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Transform Your Living Room with Statement Wallpaper

Add instant pizzazz to your living room with a bold new wallpaper 

Rebecca Davies

Rebecca Davies

Interiors Writer

Smarten up with pinstripes

Create a tailored, designerly look in your living room with pinstripes – they look just as smart on your walls as they do on suits. Choose soft greys so the scheme doesn’t feel overly masculine, and add a luxe touch with accents of gold in your accessories and soft furnishings. Keep window treatments plain and simple, making the walls the star feature.

Paper below the dado rail

If you’re worried that floor-to-ceiling wallpaper will look a bit much in your living room, try papering beneath the dado rail only (or the area beneath where the dado rail would be if you don’t have one). It'll work some pattern into your scheme without costing you a fortune in designer wallpaper. For a cohesive look, pick out a key colour from your wallpaper and use it to paint the upper part of your walls.  

 
Pale grey living room with upcycled sideboard
Photo credit: Dominic Blackmore for Ideal Home

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Wallpaper your furniture

Who says wallpaper needs to go on your walls? Make a striking statement in your living room by wallpapering a key piece of furniture, such as a sideboard. This is also a fantastic way to upcycle an old item that might otherwise end up at the tip. Go for wood or brick-effect wallpaper for an on-trend trompe l’oeil look. 

 
Modern Blue Living Room with Dark Sky Wallpaper
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Livingetc

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Get real with photographic wallpaper

Inject cutting-edge cool into your living room with a photographic wallpaper. For an extra personal touch, why not have one of your own photos blown up to wallpaper scale? A moody blue-on-blue palette will add to the scheme’s contemporary credentials. Complete the modern look with a flash of neon light, which will bring out the blue tones even more.

 
Traditional living room with large scale blue wallpaper
Photo credit: Mark Bolton for Homes & Gardens

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Tie the room together

Use an eye-catching wallpaper to unify different living zones in an open-plan space. Here, two separate seating areas are visually drawn together by a whimsical botanical print running around the entire circumference of the room. Paper from the dado rail upwards to prevent the scheme from becoming too busy - it's a sneaky way to save money on your scheme, too. 

 
Vibrant Floral Living Room with Cane Chair and Cocktail Trolley
Photo credit: Simon Bevan for Livingetc

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Go totally tropical

Transform a plain white room into a tropical paradise with a wallpaper teeming with exotic plants. Continue the colonial jungle feel in the rest of your scheme, with cane furniture, plantation shutters and a cocktail trolley for those early evening gin and tonics. Choose a wallpaper with a white backdrop and your scheme will still feel light and airy, despite the vibrancy of the pattern.

 
Claret red traditional living room
Photo credit: David Brittain for Ideal Home

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Try a tonal scheme

Pick a wallpaper featuring different shades of the same colour to create a subtle but striking feature wall rather than overwhelming the space. Opting for a simple design instead of a hectic pattern will also help to soothe the scheme. To break up a papered wall, place your furniture and artwork in strategic positions around the edge of the room. 

 

 
Country living room with floral feature wall and fireplace
Photo credit: Simon Whitmore for Style at Home

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Add a bit of flower power

Bring a country living room to life with a floral wallpaper. Balance a large botanical print with a plain painted wall - here, the wallpaper has only been used on the chimney breast, helping to make a real feature of the space. Stick to plain or simple patterns in your soft furnishings, leaving the wallpaper to take centre stage. 

 
Blue living room with gold wall detail
Photo credit: Richard Powers for Livingetc

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Create a sense of drama

Add a theatrical touch to a neutral scheme with a bold printed wallpaper. This rich midnight blue and gold pattern creates a focal point out of the modern chimney breast and immediately draws the eye. Touches of gold add a sense of luxury to the space and tie in with the metallic elements around the rest of the room.

 
Modern living room with white fireplace and floral wallpaper
Photo credit: Simon Bevan for Livingetc

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Update an old classic

Create a cutting-edge vibe in your living room with a wallpaper that puts a new spin on a classic print. A pixelated design transforms this floral pattern from traditional country to contemporary cool. For a strong, unified scheme, pick out colours and patterns from your wallpaper and reiterate them in your soft furnishings and accessories.

 
Graphic living room with clashing patterns in muted tones
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Homes & Gardens

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Soften an industrial look

While often associated with more traditional decorating schemes, wallpaper definitely has a place in modern rooms, too. Use a classic wallpaper print to soften a more hard-edged industrial scheme. Here, a bold monochrome floral wallpaper below the dado rail balances the rough, unfinished upper half of the wall. Stick to a monochrome colour scheme to help unify the traditional and contemporary elements of the scheme.

 
Chartreuse living room with floral wallpaper
Photo credit: Dominic Blackmore for Ideal Home

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Bring zing with bright colours

If you want to introduce bright shades into your living room, balance a neutral scheme with a colourful wallpaper. Pick out tones from the wallpaper and echo them in your soft furnishings - these sunshine yellow scatter cushions help to draw the room together. Use a neutral colour like white to break up strong blocks of colour.

 
Modern mid century living room with yellow wallpaper
Photo credit: Claire Lloyd Davies for Style at Home

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Play with mid-century patterns

Add a sense of retro fun to your living room scheme with mid-century colours and patterns. When it comes to 1950s prints, it's a case of the bolder the better, so be brave and create a striking feature wall in a daring shade or design. Balance your wallpaper with a streamlined period-style sofa in a complementary colour. 

