The following post summarises a few general points to note when choosing wallpapers for your home.

Add to your individuality by choosing a wallpaper pattern that reflects you and watch your home change into a unique backdrop that is a reflection of your life.

Cole&Son - Albemarle - Coleridge - 94-9051

Benefits Of Wallpaper: Why choose wallpaper over other finishes?

  • Longevity: wallpapers last five times longer than paint under normal usage conditions
  • Vinyl: wallpapers can retain their original beauty for at least fifteen years whereas paint needs to be redone every three years
  • Variety: wallpaper gives you a huge variety of decorating options and you can choose from hundreds of patterns, colours and designs
  • Plain: single colour wallpapers will last longer than paint
  • Murals: can be achieved like a piece of art by utilising wallpaper on one wall only
  • Acoustics: textured wallpaper, like fabric, improves accoustics and can be made from grass cloths, jutes, sisal, woven paper and bamboo
  • Special Effects: for example antique mirror, faux wood, marble effect and tiles - if clad walls with marble, tiles, wood or mirror, these are all messy and laborious tasks.  The same effect can be achieved cleanly and instantly with wallpaper
  • Digital: Computer generated  designs  allow you to custom make your wallpaper with ease and it is not cost prohibitive anymore
  • Framing: Wallpaper need not be an entire wall it can be a border high level instead of or under cornicing as well as creating a frieze at dado rail height
  • Health: the designs of wallpaper can subliminally effect your mood, energy and outlook in your daily life
  • Instant: wallpaper is one of the most effective way to alter a rooms ambiance
  • Children: pattern is critical in childrens rooms because of the repetition within the design, repetition increases the ability for problem solving and gives the child a sense of calm and order.  Vivid designs fire up a childs imagination and help them understand just like nursery tales do, the world we live in.  Practically speaking, wallpaper in a childs room is durable and more easily cleaned
  • VOCs: Paint fumes can be dangerous to people and their pets.  Wallpaper is a great alternative
  • Dirt: patterns on wallpaper will help hide dirt and smudges
  • Design Tip: Like fashion if you choose a large pattern in a small room it will make the room feel larger and if you choose a horizontal stripe it will make the room look wider, a vertical stripe will make the room feel taller

How to hang wallpaper in 12 easy steps

  • Step 1: Measure the width of your wall
  • Step 2: Measure the height of your wall
  • Step 3: Order Your Wallpaper Online
  • Step 4: Markl out 1 meter on a surface
  • Step 5: Roll out and drop to measure total metres
  • Step 6: Carefully slice at final wall length
  • Step 7: Evenly paste wall with glue
  • Step 8: Get hanging
  • Step 9: Make space for plugs
  • Step 10: Smooth your edges
  • Step 11: Trim Excess
  • Step 12: Enjoy

Halls, Stairs & Landings: Your guest will make their first impressions of your home within the first 30 seconds of walking in.

  • Generally an entrance hall leads to a staircase and unites the core of a house.  Wallpaper is a great solutions for halls, stairs and landings as apart from an entrance hall mirror and very little furniture there are only walls to create an impact - hanging pictures of any sort is often awkward as ideally art should be looked at from a distance
  • This area often has a dado rail allowing you to either combine paint and wallpaper or two different styles of wallpaper on the same wall which creates texture and ambiance
  • This high traffic area suits wallpaper due to its higher durability than paint

Halls, Stairs & Landings - Traditional - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Archive Traditional Room Shot - Dorset 88-7031

Halls, Stairs & Landings - Contemporary - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Fornasetti II - 97-11034 Nicchie


Bedrooms: should be calm to promote rest and rejuvenation

  • Earth tones are best in bedrooms.  Bright colours are too active and dark colours can be depressing
  • The best colours are muted, earth tones and neutral pastels
  • For childrens bedrooms, try and steer clear of purple or pink, you can accessories with these colours but the dominant colour should be restful

Bedrooms - Banbury - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Albemarle - Chatterton - 94-2008 Bedrooms - Banbury - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Banbury - Button Trellis 91-9036, 91-9037, 91-9038, 91-9039, 91-9040 Bedrooms - Children - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Whimsical - BUTTERFLIES & DRAGONFLIES 103-15065


Dining Rooms:  Red stimulates everything, including appetite and debate.  Perfect in a dining room

  • A good way to choose the colour is to coordinate with your existing crockery
  • A formal dining room, used primarily in the evening, feels grand and welcoming with non-pastel colours
  • A dining room that is used daily by the family often flows from the kitchen and match in tone
  • Murals tell a story and they look great.  Dining rooms is where stories are told. See living room description of murals below.
  • The larger the design, the larger the room will look and hanging your art over large two to three colour designs works beautifully adding depth and interest to your walls
  • Feng Shui says that the best colours are earth tones, sage greens, pastels and more muted colours and they apply the same principles here as in bedrooms

