Chic and charming wallpapers for student digs and shared houses

In urban and metropolitan areas, a room in a shared flat or house is a cost-effective solution for a specific time in a young person's life. Students, trainees, youngsters who are just starting out on the career ladder and young professionals often choose this option.

Most student digs or rooms in shared houses are kept in a neutral white or off-white and often have the "aura" of a slightly grubby teenage room. There is absolutely no good reason for this, as our extravagant and stylish design wallpapers introduce flair and charisma into any room. It'll make coming home and enjoying your own personal environment a much more attractive prospect.

In rooms of all sizes, the interior design aspect determines our well-being significantly. This guide explains how even the smallest home benefits from design and pattern wallpapers in terms of atmosphere and chic. But this is by no means a small challenge. Fear not: we will also provide some alternatives to wallpaper.

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Multifunctional rooms in shared houses

A room in a flat/house share is by its very nature multifunctional: It's is bedroom, study, reception area for guests, retreat for private moments and hobby area, all at the same time. Various pieces of furniture, accessories, and belongings have to be stored intelligently within a limited space. This should of course be taken into consideration when selecting wallpaper. Whilst each specific area is usually in a separate room for which any wallpaper can be chosen, flat share accommodation requires a harmonising design suitable for all of the above specifications. Colours and patterns play an important role, as they have a significant impact on the proportions of a room and the general ambience. A student room predominantly used for studying and sleeping needs a wallpaper that both these activities will benefit from - not be negatively affected by. And let's not forget personal preferences for wallpaper designs. In order to meet all these demands, a bit of careful planning is required - and we are happy to help you!

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First things first: Talk to the landlord

During the interview for a student/flat share room, the topic of decorating is often discussed and the applicant will find out whether or not the walls have to stay as they are or whether individual changes are allowed. Most of the time, the room will be painted in a neutral colour or have a simple wallpaper. In some cases, there might be some wall cladding or panelling. In terms of a new take on the design, this will usually require some redecoration - but always make sure the landlord agrees to this to avoid unnecessary issues.

Some landlords do not want the rooms to be redecorated. But fear not, there are clever alternatives that will enable you to "sneak in" your favourite design or pattern wallpaper.

Today's market offers a wide variety of wallpaper types which differ not only in terms of material but also in terms of how the wall surface is prepared, how the wallpaper is put up and how it is removed. The landlord can demand that the original state of the room is restored when the tenant moves out. After all, wallpaper designs are a question of taste and many landlords prefer a neutral tone in order to avoid putting off the next tenant.

This can cause problems if the wallpaper is hard to remove from the surface because special glue or dispersion adhesive was used, or the wallpaper was applied on plasterboard without the correct surface preparation.

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To avoid issues of that nature, just follow these guidelines:

  • Talk to your landlord and ask, if the wall décor can be changed and whether the new wallpaper would need to be removed when you leave.
  • Make sure you find out what the walls are made of, e.g. concrete, drywall, brick. plasterboard. Depending on the material, the surface has to be prepared in a suitable manner; find all necessary information regarding this topic in our Wallpapering Guide How to prepare the wallpapering surface. If you are dealing with rendering/rough plaster or a tiled surface, more effort is required to prepare the surface. "Recreating" these surfaces to their original state is not an easy task so it is advisable to refrain from wallpapering projects and resort to one of the alternative approaches.
  • We recommend to consider wallpapers that are easy to remove when the time comes to leave. Non-woven wallpapers are easy to hang and easy to take off. Contrary to paper-based wallpapers, they do not require soaking as the adhesive is applied directly to the wall. Non-woven wallpapers are inherently more stable and can simply be pulled off the wall (again, no need to soak). Paper-based wallpapers/wallpapers with a paper carrier layer can be divided into those that require soaking and those that can be removed in a dry state (from the carrier layer). In terms of taking the wallpaper down, the effort is similar for both types as even for those wallpapers that can be taken off in a dry state, the carrier layer will remain on the wall and will then have to be taken down separately.

