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roll with it

From habitat magazine - issue 37, ways with wallpaper

Wallpaper is the comeback kid of the design world. Here’s how to add some ‘prints charming’ to your home.

Avoiding wallpaper because because you associate it with the peeling, dated panels in a great-grandparent’s house? Take another look. Tacky 1970s wallpaper in various shades of orange is long gone. Instead, easy-to-hang patterns, including paste-the-wall options, are becoming an essential decorating tool. Bold geometric designs, colourful botanical prints or subtle texture in neutral shades – there’s everything you need to lend character to a space. The Resene Wallpaper Collection is a great place for inspiration. It features everything from stripes to delicate art deco motifs and can be easily coordinated with Resene paint colours. Still not sure where to start? Here are some tips for introducing wallpaper to your walls, whatever your budget.

Applying tropical wallpaper designs in panels

If your budget or space doesn’t allow for using a jungle-icious wallpaper design such as Resene Wallpaper Collection 91310 on your entire wall, consider applying the wallpaper in panels or picture frames.

Back wall painted in Resene Woodland, frame in Resene Teak, floor in Resene Blanc, pendant light in Resene Crail, coffee tables in Resene Papier Mache and Resene Teak, books in Resene Wallpaper Collection 91310 and Resene Yogi, tealight holder in Resene Brown Sugar and plant pot in Resene Yogi. Couch from Nood, throw and green cushions from Adairs, cream and rust cushions from Freedom.   1 roll project

Put it in print

When it comes to prints, start by considering the mood you want. Every print creates a feeling; for example, subtle florals, such as Resene Wallpaper Collection 220482, may evoke a diffuse softness and calm and create a country aesthetic. A bold black-and-white stripe, such as Resene Wallpaper Collection 3342-13, will create classic elegance.

Interior designer Kate Alexander has a simple trick to assess the mood of a design: “A great way to get a feel for a paper is to blur your eyes. What is the dominant colour and/or pattern? Now imagine this colour and/or tone en masse – does this fit the vibe you’re after?”

Neutral wallpaper designs

If you want to keep your walls neutral, choose an off-white or shiny wallpaper such as Resene Wallpaper Collection 36001-3 to create visual texture.

This triangular ply wall panel painted in Resene Westar mirrors the geometric style of the wallpaper, making the space more dynamic. Flooring in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, cabinet in Resene Black Haze and Resene Rice Cake, lampshade in Resene Parchment and vases in Resene Black Haze, Resene Napa and Resene Parchment. Armchair from David Shaw, rug from H&M, stool from Everyday Needs.   2 roll project


Size matters

When choosing a print, scale is critical. For example, wallpaper with a large pattern works best on a wall with fewer ‘interruptions’ (i.e., windows and doors) and with space to ‘breathe’ (i.e., high ceilings). It also makes sense not to use a busy or loud print behind your television.

Light, too, plays a role in deciding scale. Interior designer Megan Harrison-Turner suggests that a small dark room, such as a laundry or powder room, is the perfect place to play with large-scale or busy patterns. Since you spend little time in there, the effect won’t become overwhelming. Wallpapering smaller spaces is also a cost-effective way to tap into the dynamism of wallpaper if you have a more limited budget.

Megan adds that playing with wallpaper pattern scale can be a powerful tool in stopping your interiors from feeling ‘samey’. “Our eyes get easily bored if the scale of the wallpaper in different rooms is kept similar – especially when the scale is consistently small to medium,” she says. “So, mix it up. For example, go for dramatic scale and pattern in an entranceway, leading to a small pattern in a sitting room, perhaps with a patterned sofa. Then try a large-scale pattern on a feature wall in the open-plan family area.”

Pattern placement

Another factor is the placement of the wallpaper. Feature walls, where just one wall is covered in wallpaper, provide a focal point and are cost-effective at adding visual interest. But there are so many other ways to use Resene wallpaper.