Dining Room - Fornasetti - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Room Settings - Pansee 77-2005 Dining Room - Whimsical - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Punchinello 103_2006

Dining Room - Whimsical - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Room Settings _Nautilus 103_4019

Living Room:

  • Murals
    • The mural was born from tapestries which would traditionally tell the journey of a story.  Today there are still stories being told on murals (for example the Folie collection) along with very contemporary (for example the Murals collection)
    • Hand painted murals traditionally were (and still are) very time consuming processes.  If you don't want to commission something bespoke you can order off the peg some fantastic designs
    • The art of a wall mural is one of the worlds oldest, decorative implementations, it is different from other forms of pictoral art in the way that it connects with the architecture and furnishings of a room.  The mural due to its size (not just its designs) can dramatically alter the rooms spacial proportions
    • Feature statement  murals in place of a massive painting
  • Textured wallpaper
    • The acoustic properties of textured wallpapers makes it perfect for the ultimate TV experience
    • For those without curtains any textured wallpaper will help to absorb the sound
    • Gives a depth to a room that a flat paper cant
    • Easy clean and marks are well hidden
    • Is like fabric on your walls (like the queen has a Buckingham Palace - traditionally the smartest wallcovering)
  • Panelling
    • Panelling effect wallpaper can create a subtle calm, plastered, layered base to your walls
    • A frieze wallpaper is a good way of embracing traditional works of cornicing and panelling into a modern home.  The intricacy of the designs add depth and character.  One of Englands most renound interior designers, John Fowler embraced this concept in the interiors of the most modern buildings after the war.
    • Mirror panelling works beautifully with black and white photography
  • Patterns
    • Can wrap your whole room to ground it and give symmetry
    • Large scale patterns create a greater sense of drama and can make the room look larger as long as it is not too dark a colour
    • Small scale patterns are easier to add your art to and blend into the background with ease.  Your flooring and furniture will be the focal points.

Living Room - Cole and Son Wallpaper - clock-court-lifestyle-shot-square Living Room - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Caledonia Harris Stripe Lifestyle Living Room - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Fornasetti II - 97-7021 Uccelli


Bathroom: By necessity bathrooms are often cold and hard. One way to add contrast character in this setting is with a wallpaper.

  • The goal in Feng Shui is to have the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood balanced in every room of your living space
  • Earth tones, pastels and whites are recommended as the prodominant colours so a colour like blue and other dark watery colours such as black, grey, navy, dark brown or green are not recommended because bathrooms already have a lot of the water element represented by mirrors and the water from the pipes so adding these colours adds more water creating an imbalance.  The earth colours balance the water element
  • Make sure you have good ventillation, not just for your wallpaper but for moisture in general
  • Where water can splash heavily (e.g. above a sink) add perspex sheets as a splashback to protect the wallpaper.  Another option is to apply a protective decorators varnish to your wallpaper, this helps protect against water, mild abrasion and discolouring (be sure to test a small sample before fully applying)

Bathrooms - Archive Traditional Room Shot - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Clandon 88-3013 Bathrooms - Whimsical - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Archipelago 103-12054

Cloakrooms: your moment to go wild

  • Usually small rooms which require little wallpaper that can make a huge impact and you can layer photographs and pictures on top so that any visitor is inspired
  • The smaller the room the wilder the wallpaper should be.  All the way down the basin.  Just put a piece of perspex over the splash area.
  • For the very brave - why not contrast the ceiling with another wallpaper - such fun!

Cloakrooms - Fornasetti II - Cole and Son Wallpaper - 97-10030 Acquario

Playroom: A playroom should be safe, secure and happy. Wallpapers will add a layer of comfort, colour and character whilst also being easy to clean.

  • Pattern is critical in childrens rooms because of the repetition within the design, repetition increases the ability for problem solving and gives the child a sense of calm and order.  Vivid designs fire up a childs imagination and help them understand just like nursery tales do, the world we live in.  Practically speaking, wallpaper in a childs room is durable and more easily cleaned
  • Do remember this is an area where vibrancy and pattern matter and character full wallpapers are wonderful for childrens imaginations

Playroom - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Fornasetti II - 97-15046 Multiplette Playroom - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Whimsical_Cabaret 103_7026 Playroom - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Whimsical_Scaramouche 103_8029

Study / Office:

  • One room where you retreat to both rest or work
  • We would not put a multicoloured paper in a study as traditionally the room is full of books and this will create their own colours and patterns
  • For a more traditional look why not try a panelled effect (see living room above for more details)
  • Two tone large scale designs will not overwhelm a room but rather envelop it which will add to the tranquility whether this design is modern or traditional
  • Small scale designs will make it cosy and enable you to hang pictures and prints
  • There are two schools of thought:
    • Traditionally you would have a more formal stripe or damask in your study
    • Today where home office living is growing a more eclectic design works well in a creative space