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Wallpaper design in harmony with existing furnishings

When moving into a flat share, most tenants already have a their own household equipment or are in the process of purchasing the basics. These should match the wallpaper to create a harmonious picture. This can be achieved by choosing the same, similar or contrasting colours and materials. If there are any patterns present, their colours should be reflected in furniture and decorative accessories. Too many colours create a "loud" atmosphere and should be avoided. Furniture made from natural wood in warm, light colours is compatible with just about any choice of wallpaper whilst pieces made of metal (e.g. iron or aluminium) and white plastic are also extremely versatile. The clearer and simpler the choice of furniture, the more pattern options are available.

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How to make the most of the room layout and proportions with the right wallpaper

In big cities, there is often a queue of people competing for the same room as living space is scarce and expensive. As a result, expectations as to the size and layout of the room in question have to be managed - the main thing is, after all, that the place is safe and comfortable.

Small, not enough natural light, ceilings that are too high or too low, roof slopes, nooks and crannies, corners and ledges - all of these disadvantageous characteristics can be impacted positively by selecting the most suitable wallpaper. Larger rooms can be separated into various areas of functionality by the clever use of wallpaper.

Small rooms are made to look more spacious and bright by choosing cool, light pattern colours. Warm and strong colours like red or orange should be avoided unless they feature in a delicate pattern on a light background. Narrow horizontal patterns, e.g. stripes, open the room up and make it appear wider. The colour of the furniture should be reflected in the wallpaper to provide more depth for the room. Evenly distributed, smaller patterns create a balanced atmosphere. For those who prefer larger, more spectacular patterns, a feature wall could be the answer (for instance behind the bed or desk). Patterned wallpapers with multi-dimensional effects usually need a certain viewing distance to unfold their full impact and are only suitable for small rooms when applied to end walls as a visual highlight.

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"Tube-shaped" rooms can feel slightly claustrophobic. However, there is a large variety of wallpaper ideas that can create an attractive visual change. Check out our Guide Visually enlarge a narrow hallway… to find a plethora of hints and tips on how to select the right wallpapers to apply some "real" magic, many of which will be relevant for long narrow rooms in flat shares, too.

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If there is very little natural light in a room. light colours, for instance delicate pastel hues in both pattern and background, are preferable because strong and dark colours "absorb" light. By way of contrast, dark accessories are a fabulous way to make the light colours appear even brighter. A student room with big windows and a large amount of daylight allows for the use of darker wallpapers. Large-scale patterns should not be visually interrupted, so they should be reserved for the windowless walls, where they can play the main role.

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Low ceilings can create an oppressive ambience. Light colours on ceilings and walls are a main factor when it comes to avoiding this effect. A vertical stripe pattern on the wall will make the room appear longer; delicate floral or small-scale geometric patterns have a similar effect. The patterned wallpaper should be flush with the ceiling. The exact opposite is true for high ceilings where the aim is that they should appear lower. Here, colours should be darker and large-scale or vertical patterns are the best solution, just as long as the room is big enough.

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Ledges, corners or "weird" angles can even be emphasised in a beautiful way with a gorgeous patterned wallpaper. This creates a focal point and provides movement. The same is true for sloped ceilings which, with the right wallpaper, can become a real eye-catcher. Our practical Guide How to wallpaper sloping/slanting ceilings… provides plenty of ideas and tells you how to turn them into reality.

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All aspects of wallpaper at one glance

Choosing the right wallpaper for a room in a shared house should be based on a step-by-step approach. The following To Do List will help you.

  • Stand in the middle of the room and listen to your inner voice. Which colours, patterns or materials pop up in your mind? Jot them down in a list.
  • Now add which parts of the room could benefit from a visual correction (e.g. ceiling too high, not enough natural light, etc.).
  • Draw a rough sketch of the room, including all relevant measurements and "awkward" room parameters like ceiling slopes, corners, ledges. Now add your furniture and fixtures to the sketch. If you're happy with the result, note the colours of the furniture.

