The 'pattern drenching' trend is the best way to use wallpaper right now – these 5 rooms prove it

This maximalist take on wallpaper is how top designers are making pattern feel modern and exciting. Here's how to make it work

a room with pink wallpapered walls and ceiling
(Image credit: Helen Cathcart c/o 1st Dibs. Design: Bryan O'Sullivan Studio)

Do you remember a time, not so long ago, when the only truly acceptable way to decorate with wallpaper was with a single feature wall? Well, times have most certainly changed...

In the last few years, wallpaper has been used much more generously in interior schemes. Where it was once only seen as an accent wall covering, current interior design trends see it more likely to be used on every wall in a room. This led to a discussion in the Livingetc offices as to whether the return of the accent wall was nigh, a reaction to the maximalist approach to pattern, texture and color that stemmed from this new way to use wallpaper. However, rather than reverting to the idea of the feature wall, this design aesthetic seems to have evolved to become even more maximalist. 

The most exciting way to use wallpaper right now? Pattern drenching. It's a step on from the color-drenching trend that we've seen in paint finishes, and sees room schemes designed with the same prints used in abundance. 

It's become a staple of maximalist design brands, such as House of Hackney. 'Interiors have the power to transport us to a dream world, and there is nothing more emotive than being surrounded and cocooned in print and color.' says decorating consultant to the brand, Steve Corcoran. 'For a truly immersive experience an organic print works beautifully on all surfaces as it grows around you just as it would in nature.'  

Still need convincing to go all out with pattern? We've found a few of our favorite spaces that have embraced the pattern-drenching trend in a big way. 

hugh metcalf
Hugh Metcalf

Hugh is the Deputy Editor of He's worked for a variety of design magazines in his career, spending his time interviewing top interior designers and architects. He also has a passion for seeking out the latest interior trends, and sought out his favorite examples of this new idea for this feature. 

What is pattern drenching?

You might already be familiar with the idea of color drenching in interior design, but maybe not. It's the idea of using the same shade of paint to 'drench' the walls, ceiling and woodwork. It's a trick that can be used to make a room feel bigger as the ceiling recedes, but also make a space feel cozier and more intimate. It also makes fussy detailing like baseboards and moldings recede into the background, meaning your scheme still benefits from their decorative flair, but they don't demand attention in quite the same way. 

Pattern drenching is the same idea, but applied to print and pattern. This tends to mean a lot of the same wallpaper, used at least on the walls and ceilings, but pattern drenching can also incorporate textiles, whether that's a sofa, headboard or curtains, matching the walls. It tends to be a more maximalist style, but as you'll see with some of these examples, it can be a slightly more pared-back, yet adventurous way to use pattern in your home. 

Here are 5 rooms that have mastered pattern drenching in different ways. 

1. Try it in a small space

a wallpapered home office

(Image credit: Thomas Kuoh. Design: Studio Munroe)

You might think a small room could become easily overwhelmed when adopting pattern drenching, but think of it more in the way that you'll make even more of an impact in a more compact space. 

'Papering the ceiling is one of our favorite tricks in small spaces like powder rooms, closets, and study nooks,' interior designer Emilie Munroe of Munroe Studio tells us. 'Papering the fifth wall (also known as the ceiling) is unexpected and bold, and often feels more bespoke and intentional than the standard walls-only approach.'

In this small home office, Emilie used a bold, monochrome wallpaper to create a statement in what could otherwise be a featureless space. 'There's a whimsy to papered ceilings that brings delight to a room -- and who can argue with embracing that feeling in a space?,' she asks. 

2. Extend it to your textiles 

a room with house of hackney wallpaper

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

As well as your walls, applying the same pattern across textiles can create the mood of the pattern drenching trend, especially when used on vertical elements, like drapes or a headboard. 

This design, which features a new re-imagination of House of Hackney's classic print Phantasia re-imagined by US designers Pierce & Ward with a West Coast flair, is the perfect example of how this can work in a maximalist way. 

'A print like this works equally well on wallpaper and soft furnishings, so it can be used on the walls - even the ceiling - as well as draped over windows and upholstered onto furniture,' says House of Hackney's Steve Corcoran. 

3. Try a more pared-back approach 

a room with wallpapered walls and ceilings

(Image credit: Sandberg Wallpaper)

While many of these pattern-drenched rooms feel inherently maximalist, if you're creating a more relaxed design scheme using pattern, the basics of this interior trend can still elevate your design. 

Take this home office design using Sandberg Wallpaper as an example. This delicate print from the brand's Huset i solen might feel pedestrian used just on the walls, but by covering the ceiling in the same wallpaper too, the space takes on a bolder energy, while still feeling restful. 

4. Design in breaks to the pattern 

a pattern drenched room with pink wallpaper

(Image credit: Helen Cathcart c/o 1st Dibs. Design: Bryan O'Sullivan Studio)

When you're designing a space with an excess of busy pattern, creating visual breaks will bring order and help your eye find a place to rest in the design. Think about solid elements to include in your room as this resting element, whether it's a larger piece of furniture like a sofa, or a wall paneling idea like this scheme created by interior designer Bryan O'Sullivan of Bryan O'Sullivan Studio

With this House of Hackney pattern used across the cinema room's walls and ceilings, the dark grey paneling helps to structure the space. 

5. Combine different colorways 

a room with wallpaper on the walls and ceiling

(Image credit: Little Greene)

An alternative way to try out the pattern drenching trend is to use the same wallpaper or textile pattern, but in a different colorway. 

In this space, a wallpaper from Little Greene has been used in two different shades above and below the picture rail molding, and onto the ceiling. This ceiling decorating idea unites the space with pattern, but offers a more traditional contrast if you're unsure of the uniformity of the pattern-drenching look. 

Hugh Metcalf
Editor of

Hugh is the  Editor of From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2024.