Moving into one's first own place (even if it's rented) is a big step towards independence and autonomy. Finally one is free of the strict conventions and immobile style ideas of parents and guardians! Those who have only ever lived with their folks can now spread their belongings in (usually) more space and enjoy much more freedom in terms of living style. For couples and young families, the first home together marks the beginning of a new life.
But whatever the situation may be, wall design plays a major part in one's first own home, and wallpapers are a distinct favourite for many who aim to create a stylish, comfortable ambience. This guide will explain which aspects should be considered before selecting the right wallpaper, what should be discussed with the landlord before commencing the project, and how to achieve the perfect results. In some cases, the wallpaper will have to be removed before moving to another property, and choosing the right type of wallpaper is therefore essential.
Analysing the property and finding appropriate wallpapering concepts
You've found your dream home and cannot wait to have a go at realising your creative ideas. But in order to achieve the best possible results, it helps to spend some time analysing and planning first. Because even the most ingenious concepts should be compatible with the actual conditions.
Obviously, each home is different in terms of size and layout. The first own home might be a new build or recently renovated, or it might be in an older house where the landlord is happy for the walls to be newly decorated.
1. Analysing wall types
What condition are the walls in the new home in? This analysis is the basis for how you need to proceed.
There is a number of possible options:
- White wood-chip, newly hung or painted
- Other standard wallpapers, e.g. glass-fibre and textured wallpapers, newly hung or painted
- Rough plaster
- Smooth plaster with or without coat of paint
- Wallpapers put up by the landlord
- Special wall treatments, for instance clinker or wood panelling
Depending on the initial situation, the new wall design will be more or less of an effort - or perhaps even impossible (e.g. with clinker stone walls or similar, if the landlord wishes to keep them unchanged). It is possible to hang wallpaper on rough plaster or painted smooth plaster walls, but it requires a bit more effort and preparation, as well as the approval of the landlord. It also helps to think about how long you will probably be living there. If it is a specific limited stay, the decision will be different from a long-term unlimited tenancy. There needs to be a balance between effort, costs and benefits.
2. Discussing fundamental questions with the landlord
Before making actual plans for the interior design and choice of wallpaper, and depending on the initial situation, you might have to seek the approval of your landlord. Structural or architectural changes will also have to be approved by the landlord. When it comes to choosing wallpaper, landlords have a say as they will always have to think ahead to the next tenant. They might demand that the wallpaper is removed if its design and type potentially lower the chances of finding a new tenant. Generally speaking, landlords don't limit their tenants' choices too stringently, but the final decision is often made when possible future tenants are being shown round. If they don't like the wallpaper, the landlord can request it to be removed. Clauses in tenancy contracts requiring the removal of wallpapers before a move are unlawful. However, individual agreements are a distinct possibility. Furthermore, it depends on whether the rented accommodation was renovated previous to moving in, and whether it shows signs of wear and tear. Therefore it's best to always discuss all your relevant questions with the landlord.
3. Practical considerations for putting up and stripping wallpaper
All design and pattern wallpapers come either with a paper or non-woven carrier layer. For wallpapers with a paper carrier layer, a specific soaking time is required after applying wallpaper paste and before the wallpaper can be put up on the wall. Depending on the surface, these types can only be removed after dampening them, or they can be pulled off the wall in a dry state. In the latter case, the top layer comes off whilst the paper carrier remains on the wall as lining paper, or is removed by further dampening followed by scraping. Wallpapers with a non-woven carrier layer have two advantages: The wallpapering paste is applied directly to the wall, so there are no soaking times and the lengths of wallpaper are much lighter because they are dry. These types of wallpaper can later be pulled off the wall without a trace.
As it is your first own home, you might of course not want to scrimp and choose a more exclusive wallpaper model. Various design wallpapers require a large amount of patience, thoroughness and skill during the hanging process. Some examples are metal or foil wallpapers, glass beads or flock wallpapers. You can find a plethora of information regarding these unusual wallpapers under the relevant categories in our Shop. For particularly heavy wallpapers, it is recommended that a combination of wallpapering paste and dispersion glue is used in order to add adhesive strength. However, this has an impact on the process of removal. For those who daren't tackle their wallpapering project themselves, there's always the professionals. Simply consult your local painter/decorator.
We often come across the question whether it is a good idea to put up new wallpaper over old layers. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking - and in order to achieve the best results - the answer is definitely: No! For further information, please read our Guide Blog Wallpapering over old Wall décor - can it be done?
