“I should be scarred”: Darren Palmer shares his tips for getting wallpaper right

“I should be scarred”: Darren Palmer shares his tips for getting wallpaper right

Wallpaper can add a stunning visual to a room in a way that paint can’t match. Photo: Damien Bredberg

It’s no secret that I love wallpaper. I should be scarred just like anyone else who’s had to scrape it off their walls with a steamer, gouging the walls as you go, but I’m not.

I’m in love with wallpaper and the reason, apart from the myriad choices and suppliers, is that the technology means that those layered paper-backed wall coverings are no longer necessary evils if you want to adorn your walls with colour, texture, pattern and interest.

I think I first saw good wallpaper application in the work of friend and inspiration, Darryl Gordon, about 15 years ago.

Grasscloth paper is nothing new, but it’s definitely one of my favourites and he used it to great effect in a contemporary penthouse project that I thought was so beautifully layered and soft.

Silk threads aren’t great with direct sunlight. Photo: Supplied

When I started creating more layered versions of my own interiors, I turned to grasscloth paper and have never looked back.

Ralph Lauren makes some great grasscloths, so too does Schumacher. Boyd Blue has a great range of grasscloths that are generally carried in stock.

Then I discovered silk. Whoa Nelly, silk wall coverings are like grasscloth papers gone to heaven.

They’re more delicate, visually and also in terms of durability and UV resistance. Silk threads aren’t great with direct sunlight.

El’ise and Matt’s custom wallpaper on The Block. Photo: Channel Nine

They’re so beautifully fine and obviously sheeny that they look just like luxury. Fromental does some of the best and should any client I work with ever have the budget, I’d love to be able to use them one day.

If you’re looking for luxury, head back to Schumacher and check out their specialty wall coverings featuring silver leaf or real feathers in all of their pearlescent glory.

They’re pretty niche and rather expensive but, when you see them, you’ll want to do that weird thing I do on The Block and touch them, so appealing is their tactility.

Catherine Martin, yes the creative powerhouse behind The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge, has an amazing array of wallpaper designs, some influenced by the above movies or created for them, others being more tropical or appropriate to different periods or styles.

Hyams Beach renovation by Darren Palmer. Photo: Jacob Nassif

Her banana palm wall covering, which I’ve used in my own beach house, works beautifully as it’s printed on a vinyl backing meaning it’s a pretty easy DIY project for anyone patient enough or interested in an online tutorial.

The vinyl backing also means it will peel off easily when the time comes to remove it, simply pulling diagonally downward from a corner.

Elitis is another favourite that is also produced largely on non-woven backing – that is, a backing paper that stays in one piece rather than shredding into layers as the old style of papers used to, or on vinyl backing, which makes them even more robust.

It’s a brand I’ve used heavily over the years, with so many textured and interesting patterns and effects that have really turned my head away from painted walls to the amazing layering opportunities that few other wall treatments provide.

El’ise and Matt used many Grafico wallpaper designs on The Block. Photo: Channel Nine

Eurowalls have a huge array of low, mid and high-level priced product, with some really interesting 3D paintable textured wallpapers among their range.

One of my favourite suppliers for interesting patterned and whimsical wall coverings has got to be Scandinavian Wallpaper and Decor in Western Australia.

Don’t be put off if you’re on the eastern seaboard as they ship across the country and have done so for the teams on The Block and for me.

Grasscloth paper is nothing new, but it’s definitely one of my favourites. Photo: Stocksy

They have a beautiful array of mural-style wall coverings in a number of colours, styles and moods so you’re almost guaranteed to find what you want for your project.

Speaking of The Block, you’ll have seen Grafico on this season and seasons prior, creating custom wall coverings (and even custom printed tiles) for contestants to set them apart from the pack.

If you want to make your own wallpaper from your own inspiration or designs, Grafico is the place to go. I’ve recently used a brilliant, original artwork wall covering in this year’s Yourtown Christmas prize home in the second bedroom as an entire bedhead wall.

The sample was sent to me by Affordable Decorators in Queensland late last year and I have been looking forward to using it ever since.

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