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Modern blue and white living room with trickle-down paint

Modern ways to decorate with wallpaper and paint

If you think you know all the ways to use paint and wallpaper, think again. We’ve put together some innovative design ideas on how to use these decorating materials to create new, contemporary room designs.

Forget unimaginative magnolia walls — paint can be used to great effect. Consider applying paint to create a beautiful ombre or ‘trickle down’ paint effect for a room that’s awash with gorgeous colour.

It’s also possible to use paint to create unusual effects, for example the illusion of a headboard achieved by painting wall paneling above a bed in place of a real headboard.

Paint can also be used to highlight decorative features, wall art or add extra interest to everyday pieces such as a wall clock accentuated with a painted design on the surrounding wall.

Wallpaper, particularly trompe l’oeil designs, can also be cleverly used to trick the eye and add depth and interest to a room. You’ll find beautiful modern examples that depict wall panels, bookcases, weathered wood and quirky designs such as luxurious button-back upholstery — for walls!

If you just can’t decide on which wallpaper design to go for, there is a solution. Consider using fixed wooden paneling to break up the large expanse of wall — and decorate with squares of four or five papers for a contemporary arrangement that will look like large-scale wall art.

Be brave and experiment with wallpaper. Mix it up with different textures, luxe finishes such as subtle sheens, and vibrant motifs. For a beautiful Moorish feel, layer up different patterns such as geometrics and abstract wallpapers and combine with blocks of deep blue.

Trickle-down paint effect
Fill an empty sealant tube with paint and experiment by letting it drip down walls in a freefall pattern. Echo the liquid lines with painterly curtains and furnishing fabrics, and trompe l'oeil wallpaper.

Get the look: The wallpaper is from the Engineer collection at Andrew Martin. The curtain fabric is by Boeme. The armchair is upholstered in fabric from Sanderson.

Looking for white and grey bedrooms? Have a peruse through our stylish Scandinavian bedroom ideas gallery for inspiration.

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Photograph by Jan Baldwin