Office Wallpaper - The Guide
Office premises often used to be dull and grey, or sterile and white. But businesses have long since recognised the fact that interior design in work areas is a significant factor in terms of motivation and performance. One aspect is a feeling of well-being, and ergonomic equipment helps as much to achieve this as attractive interior (and wall) design does. The lines between professional and private life are increasingly blurred and a comfortable ambience is equally important in company offices and private studies.
Emotions are part of everyday life, including the workplace, and the right wallpaper can make all the difference to one's emotional comfort. Colours, materials, structures, effects all bring zest, a good mood and creativity to working life - regardless whether it takes place in a large open-plan office, an individual workspace, a co-working space or a home office.
Table of Contents
- How to decorate an office?
- Paint or wallpaper for offices?
- Which colour should I choose for office walls?
- Which wallpaper is best suited for specific office areas?
- Which professional wallpaper design is recommended by experts?
- How to decorate home offices with wallpaper?
- Our tips: With our ideas for office wall design, working will be fun
How to decorate an office?
Choosing the most suitable type of wallpaper depends on the size of the office and individual conditions. Whilst pattern designs are perhaps less suitable for individual offices, open plan areas and co-working spaces provide more flexible design potential.
Individual office or study
In individual offices, functionality is everything. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to create a personal and motivating atmosphere. Attractive and practical-functional are not mutually exclusive terms. The best approach to such a project is a carefully considered design plan which focusses on the actual type of work and integrates the comfort factor into the equation. The right wall décor helps to realise the concept of "a home outside the home".
If colleagues have a say in choosing the wallpaper, an individual personal touch is often the result. For instance, memories and souvenirs create a strong sense of identity. A Scandinavian wallpaper pattern - minimalist and neutral in colour - can remind us of an unforgettable holiday in Sweden. Passionate yachtsmen will appreciate maritime patterns in white and blue. Wallpapered walls which tell stories make any office worker's stressful job more enjoyable and increase their motivation.
When it comes to the interior design of in open-plan offices, one of the most difficult challenges is the level of noise. Partition walls decorated with attractive design wallpaper can be a very useful method to decrease the din. They are both sound-absorbing and decorative. In addition, they divide open-plan offices into different zones which can provide a peaceful environment for individuals to help with concentration, or create private customer service and meeting areas.
Individuality is not as easily achieved in open-plan offices as it is in private office spaces, but there are certain options. Wallpaper can separate different departments within open-plan offices (e.g. visually and according to specialisation). For example: a funky number-themed wallpaper might suit the accounts department, whereas in sales environments, an opulent modern flock model might be a better choice, and the marketing department might be inspired by an unusual vintage wallpaper.
For young start-ups and small businesses, co-working spaces are cost-optimised solutions with high creative potential. There is a sense of working together, but all users of the common space are working for themselves. In contrast to open-plan offices, the wall design stretches across the entire office area as it is usually not separated by room dividers. The wall décor should be pleasant to both the people working in the space and to guests/clients. To keep it as neutral as possible and to avoid forcing a particularly specific design concept on anyone, the modern loft style is a good choice for the walls. Concrete imitation wallpaper models are a particularly suitable option, but red brick or wood imitations are great alternatives, too.
For relaxation areas with the obligatory table football and coffee bar, the lounge style might be more appropriate. Comfort and cosiness are the decisive factors here, which is why Vintage and Shabby Chic are preferred wallpaper themes for these areas. In newly built co-working spaces, architects often use their creative potential in the wash rooms, choosing unusual wallpaper designs in explosive colours. There are no limits to the imagination, and just about anything goes.
Paint or wallpaper for offices?
When it comes to muted room acoustics and fire protection features in office spaces, wallpaper provides obvious advantages to simply painting the walls. In terms of sustainability and healthy room climate, both options provide good solutions.
In contrast to wall paint, various wallpaper materials like non-woven types, textile and natural fibres, and even vinyl, offer a sound-absorbing effect plus, as a welcome extra, a certain degree of thermal insulation. Depending on the characteristics of the wallpaper (structure, texture) and its thickness, these effects can vary. Traffic or construction noise as well as the din from adjacent offices is partially absorbed and reduced. The level of stress that noise can cause has been proven to potentially cause health issues, but it can be kept in check with the right wallpaper type. Concentration and creativity are enhanced. Staff will feel happier because silence and tranquillity fill us with strength and energy. And the results of the additional heat insulation aren't just a general sense of well-being, but lower heating costs, too.