Study Office - Cole and Son Wallpaper - Albemarle - Blake - 94-6033 Study Office - Cole and Son Wallpaper Fornasetti II - 97-2007 Nuvolette

History Of Wallpaper (a quick synopsis):

  • Dates back to before 1700 and was created as people could not afford tapestries which were used as insulation in the home
  • The first decorative wallpaper was discovered in Britain at Christ Colledge Cambridge printed on the back of documents as 1509
  • The historical techniques are hand painting, woodblock printing, stenciling and now also machines
  • The post war housing boom in the 1950s allowed wallpaper to be mass produced using the rotary method which adapted the technique of flatbed silk-screen printing.  This is a essentially a stencil process but when worked on a rotary cylinder than anything else
  • Today, digital printing is here.  It is more suited to shorter runs and bespoke projects as it is still currently relatively slow.  Unlike the rotary printing method, digital printing is not restricted by the circumferance of the cylinder and offers the freedom to tailor the scale of the design to any size
  • Hanging wallpaper was an art but now with good quality paper anybody can hang it

Hanging wallpaper

  • Ensure that your walls are lined before hanging any wallpaper
  • Only cut and hang 1 length at a time
  • Check which way up the design is before hanging
  • Do not crease the paper when folding lengths
  • Trim tops and bottoms of lengths with paperhangers shears or a sharp knife and a straight edge
  • Joins should be tightly butted and never overlap
  • Any paste squeezed through the joins should be immediately wiped away with a damp, clean soft cloth
  • Dark coloured wallpaper may need the edges coloured with a slightly lighter shade of chalk or pastel to prevent white edges showing
  • Where wallpaper rolls are numbered the hanging should be done in sequence


These images were taken earlier this year when Kensington Design were invited to a tour of the Cole & Son archive in London.  

Cole & Son’s flock wallpaper archive is shown here, arranged by colour.

Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (6)


How many rolls do I need?

  • If you are on our website we calculate this all for you (do take a look at our online shop).  All you need to input online is the width of your wall and the height of your ceiling
    • Wall Width
    • Wall Height
  • If you have another wallpaper you will need the following data (remember all the units need to be the same e.g. cm or m):
    • Wall Width = x
    • Wall Height = y
    • Wallpaper Width = a
    • Wallpaper Length = b
    • Pattern Repeat = c
    • Number of Rolls (including 10% waste) = (((x / a)*y)*1.1 )/(b-c)
    • Please note, our calculation above is purely for guidance
    • Whatever this number round this up to the nearest whole number and this is the number of rolls you will need.
    • It is always safest to add an extra roll and also practical for future use


  • Block Printing
    • has been used for printing wallpapers and textiles for hundreds of years and these traditional methods are still used today
    • hand crafted in relief on blocks of fruitwood (for example Cole & Son use pear wood and have blocks dating back to 1875)
    • one block for each colour.  They are dipped in pigment and applied to the paper in sequence to create the design.  These blocks are kept in humidity controlled rooms to ensure that they do not split over time

Cole & Son archive is vast and consists of approximately 1,800 block print designs.  Cole & Son are Royal Warrant holders, which means they supply the Royal Household.  Their wallpapers are also hung in the Houses of Parliament.

Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (8)


Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (9)

  • Rotary Printing
    • Wood block printing is incredibly labour intensive and copper cylinders were invented which carried the design below the surface of the roll.
    • Like block printing, each roll prints a single colour and the cylinders were mounted within one machine where the paper is mechanically fed between cylinders until the paper is completely printed and no hand printing is involved

Printing cylinders stored in the Cole & Son archive seen below.

Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (1)

  • Silk Screen Printing
    • A photographic negative is made of the pattern, it is then stretched over a wooden frame and the screen is coated with a light sensitive emulshion and the negative is placed on top of the screen.  Once hit with bright light the emulsion hardens in the areas not covered by the negative, forming a stencil
    • Stencils for each colour in the pattern are created from silk mesh screen using a photographic

Cole & Son have 350 screen print designs, a large quantity of original drawings and wallpapers dating back from the 18th Century to present day.  Amongst these are some of the most important historic wallpaper designs.

Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (5)

  • Digital Printing
    • Modern method.  It is more suited to shorter runs and bespoke projects.  Unlike the rotary printing method, digital printing is not restricted by the circumference of the cylinder and offers the freedom to tailor the scale of the design to any size


  • Non-woven wallpaper is made up of ground wood and synthetic materials, this gives the wallpaper its strength. Traditional paper was designed to be soaked before hanging to enable the paper to stretch. With new printing techniques, non-woven wallpaper has a different quality that means you can paste the wall and not worry about shrinkage. Cole & Son have been imaginative and used their wallpaper to upholster this sofa, though it is for display purposes only.

Cole & Son Head Office Visit - Kensington Design (4)