4. Room layout and appropriate distribution of furniture and accessories
Even when we first visit a potential new home, we tend to plan where things will go. For larger flats with separate rooms for various living spaces, the planning is usually relatively easy. Smaller flats, for instance when kitchen and living room are in one room, are a bit trickier. The given space needs to be used as cleverly as possible. The same is true for small bedrooms or bathrooms, or a narrow hallway. If there are particular architectural features like high ceilings and walls, ledges, or small corners and alcoves, they need to be considered when planning the interior and wall design. First of all, the interior design plan is created, which consists of the "floor plan" for various aspects of living and the arrangement of furniture and accessories in accordance with the space provided.
5. Functionality and characteristics of wallpaper
Designer wallpapers with fabulous patterns and materials don't just have a positive impact on the look and atmosphere of a room. Depending on their characteristics, they also boast a number of functional advantages. For instance, wash- and scrub-resistant wallpapers are suitable for "heavy duty" areas and rooms where humidity will develop, e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, children's rooms, entrance areas, and hallways. Textile and flock wallpapers have insulating and heat-retaining properties. Nature wallpapers made from grass, bamboo, and cork boast room-climate-regulating properties and increase one's general sense of well-being.
6. Rules for wallpaper selection and personal preferences
First of all it should be noted that when it comes to choosing wallpapers, the rules are nowhere near as strict as they used to be. However, there are basic signposts which are still valid, especially in terms of colours, colour combinations, pattern size, pattern arrangement, pattern design and with regard to room size, ceiling height, sloping ceilings, natural light and atmosphere. But when it comes to selecting wallpaper, the main impulses are of course personal taste and intuition.
Sometimes the temptation to turn one's first one home into Pippi Longstocking's Villa Villekulla or create a synthesis of ambitious interior design ideas is overwhelming. In theory, there is nothing wrong with that concept - just as long as everybody who lives in the home is happy with it. But spontaneity and an impromptu approach are seldom the right decision.
Just imagine that you have to re-organise a huge book collection according to topics. What do you think? Will your first attempt work, or will you need to re-structure your plan a few times before a functioning system develops? That's right - it is very likely that you will have to re-think and change your system. The same applies to your first own home. You need to settle in, make changes here and there, move pieces of furniture, etc. Here's our tip for you: Implement some of your ideas and leave room for adaptations.
If you take heed of the following tips (i.e. not rules), success is guaranteed:
- Dark rooms with little natural or only artificial light (small bathroom, attic), and small or narrow rooms benefit from wallpapers with light base or pattern colours.
- Large, spacious rooms can be separated into different areas with interesting pattern or design wallpapers.
- Horizontal patterns make high walls and ceilings look lower, low walls and ceilings can be visually "stretched" by choosing wallpapers with vertical patterns.
- A certain viewing distance is required for large-scale, wide patterns and those with visual effects and depth structures to unfold their full impact.
- Colours are mood barometers, they influence our emotions and perceptions, they can make a room appear larger and wider (light colours) or smaller and narrower (dark colours). Shades of red, orange or yellow are energising, promote conviviality, increase vitality and motivation, and have an uplifting and mood-enhancing effect. Green and blue are great for rooms where the focus is on concentration, relaxation, and clarity of thought. Purple is a sensual, magical colour; it awakens meditative powers and is balancing and stabilising. In many rooms, it is most suitable as an accompanying addition. White is pure, light, an ideal contrast for other wallpaper colours. Black, on the other hand, is a rebellious hue which, used as base or pattern colour, lends depth to the room.
- A feature wall is often enough to equip the room with an exciting, meaningful aura.
- The topic of flooring is often overlooked when planning aspects of wall design. Depending on its type, material and colour, it can clash with the new wallpaper, affecting the overall picture. It is therefore important to consider flooring as well as furniture and accessories right from the start in order to create a sense of harmony.
- Of course there is no such thing as the ultimate master plan, we are only human, after all. However, it makes sense to use pattern samples to make those difficult decisions. For every wallpaper model in our Shop, there is an option to "Order/Print a sample". An original pattern sample will clarify all characteristics of a specific model, especially those with unusual surfaces, structures or intricate details.
Our Blog contains numerous Guides with useful tips, solutions for a variety of potential issues, or the choice and selection of wallpaper, for instance: