WOW-paper for high rollers: As Boris Johnson bemoans Carrie Symonds’ ‘golden’ wallpaper for the Downing Street flat renovations, here are some deluxe designs up to £1,500 a roll that will send you up the wall
From hand-painted chinoiserie with feathery plumes to antiqued leather coverings and bespoke decorated panels, wallpaper is back with a bang this year.
Long gone are the days of minimalist white paint or ‘edgy’ greys. Post-pandemic, more and more of us are embracing brave pattern and bright colour. And for those who prize individuality, this can mean bespoke and budget-busting. As even the PM has discovered.
Boris is said to have raged to aides about his fiancée Carrie Symonds ‘buying gold wallpaper’, saying he couldn’t afford the Downing Street flat renovations that cost ‘tens and tens of thousands’.
While the ‘gold’ might be classic Boris hyperbole, I don’t doubt the exorbitant cost (an eye-popping £840 per roll). Lulu Lytle’s designs have become a byword for a certain kind of taste in high-end circles.
We’re talking bold and brave, multi-layered with texture and a mix of old and new. It’s about breaking design ‘rules’. You can’t wallpaper a ceiling (the fifth wall) can you? You can’t put stripes with dots? Actually, in your own home you can. You can do whatever you like.
Well . . . a woman can. Usually. As for Boris’s objections about spiralling costs, I’ve heard them all before, in every home, at either end of the budget scale.
And women are pushing the boundaries more than ever.
Since the lockdowns had us stuck at home, staring at the same four walls day in and day out, suddenly there’s been this collective realisation that actually if leopard print makes you happy then, by god, deck the halls with it!
So as long as Boris did actually pay for it, I say good luck to Carrie and her opulent interiors. And about that wallpaper, it’s clearly not mass-produced rolls from B&Q — far more likely handmade, painstakingly hand-painted ‘wall coverings’.
And she’s certainly not the first to fall for made-to-order maximalism. They think of it as a contemporary way of doing art.
Gold-leafed parakeets? Yes, it’s possible. Wallpaper portraits of your pets? No problem. Some of these bespoke papers can take months to complete.
If you’re particularly wedded to pattern, you can even acquire wallpaper that can be waterproofed and sealed to go inside your shower.
You might complain that it’s hardly Boris and Carrie’s ‘forever home’. But high-end wallpaper can be applied to a panel rather than directly on to the wall.
Clearly, this kind of thing is for the few not the many — particularly as the pandemic has cost many their livelihoods.
But decorating need not break the bank. If you really love an expensive wallpaper, why not splash out on one roll and do behind the loo (aka throne room)?
You can’t overestimate the power of stepping over your threshold and feeling, ‘God, I LOVE that!’ If you want silver carpets and pompoms on your cushions, who are we to judge?
Homemaking, at its core, is about reclaiming ownership of a space. And Carrie Symonds is sure as hell putting her stamp on the Downing Street love nest.
I bet Boris is secretly delighted with his new plush pad. Less so the furore that followed.
Branch out, £375
his textured grasscloth wallpaper — hand-woven fibres on a rice paper — is printed with a black, charcoal and silver foil in the shape of a money tree
Money Tree by Thibaut, (janeclayton.co.uk)
This textured grasscloth wallpaper — hand-woven fibres on a rice paper — is printed with a black, charcoal and silver foil in the shape of a money tree . . . which you might need to afford it. Makers say it’ll fill your home with nature and good luck.
Dream on, £548
Said to depict a ‘magical kingdom’ only found in your dreams, it uses an array of bright colours
Jardin des Reves by Christian Lacroix, (beut.co.uk)
Bring the outside in with this garden panorama by designer Christian Lacroix. Said to depict a ‘magical kingdom’ only found in your dreams, it uses an array of bright colours. The makers suggest it for playrooms or bedrooms.
Fab ferns, £1,227
But with four to five rolls usually needed for one room, it could set you back more than £6,000
Raffia and Madagascar Cuba Libre by Elitis (beut.co.uk)
Printed on canvas, this design has a washable vinyl covering. But with four to five rolls usually needed for one room, it could set you back more than £6,000.
