and ease of cleaning. 

The door surface should be even and devoid of flaws to achieve a perfect finish. 

Usually, wallpaper is only hung on one side of the door; this process may cause a warp on the door. To overcome this issue, apply lining paper on the other side of the door and then paint it with a matching wall colour. 

Proper alignment of patterns and seams is essential for a polished look. 

Particularly when dealing with intricate designs or if you’re new to wallpapering, professional assistance can guarantee an optimal outcomes. 

7. Or, keep the architrave and only paper your door

Dressing up a bland wooden living room door is a fun and overlooked wallpaper idea

Etsy / WallMuraliaDecorCredit: Etsy / WallMuraliaDecor

Flat, boring wooden doors in a living room can be easily upgraded with this clever and oftenoverlooked living room wallpaper idea.  

If you choose a stick-and-peel paper you can even forget about the messy paste. Best of all, you know with doors constantly being in use that your decor efforts will be noticed. 

Hardworking doors will need hardwearing wallpaper. There are examples of good vinyl wallpapers surviving in country houses for a century or more, so, this is an excellent place to start to find patterns with staying power. Jane Clayton and Graham and Brown offer heavy weight vinyl wallpaper options. 

We like how this door’s wallpaper, which is styled by Etsy shop WallMuraliaDecor, gently matches the grey living room wall colour. The papered door adds a subtle yet sophisticated touch to this otherwise pared back space. 

8. Treat your ceiling to a whimsical wallpaper

Living room ceilings look glorious when papered to perfection

Rebel WallsCredit: Rebel Walls

Once you go into a home where the living room ceiling is perfectly papered it’s hard to settle for a ho-hum stark, white painted ceiling ever again. 

As a designer, one of the top tricks up my sleeves has always been to think of a living room’s fifthwall” as the ultimate canvas – big, bold and, in the main, clutter-free. 

Even in the most conservative living rooms, there is a ceiling paper that will bring the right dose of texture, colour and pattern to complement the walls and furniture in the space.  

And as this room styled by Rebel Walls in their Opulence paper shows, a wallpapered ceiling doesn’t mean the end to neutral design. In fact, ceiling wallpapers can be surprisingly subtle, maintaining a sense of lightness even as they draw eyes upwards. 

We particularly like the use of large-scale patterns on the ceilings of open-plan living rooms. This style is as at home in a city pad as it is in the grand period houses that originally embraced the dramatic ceiling look. 

Featured product

Opulence, Rebel Walls

RRP: £ 39.60 per square metre

Opulence, Rebel Walls

9. Wallpaper a screen

Use different motifs on either side for more maximalist magic

HarlequinCredit: Harlequin

Nothing beats a papered screen for adding a bit of bohemian bliss to a living room. This is a look beloved by maximalists who despair at being tied to just one wallpaper. With screens, there isn’t one, but two sides that help the pattern lover to pile on the layers, making for a richer wallpaper experience. 

Another advantage is that screens can go where they are wanted (or needed) within the sitting room, meaning that the decor is forever in flux. One minute the screen is hiding clutter in a corner; the next it is brought into action to shield a reading spot from the midday sun’s glare. 

This adds to the pleasure of living with wallpaper. It isn’t just a static feature hung on the walls, but can be incorporated into practical elements when needed.

10. Match your wallpaper and textiles

Give a nod to restrained maximalism

HarlequinCredit: Harlequin

Can’t get enough of a good thing? Then matching your wallpaper with the textiles in your living room – like your upholstery and curtains – makes perfect sense. 

In fact, it’s a very laudable way to get around pattern paralysis. Not everyone has the knack for merging motifs in a way that feels chic and not chaotic. This is the perfect “get out of jail” wallpaper idea when you have fallen in love with a pattern, but can’t figure out what goes with it. 

This is a look much beloved by modern and traditional designers alike, and, similar to the frameless door, its all about the art of illusion – which is a quirky decor touch that never gets old. 

We like this unusual black floral pattern by Harlequin called Grounded. Follow the stylist’s lead and add a touch of drama by swapping some of the matching textiles to a contrasting colour.  

As an interior designer, I have been privileged to get the inside scoop on the most exciting wallpaper brands that take rooms from mundane to magical. If I was designing a living room today here are the three top wallpaper brands I would be excited to use: 

  1. Arte
  2. AMWA Designs
  3. Pierre Frey

Written by Joy Archer she/her

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