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  • With any luck, you will get a certain idea of the best wallpaper colours, patterns, structures and effects during this process. This is what we call instinct - and it always follows our own preferences and taste. A favoured pattern theme can also be an indication of the type of wallpaper you might want to choose, for instance nature (flowers, landscapes, floral motifs, grass or cork wallpapers), Asia Style, Scandinavian Look, Romantic, Oriental Magic, Retro (50s, 60s, 70s, Space Age), Geometric or Pop Art patterns, Tropical Paradise (parrots, jungle, Caribbean blue), Urban Cool in a stone, brick, wood or tile look. Wallpapers from the 70s provides you with a huge choice of patterns, designs and special materials for any conceivable theme.
  • The next step is to make your ideas a reality. Consider the following points: Changing the proportions of a room, creating harmony between furnishings and wallpaper, combining functionality and visual impact (stimulating, calming). Here is an example: If you prefer a funky geometric pattern with depth and three-dimensional effects, choose the right pattern size and colours for the specific layout of the room. A feature wall might be all that it takes to add a certain je ne sais quoi. Pattern samples - which you can print out (A4 format) or order via our Shop - will help you select your dream wall décor.

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Alternatives to wallpapers

Even if wallpapering the entire room or a feature wall is out of the question or too much effort, there is no reason why you should do without a cool designer wall treatment. Our pattern wallpapers can be used to beautify furniture or chipboard/wooden panels, or how about creating your own piece of art and introduce a personal touch into your new abode? Find out all about the practical approach to these creative ideas in our Guide How to decorate furniture with wallpaper.

Room dividers with fabulous patterns

A large room in a shared place can be divided into various areas. Possible options for a room divider are wardrobes, long sideboards or chests of drawers, shelves with a back wall or a (foldable) screen. Simply apply your favourite wallpaper décor to the back of a wardrobe, chest of drawers or a shelf unit or use it for both sides on a screen partition made of plastic or smooth wood.

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Patterned wallpapers turned into pieces of art

Pieces of thin plywood or chipboard are extremely suitable for creative wallpaper ideas for shared homes. Once created, they can be framed (or left unframed) and put up on the wall (or simply left leaning against it). Large formats are especially well suited for patterned wallpapers. Panels of 1.5 - 1.8 m in height and up to 50 cm in width are especially attractive when covered with the stunning wallpaper of your choice. They can be placed in various areas of a room, and moved at the drop of a hat. Why not place a number of them in a row? You can add functionality to your mobile board by using a chalk wallpaper which can be drawn or written on. And if you are looking for the perfect place for your favourite photographs, our wallpaper models Frames or Familjen are the perfect solution.

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Or how about creating a crazy, colourful and unique wallpaper mosaic by combining various original pattern samples in an A4 format and arranging them on a square wooden panel to an eye-catching piece of art?

But smaller formats are not without merit either, for instance if you hang a number of them next to each other on the wall. The fantastic creative sets by Le Monde Sauvage open up a large number of extravagant options.

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Another way to put together an XXL wallpaper poster as an individual decorative piece for the wall is the use of a poster rail. Cut a piece of your favourite wallpaper décor off the roll. The length should almost reach the height of the room. Now attach poster rails to the top and bottom - voilà! This looks particularly attractive if you place a few of those poster strips length in front of a white wall.

How to improve the look of furniture and surfaces with patterned wallpapers

Tabletops, drawer elements, wardrobe or sideboard doors, the inside of the back wall of a shelf unit - many surfaces are practically calling out to be beautified with the help of an interesting design wallpaper. There are two good reasons for this approach: firstly, tatty or shabby pieces of furniture are given a new lease of life, and secondly, the room acquires a striking individual touch.

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