Your design instincts might tell you that wallpaper isn't a great idea in a small room — after all, isn't it going to be too busy for such a tiny space? However, many designers argue that small rooms featuring wallpaper, especially on every wall, give a more enveloping and cozy feel.
It's a design trick that embraces what is actually great about small spaces, but it's still not foolproof. So how do you get wallpaper ideas right for compact rooms?
There are many ways to feature wallpaper and you’ll want to utilize it in the best way possible for your space.
1. Powder rooms
Powders rooms are increasingly popular spaces to go all out with bold design, perhaps because it’s a small space and it may not feel so scary making daring design choices as you can easily shut the door on it. It’s a good place to start to boost your confidence if you feel like going for some drama or anything really striking. It’s also a good tight space to include a playful pattern to feel like you’ve stepped into another world momentarily - it’s an experience.
‘I believe that wallpapers are a transformative tool, especially in smaller spaces,' says Laura Karasinski, Founder and Design Director of Atelier Karasinski. 'Conversely, selecting wallpapers with horizontal designs can widen the perceived width of the space. Moreover, wallpapers have the unique power to inject personality and character into a confined area.’
‘Whether it's a vibrant print or a subtle texture, the right wallpaper can add visual interest without overwhelming the space,' Laura adds. 'In essence, wallpapers aren't just decorative elements; they're strategic tools that influence the illusion of space, enhancing ambiance, and infusing style into even the smallest of rooms.'
2. Box rooms
Bedrooms are the ideal place to feel cocooned, and this can be achieved in lots of ways, but for the full experience, wallpaper is a great starting point.
‘For wallpapering a small room think about what you want to show off, is it a feature wall, a wardrobe? For this twin room, the ceiling was low so we added some vertical stripes to add height to the room. Wallpaper can do wonders!’ say Jenna Choate and Mariana Ugarte, Co-founders and Directors at Interior Fox.
The pattern of the wallpaper for this bedroom also mirrors other elements of the room such as the plaster moldings and the linear fronted drawers, but it doesn't overwhelm as it’s broken up by the organic headboard fabric and crisp white sheets.
3. Reading Nooks
Next up is the quirky reading corner. A space we need to feel cosy and happy, perhaps a little dreamy too. Opting for vertical stripes can visually elevate the ceiling height, too.
'In a small space, wallpaper can provide depth, giving a perception that the room is larger than it is, while also providing a finished, sometimes cozy and comfortable warmth to the space.’ says Gretchen Murdock, founder of Modtage Design. Who wouldn’t love this stripy setting to escape to?
A kid's nursery is the place to really create some magic, so choosing a wallpaper is a playful task to take on. Sascha Lafleur, Co-founder & Principal Designer of West of Main describes this beautiful wallpaper feature on the ceiling and why it works so well in a space like this.
'The application of this bespoke wallpaper on the ceiling adds intrigue and dimension to the space,' Sascha explais. 'This wallpaper mural is artwork in itself, and gives this unique nursery a whimsical feel.'
5. Guest Bedrooms
It’s a lovely thing to do to welcome a guest into your home, and knowing they’ve got their own space within your home can immediately put them at ease. Making a space for them to bring comfort and a little luxury while away from home is the ultimate goal and providing a good all rounder interior style may be easier than you think.
Jillian Smith-Moher, Co-Owner and Interior Designer at Twenty-Two Twelve inspires us with the design approach for this gorgeous, homely yet luxurious hotel bedroom setting, ‘The boutique hotel is in a historic building, so we wanted to be sure to specify only heritage colors so that we were staying true to the character of the building,' she says. ''We created a different palette for each suite, then layered in unexpected hits of color and bold wallpapers from each palette to connect the spaces, ensuring they all felt they were part of a cohesive whole.’
It’s always nice to connect rooms to one another in the home, even subtly. In this cozy guest bedroom, the busy floral wallpaper acts as a beautiful backdrop, setting the ambience, pulling the muted mustard from the velvet headboard and valance sheet - a perfect example on how to pull different tones from a wallpaper like this.
6. Guest bathrooms
If you're lucky enough to be able to offer your guest an ensuite to go with their bedroom, it’s a great place to showcase a wallpaper design you love and know others will get to enjoy it too.
The bonus part is having a view through to the artful wall when the door is open. ‘I think wallpaper can truly add personality to a small space. Go bold in the powder room and have fun with it,’ says Perry Walter, Founder of Walter Studio Interior Design. ‘Using bold colorful patterns creates interest and keeps the eye moving in the room. My client wanted something in their guest bathroom to talk about. I think the goal was achieved.’
No matter the space, no matter how small, a wallpaper can bring a sense of luxury allowing you to escape, as well as a sense of security enveloping you within that particular setting. Pulling colors from the chosen wallpaper will create an organic and cohesive design that you can add to confidently.
7. Laundry rooms
Wallpaper can work wonders for small rooms, even if they need to hold up to wear and tear of daily use. For this laundry room, designed by Whitney Romanoff of MeetWest, combining wallpaper with wall paneling was the smart move for a more durable spot.
'We wrapped the room in beadboard paneling to add extra texture and charm and painted it all in Farrow and Ball's Teresa's Green, a cheerful shade of aqua, that coordinates beautifully with the room's real star—that House of Hackney wallpaper,' Whitney explains.
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Portia Carroll is an interior stylist, writer, and design consultant. With a background in interior architecture and design, she has a plethora of creative experience in the industry working with high end interior brands to capture beautiful spaces and products and enhance their qualities.
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