Environmentally friendly office design and a healthy room climate can be achieved with both wall paint and wallpaper, as long as they have the necessary characteristics, certifications or testing standards. "Green" (i.e. eco-friendly) colours without preservatives are the first choice for office premises (unless there are specific fire prevention regulations in place).
In terms of environmentally sound wallpaper, materials like recycled paper, cellulose, natural textile or plant fibres, and recyclable synthetic materials offer the best characteristics. Certifications, environmental quality labels and testing standards provide information with regards to production processes, absence of pollutants, and re-usability. We have put together a comprehensive overview regarding the most important labels indicating the absence of pollutants and the environmental safety of wallpaper.
Fire protection in public spaces
Office premises in public or commercial buildings often have to adhere to specific fire protection regulations, which also include those for wall paint or wallpaper. However, there are distinctive differences between these two possible options. Regular wall paints do not meet the requirements of fire regulations. Special fire-resistant paints in specific mixtures and on the appropriate underground are the only option. This limits the choice of paints.
Wallpaper models that correspond to the required European DIN fire protection standard EN 13501 or the German DIN 4102-B1have to be labelled as "low flammability" in the manufacturer's certificate. There is a huge choice of attractive design wallpaper with the label "low flammability" on the market. These are often robust non-woven types which provide a plethora of design options for office spaces. Upon request, we are more than happy to send you the relevant certificates for the wallpaper models available in our Shop.
Which colour should I choose for office walls?
The colour design of office and work areas belongs to the realm of so-called "soft ergonomics" which have a major impact on the attitude to work, motivation, performance and communication in company systems.
Theory of colours/psychological effect of colours
The colour design of office spaces is usually based on the findings of the theory of colours, the psychological effects of colours, space-optimising factors, light conditions and professional focus. Whilst the theory of colours analyses the perception of colours, different colour systems, the colour circle, and colour harmony, the field of colour psychology is dedicated to the effect mechanisms of colours with regards to our bodies and minds. Our subconscious reacts to colours and they can have a huge impact on our work behaviour, as scientists have found out.
In terms of the effects of colours, the evidence points at the following facts
- Increased productivity, performance and concentration
- Improved perception and processing of information
- Positive attitude to work, good mood
- Improved communication abilities
- More enthusiasm, motivational incentive
- Less mistakes or tiredness
- Stress reduction
- Increased sense of well-being, less absences due to illness/less fluctuation
- Balancing effect to environmental stressors (noise, smell, temperature)
- Improved relaxation and recovery
It can be useful to consult a colour advisor to help determine the best colour concept for a specific work space. Generally speaking, light colours and pastels should be the preferential choice, and too many or garish hues as well as very dark colours or an extremely bright white should be avoided.
Motivating colours in the office
When choosing a motivating colour which stimulates creativity and performance, it doesn't have to be for the entire room. A splash of colour - for instance a feature wall - can be sufficient to create the desired effect. An important factor to consider when it comes to choosing the right shade is which type of workspace needs an injection of motivation.
Red is stimulating, it promotes activity, communication and creativity. Self-assurance and decisiveness are improved. Team-working places, meeting rooms and offices where negotiations take place benefit from this colour - in moderate doses and lighter nuances. Soft, neutral colours provide the perfect contrast. In reception areas, peach-red and muted grey convey an open, welcoming atmosphere.
Yellow has a very stimulating effect. The colour of the sun prevents tiredness, bolsters enthusiasm and promotes optimism. In addition, it creates a good mood and provides balancing harmony. Lemon yellow, combined with white, is suitable for rooms where concentration and mental focus are important. However, when working with computers, the eye should not be drawn directly to a yellow wall as the colour over-stimulates the retina. Shades of yellow are also great for rest areas and breakrooms.
Orange promotes conviviality and sociability, it is warm and inspiring. Office premises where clients visit as well as meeting rooms benefit from shades of orange, as this colour creates the right ambience for successful communication. In addition, the colour orange helps make clients more willing to sign on the dotted line.
