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Living room wallpaper ideas – to transform a lounge with pattern, texture and colour

Ideal Home logo Ideal Home 9/29/2021 Jennifer Ebert
wall panelled wallpaper © Provided by Ideal Home wall panelled wallpaper

Living room wallpaper ideas are bigger than ever before. For years, we have been led to believe that painted walls are the only way to go but that is no longer the case as wallpaper grows in popularity. A plain and neutral paint base can indeed be a good starting point from which to build a decorating scheme, but if you ignore the spectrum of colours and patterns available in wallpaper, you could be missing out.

With more possibilities than ever, from bold blousy florals to captivating murals for those who want to make a big impression to plain textured designs, there's a wallpaper to suit all living room ideas and decors.

Living room wallpaper ideas

Many brands now produce both wallpaper and paint, so tricky decisions are often already made for you when it comes to creating perfectly coordinated combinations. Be brave and find colours and looks that work for you. Our pick of the best living room wallpaper ideas will inspire your wallpaper journey.

If you're new to hanging wallpaper, have a go at putting it up yourself. You might find it easy to begin with a small area, such as a chimney breast, to build up your confidence before you tackle a whole room.

1. Add depth to a colour scheme

Wallpaper no longer means you have to add standout patterns and prints. The trend for textured wallpapers is back, allowing you to add depth to a colour scheme without overpowering the space with pattern.

In this striking blue living room idea the wallpaper adds interest to the use of colour, preventing it from feeling flat but not distracting fro the blue colour scheme. Painting the skirting boards in the room helps to immerse the entire wall in a unified colour.

2. Imitate wall panelling with wallpaper

“Wall panels add subtle textures and still achieve their original function of maintaining warmth, fulfilling our longing for the tactility and natural materials that modern life is often lacking' says explains David Harris, Design Director at Andrew Martin. 'Wall panelling is often seen as a traditional addition to our homes but fast forward to today and many people are adding their own spin to panelling, making it a more accessible design trend, which makes it so relevant for decorating in 2021.'

'If taking part in this DIY task seems overwhelming, you can now achieve a wall panelling look through the use of wallpaper which offers the same effect requiring minimal effort.'

3. Enhance a rustic scheme

Use a living room wallpaper idea to add character to a decor scheme, such as this rustic country-style setting. Use a striking design to enhance the natural elements of your living room, such as woodland scene to add character to a cottage living room with exposed wooden beams and low ceilings. Choosing a wallpaper design around your existing decor will create a subtle yet stylish approaching to decorating.

4. Frame the fireplace with pattern

Wallpapering either side of a fireplace helps to cement your choice of wallpaper as the focal point for the room. Choose a wallpaper that contrasts but accents tonally with the paint shade on the chimney breast to help balance the scheme. The neutral linen upholstery and the washed wooden furniture help to anchor the look.

The yellow armchair cements the choice of accent colour in this grey and yellow living room idea, giving it more prominence.

5. Invite texture to walls

Where you're looking to add interest to wall surfaces but not wanting fully-on pattern, seek an alternative design that emulates the look of a distressed surface. By doing so your walls will ooze character and interest without overpowering the scheme by layering too much pattern.

The grey shades of this 'Fragments' surface wallpaper design offers a subtle warmth and shimmering effect, which gives walls a soft yet intriguing finish.

6. Coordinate pattern to match soft furnishings

Immerse the whole living room in coordinating pattern to add a real wow factor. Just be sure the room is large enough to take the look, often in small spaces too much pattern can overwhelm and make it feel claustrophobic. Take this fine example as best practise, where the pattern is soft and subtle, with a mid-tone green on a neutral ground. The light contrasting background helps to inject a brightness to the scheme, to prevent it from feeling too heavy.

7. Create a quiet corner for reading

There's nothing quite like a trompe l'oeil wallpaper to create a sense of intrigue, faking a set up that isn't really there. Take for instance this library-effect wallpaper, which creates the look of stacked bookshelves to dedicate a corner of this living room as an imaginative reading nook.