Try matching prints to a room’s architectural lines or furniture. For example, a dado or picture rail can be a natural stopping place for wallpaper. Paint the area below it in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss for a classic contrast. Or why not try papering above a fireplace mantel? Alternatively, architectural features such as nooks and trims can be great places to add interest with patterns; as can hanging wallpaper behind an impressive furniture piece. If you’re confident with wallpaper, there’s always the ceiling, which can look amazing wallpapered.

Wallpaper plays a supportive role in architecture, drawing the eye to features with directional patterns or demarcating zones such as reading nooks.

Neutral party

Colour-shy? The Resene Wallpaper Collection includes a range of neutral and white-on-white wallpapers, including some featuring beaded and pearl finishes – perfect if you’re after something subtler, says Megan.

Wallpaper is often associated with loud prints, so why not turn to paint if you’re after a neutral? Rough textures can bring a rustic finish and cosy intimacy to a space; they effectively draw people in and set them at ease. Paredback and sophisticated, textured neutrals are a quiet but powerful way of creating comfort. The Resene Inspirations Wallpaper range comes in 12 Resene colours, including popular neutrals, such as Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta, Resene Quarter Tea, Resene Rice Cake, Resene Black White and Resene Sea Fog. The range also has two embossed textures – bark chip and stucco.

Grandmillennial maximalism - traditonal wallpaper and bright colour

To achieve grandmillennial maximalism, mix traditional wallpaper designs such as florals with stripes and bright colours such as Resene Coral Tree.

Resene Wallpaper Collection 220482 features on the top of the wall, the dado rail and lower part of the wall is in Resene Spanish White. Floor pattern in Resene Quarter Spanish White and Resene Spanish White. Console table in Resene Eighth Spanish White, large planter and pendant light in Resene New York Pink and small vases and accessories in Resene Half Popcorn, Resene Green White, Resene Soothe and Resene Wax Flower. Vase on the floor in Resene Quarter Spanish White with flowers made from wallpaper offcuts of Resene Wallpaper Collection 91310 with stamen in Resene Wallpaper Collection M30602 and branches in Resene Woodsman Deep Oak. Table and chairs from Danske Møbler.   3 roll project

Mix and match

Another major trend is combining patterns to create a maximalist look dubbed ‘grandmillennial’. But mixing and matching without clashing takes care. Start by choosing designs from the same ‘family’: a William Morris-style floral will never be friends with a bold leopard print, but it could sing alongside the right stripe or spot design.

Megan offers an easy formula for decorating any room with multiple designs: organic pattern + simple geometric pattern (including stripes) + textured plain, each on a different scale. She also notes that large and small prints work together better than medium and small or medium and large.

Linking patterns through colour helps. Take inspiration from your favourite Resene wallpapers and choose other designs and paints, incorporating the same colours to create a sense of harmony across a room – and beyond.

“A home needs to have a sense of unity and flow to work successfully,” says Megan. “So that means keeping the intensity of the types of colours similar if you put a different colour in each room. If the look is more limited in its colour palette, vary the depths of colour but keep the tones similar, meaning don’t use clear, sharp blues and greyed muted blues.”

A tropical coastal look with wallpaper

Create tropical coastal charm in your home or bach with Resene Wallpaper Collection 37530-1. Use leftover wallpaper to line the panels of cabinets and tables.

Cabinet painted in Resene Nepal, plant holder and drum table in Resene Amulet, smaller drum table in Resene Blue Bayoux and vases and ornaments in Resene Blue Bayoux and Resene Tiara. Shell ball from Indie Home Collective.   2 roll project

Use different wallpaper designs to demarcate spaces

Don't restrict yourself to just one wallpaper. Use different designs to demarcate spaces or to draw your eye to other parts of the room.

Back wall in Resene Wallpaper Collection 409772 and front wall in Resene Wallpaper Collection 25733. Battens painted in Resene Paddock, flooring in Resene Colorwood Breathe Easy, plant pot in Resene Half Tasman, console in Resene Travertine and vases in Resene Thorndon Cream, Resene Travertine and Resene Clay Creek. Artwork by Hometime from endemicworld, pendant light from IKA. 