Floral flourish, £287
We’re talking bold and brave, multi-layered with texture and a mix of old and new. It’s about breaking design ‘rules’.
Aubriet by Designers Guild (beut.co.uk)
Cheer up your home with this pretty palette from Designers Guild. Whimsical, washable and in colours such as amethyst, pale pink and slate blue, it will give your room a floral twist.
French fancy, £1,560
Each roll is block-printed by hand and can be made to order with a bespoke background colour
Dahlias Toscana by Flora Soames, (florasoames.com)
This flamboyant pink covering is based on a 19th-century French wallpaper fragment. Each roll is block-printed by hand and can be made to order with a bespoke background colour.
Sold on gold, £1,150
If you want gold walls, then this is the one. Homemaking, at its core, is about reclaiming ownership of a space
Golden Oriole by Timorous Beasties (timorousbeasties.com) sold per panel
If you want gold walls, then this is the one. In lavish Dutch gold or silver leaf, it depicts a gnarled and twisted tree whose roots appear to grow out of the floor.
Wild side, £132
Even money, it seems, can’t buy taste — as shown by this glittery animal print from cult designers Osborne & Little
Panthera by Osborne and Little, (wallpaperdirect.com)
Even money, it seems, can’t buy taste — as shown by this glittery animal print from cult designers Osborne & Little. It’s made from textured linen.
Follow fashion, £448
Plaster your walls with beautiful poppies in hues of pink, blue, green, yellow and orange
Poppies by Missoni Home, (wallpaperdirect.com)
Plaster your walls with beautiful poppies in hues of pink, blue, green, yellow and orange, courtesy of this elegant design by Missoni Home from the Italian fashion house.
A Big Splash by Elitis, (fabricsandpapers.com)
Squares of blue, yellow, red, white and green make this rainbow wallpaper a riot of colour. The far-from-relaxing pattern is designed by Elitis and is washable and stain-resistant — making it ideal for messy kitchens or family homes.
Romantic rose, £360
Said to be ideal for a teenage girl’s bedroom, it’s reminiscent of a Renaissance painting
Ophelia Mural by Sidney Paul and Joanne Ganley-Yates (beut.co.uk)
With oversized dusky pink roses against a faded charcoal background, the designers have been inspired by vintage books and silent movies. Said to be ideal for a teenage girl’s bedroom, it’s reminiscent of a Renaissance painting.
Glorious gold, £582
The result is a luxurious wallpaper, silky to the touch and dripping with privilege
Metal Linen by F&P interiors, (fabricsandpapers.com)
Swap Downing Street gold for this rather more tasteful — and slightly cheaper — design, made from very finely-woven strands of gold thread. The result is a luxurious wallpaper, silky to the touch and dripping with privilege.
Tile style, £358 per roll
If shabby chic is for you, this design by wallpaper gurus Wall and Deco features retro tiles
Tell Me Tiles by Wall and Deco (wallanddeco.com)
If shabby chic is for you, this design by wallpaper gurus Wall and Deco features retro tiles with grey panels where it looks like tiles have fallen off.
PLUS, how to get your very own a room with a view
Taking things to the next level, this is known as ‘panoramic wallpaper’, forming a mural-like scene. Its English Landscape collection includes pastoral scenes and masterpieces from Gainsborough, painted by hand
English Landscape by de Gournay, £1,832.40 per panel (degournay.com)
Normally found on the walls of stately homes (Houghton Hall in Norfolk) and upmarket members’ clubs (Annabel’s in London), de Gournay wallpaper is a real indulgence.
Taking things to the next level, this is known as ‘panoramic wallpaper’, forming a mural-like scene. Its English Landscape collection includes pastoral scenes and masterpieces from Gainsborough, painted by hand. This mural comes in paper panels that go up like wallpaper. It’s all done bespoke, so rather than scaling the picture up or down to fit your measurements they handpaint the paper panels to fit your wall height. The design can include more than 20 panels (60 ft) Each one is 3 ft (91.5 cm wide), so, for a 5 m wide room you’d need six panels.
Each panel costs £1,832.40.
While it does indeed go up like wallpaper, they recommend you use a specialist installer because it needs trimming in a particular way, so you’ll need to budget for that, too!
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