Clever use of wallpaper can create a sense of space, tricking the eye into making the space appear bigger than it really is.

8. Make artwork of a wallpaper design

Make a statement of a wallpaper by framing it. This creative idea allows you to use a wallpaper in your living space, in a more imaginative way. It's great for not only adding a quirky touch to the decor, it's also great if on a budget. Only one roll will be required to cover a smaller section of wall.

9. Dominate one wall with pattern

Choose the most dominant wall in the room to become a feature wall to position your chosen wallpaper design. This will most likely be the wall with the fireplace on, or if you don't have any architectural focus points it could be the wall with the TV – where all the furniture points towards. Creating a feature wall helps to anchor the remainder of the decor, directing all eyes towards the wallpaper.

10. Compliment a colour palette

Add a tonal wallpaper design to walls that sit cohesively beside painted walls. Keeping a coordinating colour scheme here stops even a busy prints from over powering the room.

11. Create a decorative backdrop

An open-back shelving unit can be backed beautifully by a decorative wallpaper. It's a great way to add layers to the look, creating even more of statement. To stop the busy wall from toppling the rest of the room keep furniture neutral for balance – a bright white helps to create a striking contrast.

12. Tie an open-plan 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.

13. Smarten up with pinstripes

Create a tailored, designer 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.

14. Clad a chimney breast in wallpaper

Embrace architectural details that lend a sense of charm to the space. The beautiful of decorating a small area with wallpaper means you save on costs because only one roll is required.

In this small living room idea the wallpaper helps to balance the fully stacked bookshelves either side of the fireplace, in the alcoves.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Make a statement with monochrome

After an effortlessly contemporary look for a modern living room idea? 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.

18. Go totally tropical with vibrant hues

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.

19. 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.

20. 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 - this zesty lime yellow occassional chair help to draw the room together. Use a neutral colour like beige to break up strong blocks of colour where needed.

21. Fake wood cladding

Use a creative wallpaper design to create a wood effect on walls. In this tonal living room the wallpaper fakes the effect of wood cladding, adding a rustic element to the decor. The tones within the design are picked out in the soft furnishings to make the scheme feel harmonious and effortlessly chic.

22. Add a touch of flower power

Bring a contemporary country living room to life with a floral wallpaper. Balance a large botanical print with plain painted walls for the rest of the room to make a real feature of the space. Here the wallpaper has only been used to create a striking feature wall behind a sleek walnut sideboard. Stick to plain or simple patterns in your soft furnishings, leaving the wallpaper to take centre stage.

23. 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.

24. Update an old classic

Create a contemporary 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.

25. Welcome nature indoors

Bring elements from the garden indoors with a classic wallpaper showcasing country flora and fauna. This spring-inspired country living room idea 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 fresh modern twist.

26. Set the scene

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 treatments and rug chime nicely with the feature wallpaper for a cohesive feel.

27. 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.

28. 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?

29. 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.

30. Get in touch with texture

Mimic the look of stacked stone and exposed brick walls with realistic-looking faux wallpaper. Great 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.

31. Wallpaper 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.

Loved this living room wallpaper ideas? We have plenty more wallpaper inspiration for you!

How to choose a living room wallpaper

There are many factors to take into consideration, aside form personal taste. Firstly consider how you use the room and whereabouts in the property it resides. In small living rooms a large scale patterned wallpaper might overpower the space. If the room is devoid of daylight for most of the day, busy patterns might also make it feel smaller.

If the space is an open-plan living room adjoined to the garden, a nature-inspired wallpaper might feel more at home – perfectly welcoming the outdoors in. If the room is more of a formal sitting room only used on occasions, the space might benefit more from a gentle print to create a calming, serene feel.

Where do you put wallpaper in a living room?

Do you have a Chimney breast or alcoves that would welcome wallpaper to make a characterful feature wall? In a living room generally speaking it's best to wallpaper the most obvious wall. so the one you see when you immediately walk into the space. The wall with the TV on, to help disguise it to some degree.

Feeling inspired to add wallpaper to your living room?

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