Paint skirtings or scotias with Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss before applying wallpaper to avoid paint drips on your design.

Paint pals

The easiest way to pair a paint with your wallpaper pattern is to look for its neutral undertones. For example, if your wallpaper features a botanical green print, choose a green-toned white paint to go with it. Hard-wearing Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen is ideal for painting walls, while Resene Lustacryl has an appealing semi-gloss sheen that’s easy to clean, so it’s perfect for painting trims and below the dado.

Kate adds that it’s essential to carefully match white paint to your patterns. “Not all white backgrounds are the same – and if you want a seamless transition, your white paint may need to tone towards a grey or cream,” she says. “Always buy a wallpaper sample or borrow the Resene wallpaper book to try your Resene paint colours alongside – especially for papers with texture or shine.”

A simple trick to finding a complementary paint colour is to take a photo of a wallpaper sample and upload it to the Resene Colour Match tool. Or ask the staff at your local Resene ColorShop for assistance. Another option is Resene Anaglypta, embossed wallpaper you can paint over in whatever Resene colour you choose.

Offcut options

Hanging wallpaper involves pattern matching, so you inevitably end up with offcuts or part rolls. But these don’t have to go to waste. Use wallpaper offcuts to decorate pieces of furniture, such as the front and insides of drawers, the sides of a mirror, the backs of shelves or the top of an old desk. An easy way to change the look of a room is to wallpaper the panels of a screen – you could even wallpaper the other side in a different design, allowing you to freshen up the room seasonally. Alternatively, spruce up one of your doors with leftover wallpaper. Small scraps of wallpaper can also decorate a doll’s house, be used in découpage or be employed to create paper flowers.

Don’t be a wallflower

Wallpaper doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a vast array of patterns and a much easier hanging and stripping process than you may remember, it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to add texture, colour and style to your home. Flick through some samples and let your imagination run wild.


Habitat plus wallpaper booklet

Let’s hang

Resene Wallpaper Expert Ingel Janssen shares tricks and tips for hanging wallpapers like a pro.

  • Work to rule: Measure your room before buying wallpaper and check the codes to see the type of wallpaper and the pattern repeat. As a simple guide, most rolls are 52cm to 53cm wide and – in most designs – three drops per roll. Always order an extra roll in case you make a mistake or the roll sells out. Check all wallpaper is from the same batch.

  • Dark arts: If hanging a dark pattern, ideally paint the wall colour a matching dark colour, so a lighter coloured wall beneath doesn’t show between the wallpaper gaps.

  • Reverse it: Many rolls come with the pattern facing outwards. Check the pattern when rolled out to ensure you hang it the right way up. You may need to reverse roll the wallpaper (so the pattern is on the inside) to make applying the wallpaper easier.

  • Go large and go central: With a big pattern, it’s best to start from the middle and move outwards. This will centralise the pattern on the wall.

  • Get cornered: “There should always be an overlap in the corner, and that’s done for two reasons. One is that the corner might not be straight. The other is, should the house move, the wallpaper won’t split open.”

  • Take a step back: The key viewing point for wallpaper is 1.5–2 metres from the wall. You’ve done well if the pattern looks good from that distance.

  • Slowly does it: ”Take your time. If you get it wrong, peel it off and stick it back on. Don’t stress.”

  • Bubble trouble: There is not enough paste on the wall if there are bubbles in the wallpaper after wallpapering. “There’s a quick trick to fix this, cut a tiny hole in the paper, stick some paste in it and press it down again.”

For more wallpaper inspiration and for tips on how to hang wallpaper, see the free habitat plus – wallpaper book, available from Resene ColorShops or online.

Habitat plus wallpaper booklet

Visit Ingel's step-by-step guide to hanging wallpaper

View the full collection of Resene wallpapers at your local Resene ColorShop or get a taste of the latest releases online.

Resene Breathe Easy

Resene Yogi

Projects: Kate Alexander, Annick Larkin, Vanessa Nouwens
Words: Maddie Ballard
Images: Bryce Carleton


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