Blue is a cool and relaxing colour and as such perfect for rooms where clearly structured thinking and high concentration are required. Project development, new concepts and finding solutions for problems are all improved. Experts recommend light shades of blue, purple or violet.
Green is fresh, it stands for growth and renewal. On office premises that feature the colour green, creativity and concentration are enhanced. New ideas and perspectives have more room to grow. Pure, light hues of green or combinations with blue are ideal options.
Clever colour combinations are a great choice for office areas. Many experts recommend using at least two or three matching colours. Stark contrasts should be avoided. For instance, a combination of blue/yellow/green freshens up the office and promotes clear thoughts and creative processes. Grey/silver/chrome are great in the offices of executives and managers as they inspire organisational skills, the ability to delegate, and other important leadership qualities.
The proportion of the colours is as significant as the layout and partitioning of the room. 70/20/10% is the optimum proportion for three colours, 75/25% is best for two colours. Specialists often recommend dividing the room into two areas: a calm side with soft hues, and a stimulating, creative side with more intense colours. Neutral shades or "non-colours" like white, grey, black, beige, are very suitable as counterparts for stronger, more expressive shades.
Which wallpaper is best suited for specific office areas?
Representative character, focus on general office work, client contact, size and layout of the room - these are all determining factors for choosing the appropriate wallpaper in terms of colour, material and pattern design.
The reception area is the first point of call for clients and visitors and determines aspects like first impression and subjective company profile. Light and friendly colours, optionally matching the branding/logo of the company, are a great choice for this space. The wall décor should feel inviting, tasteful and modern, whilst also having an impressive impact. Generally speaking, the reception area focusses around a counter. The wall behind it is the best place to draw attention to the specific industry, the values and image of a company.
For instance, a jewellery manufacturer might want to emphasise their expertise in luxury products by choosing a sparkling glass bead wallpaper. Tropical, exotic wallpaper patterns are a great match for travel agents. In addition to the counter, reception areas often provide a waiting area with chairs for visitors. Here, the wall décor should be simple and of high quality. Single-colour textile wallpaper models in subtle colours are a great option.
Computer workstations have to serve a large number of different purposes: data acquisition or entry, accounts, creative design, project or product development, to name but a few. The choice of wallpaper should match the specific vocational activity. The work environment benefits from balancing contrasts which shouldn't overwhelm the eye or the mind. The walls that are seen in the periphery or directly should be decorated with tranquillity and motivation in mind, so any motifs that are too conspicuous or eye-catching are unsuitable. One-dimensional graphical patterns, stripes or minimalist floral designs are all good choices.
The customer is king (or queen!), and the area provided for advising them should reflect this motto. Choosing an elegant wall décor doesn't just increase a customer's sense of well-being, it also fosters a target-oriented sales or negotiation process. In practice, colours like warming red and orange, brown, gold, black, and grey have all proven to be of advantage. In terms of wallpaper design, it goes without saying that a connection to the business focus is the most obvious idea. For instance, architects might emphasise their professional nous with geometric patterns, whilst a wedding planner may set the scene with a sensual-romantic floral design. But be warned: Don't overdo the luxury element. It could create a false impression of your pricing structure.
This is where new projects and plans are born. Therefore, it is of the utmost significance that employees, business partners and potential clients are focussed and attentive. Feature walls with stimulating pattern designs are one tried and tested way to achieve this. Wallpaper patterns with asymmetric geometry motifs, abstract art, or eye-catching lines increase the ability to concentrate immediately and continuously. Shades of purple, red, yellow, and orange, combined with neutral hues, foster communication.
Breakroom (rest areas)
Employees need a calm place to relax, and the right pattern design can help body and mind to reach a state of tranquillity and quiet contemplation. Good examples are motifs of far-flung, perhaps mystical places. Wallpaper patterns inspired by Japan, China or India automatically make us "press Pause". Behind sinks or coffee machine, scrubbable wallpaper models are best as they can be cleaned thoroughly with a damp cloth or sponge. In smoking areas, wallpaper types with low flammability are required.
Which professional wallpaper design is recommended by experts?