 
Woodland theme country living room
Photo credit: David Brittain for Ideal Home

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Pick a theme and stick to it

If you know you are going for a strong theme or trend in your living room, then pick out wallpaper that will complement and emphasise your theme. A botanical patterned wallpaper will instantly conjure up thoughts of the great outdoors. Carry the theme through to the rest of your scheme with natural wood furniture, soft pebble tones and rustic woodland accessories. 

 
Modern living room with statement wallpaper
Photo credit: Lisa Cohen for Livingetc

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Make a statement with monochrome

After an effortlessly contemporary look? You can't go wrong with monochrome. Create a dramatic backdrop to your scheme with a bold black and white wallpaper, such as this striking cityscape. Paint woodwork black to frame your feature wall and turn it into a work of art. To soften the scheme, add a smattering of furniture and accessories in natural wood tones. 

 
Country Living Room with Green Floral Wallpaper
Photo credit: Spike Powell for Country Home & Interiors

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Introduce fresh florals

Bring elements from the garden indoors with a classic wallpaper showcasing country flora and fauna. This spring-inspired living room features gentle blooms, birds at play and leafy greens. Wirework pots and antiquities complete the potager look. Spring greens, soft lilacs and pretty pinks on white backgrounds give this classic style a modern twist.

 

 
Modern Blue Living Room with Japanese Mural
Photo credit: Katya De Grunwald for Homes & Gardens

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Take inspiration from beautiful scenery

Add ethnic influence with a striking mural. From hand-blocked panels to digitally printed vistas, murals of picturesque landscapes are an expressive way to bring epic scale and romance to any scheme.  This panoramic view of Mount Fuji features highlights of deep cobalt and indigo, which inspired the room'a rich palette. Wall-to-floor curtains help to dramatise this contemporary look.

 
Green Modern Living Room with Metallic Accents
Photo credit: Damian Russell for Livingetc

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Look to the elements

If you want to give your space a real wow-factor, then consider papering your walls in a colour and style that is sure to turn a few heads. A Malachite-inspired design is a great choice for a modern scheme. Green and black is an exciting combination in its own right, but when combined with copper accents, it is a force to be reckoned with.

 
Modern Retro Living Room with Bold Geometric Wallpaper
Photo credit: Lizzie Orme for Style at Home

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Nod to the past

Use a striking retro wallpaper in a mix of classic 1970s colours, such as browns and oranges, to create a feature wall that is loud and proud. A wallpaper is a surefire way to help your distinguish a zone or theme in your space. Here, an assortment of modern and traditional furniture, such as the gentlemen's leather armchair and mid-century sofa, sit well with the vintage display cabinet, while a greyscale Bowie artwork completes this 1970s scheme.

 
Modern Living Room with Blue Velvet Chaise and Pictorial Mural
Photo credit: Katya De Grunwald for Homes & Gardens

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Take a leaf from nature's book

Embrace the great outdoors and cover your wall in graphite-hue forestry. This pictorial mural depicts towering trees and cloud-lined skies in a soothing palette of blues and greys. Positioning a powder-soft velvet chaise in front of an exquisite etched backdrop creates a serene corner for reading. The dark tones of the upholstery treaments and rug chime nicely with the feature wallpaper for a cohesive feel.

 
Vibrant Red Living Room with Clashing Patterns
Photo credit: Simon Bevan for Livingetc

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Rethink rouge

Go for a dramatic shade in the living room. A rich and opulent shade of red can really bring a scheme to life. Red is a bold, brazen choice, and one that should not be taken lightly. Mix paisley with folk prints and lush textiles for a passion parlour fit for a maharani. Rich pattern, on walls and windows, creates an exotic mood. Cool down the hot scarlet with subtle blocks of pink.

 
Living room with map design wallpaper mural
Photo credit: Dominic Blackmore for Ideal Home

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Personalise your walls

Work a world map into your décor for a cool artwork with international appeal. Maps come in myriad styles and scales, and they make great wall art, as this scheme proves. For a vintage vibe, go for a multi-map design like the one shown here. For country-house grandeur, try a blown-up oil-painting mural. Or why not try a photo print of trees and bring the outdoors into a city flat?

 
Modern graphic living room corner with muted toile wallpaper
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Homes & Gardens

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Shake up a traditional look

Known for its classic appeal, toile de Jouy features heavily on the walls of many period homes, but done in a daring colour way it can take on a whole new look. This modern toile is whimsical, enchanting and undeniably striking. Juxtaposition creates drama, as shown here in the way the muted tones of the wallpaper and bare distressed wall clash with the statement floor tiles. Build on the excitement with a graphic rug and trompe l'oeil screen. 

 
Blue and Orange Living Room with Contemporary Panelled Sideboard
Photo credit: Adrian Briscoe for Homes & Gardens

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Proceed with painterly pattern

Introduce brushstroke-style patterns in bold colours. Drawing on the work of French painters Bonnard, Monet and Seurat, this painterly wallpaper pays homage to artistic spirit. This Impressionist-style wallpaper effortlessly showcases the graduated, ombre-effect that we have all come to know and love. Position a mirror on a wall opposite a patterned wallpaper and it will reflect the design at different angles as you move around the room.

 
Country Living Room with Exposed Brick Wall
Photo credit: Jeremy Phillips for Style at Home

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Get in touch with texture

Mimic the look of stacked stone with realistic-looking faux wallpaperGreat for modern, urban spaces as well as country dwellings, this brick-style wallpaper effectively depicts a traditional, weathered brick wall. Faux wallpapers look all the more striking if kept to just one feature wall, with neutral furnishings and accessories. Less is more, so don’t use them in more than one or two rooms or the effect will be diminished.