Wallpaper designs often "talk" through their patterns. Just like colours, they appeal to our innermost selves, they trigger emotions and remind us of certain experiences. Experts' recommendations clearly indicate specific wall décor designs which enhance and promote smooth working processes:
Circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, diamond shapes - in terms of pattern design, these geometric shapes can feature alone or in a plethora of combinations. Each element has its own dynamics, the shapes are familiar and ever-present. Geometric designs provide clarity, direction, order; they sharpen the mind and convey a sense of infinity. Geometric patterns promote clear thinking and creativity, they help us focus on finding solutions and can afford us moments of relaxation.
Modern wallpaper designs aren't tied down by specific materials, patterns or characteristics. They represent what is en vogueright now in the world of art, fashion, architecture, interior design, and lifestyle. Colours are also inspired by trends or present experimental options. Modern wallpaper models always provide a pleasingly individual component. In offices and meeting or conference rooms, they inspire innovative and future-oriented points of view, unconventional mindsets, the courage to think big and develop new and imaginative solutions.
Vintage designs awaken memories and can provide a glimpse into the history of a company. Creative business processes are based on past experiences as well as a view to the future. Familiarity is the foundation of innovation. Vintage wallpaper inspires the imagination and recharges lost energy. Be it 60s Flower Power or the Space Age designs of the 70s: Find inspiration in the visionary pioneering spirit of each era.
Less is more. This motto is perfectly suited to minimalist designs. They are characterised by individual elements of the same kind or corresponding pattern elements, mostly following a clear symmetry. The often muted matching colours are graded or feature light/dark contrasts. Frequently, attractive structures and materials are quite sufficient. These beautifully understated wallpaper designs are the perfect option for contemporary and stylish offices.
Many companies wish to set themselves apart from the mainstream in order to avoid being part of the amorphous mass or, worse still, being indistinguishable from the competition. What they are after is wall décor that is as unique and individual as the business itself. Unusual patterns, flamboyant colours or specific surface materials can all provide a sense of uniqueness. Office areas with customer/client access, or meeting and conference rooms can be designed with this in mind and set the scene for the desired way of communication and negotiation. Extravagance attracts attention and sticks in the memory.
How to decorate home offices with wallpaper?
Home offices or studies benefit from motivating and stimulating wall design. As far as décor options go, there is of course a lot more scope. Nevertheless, even in one's own home, the office area should retain a professional character.
Home Office (women/men)
In home office environments, different wallpaper design options might appeal more to men or to women. Women often prefer light, natural colours, warm shades of red, yellow or purple. Modern art, large-scale floral patterns or unusual figurative motifs create the right working atmosphere. A glamorous wallpaper reflects a feminine personality.
In contrast, men often favour natural, minimalist and modern looks. In terms of imitation wallpapers, the male of the species tend to prefer rugged wooden planks, earthy red brick, or cool concrete. For a touch of luxury, metal or deceptively real looking leather imitation wallpaper models are good options. Blue, grey, brown, and green are the colours usually preferred by men.
In studies or home offices, the wall behind the desk is a great option for wallpaper décor. The specific design can either be related to the professional focus or provide an interesting contrast to it. It can also pick up on certain aspects of a specific profession. A lawyer, for example, might wish to convey seriousness, reliability and competence, which can be achieved with a premium-quality, elegant wallpaper made of luxurious materials. An engineer might prefer clear geometric designs or an inspiring natural material like bamboo. For teachers, balancing, minimalist designs are a great option as they reduce stress.
Our tips: With our ideas for office wall design, working will be fun
- Wallpaper models with picture frame motifs are a good choice for staffrooms. Photographs of "extra-curricular" activities with colleagues, e.g. sports events, can be attached to them, providing conversation topics and amusement.
- Exclusive cork wallpaper models can be turned into large pin boards with plenty of room for notes, appointments, and ideas.
- For brainstorming sessions, functional modern chalkboard wallpaper can become a very useful tool. It can be used to draw and write on, and to jot down ideas or messages. Alternatively, whiteboard wallpaper is a relatively new concept which has swiftly become very popular.
- For those who'd like the Chi to flow freely in their office environment, we recommend these Feng Shui Rules, which can also be applied to wallpaper décor.