Dress your walls in style
Designing your decor involves many tough choices. Should you cover the walls with paint and, if so, what colour? Maybe wallpaper is better, you tell yourself, but what type of print? Of course, wainscotting is nice, too.
To determine which material will best create the mood and character of your room, first establish a desired look, says Toronto interior designer Anna Merotto. Wood usually conveys country charm, while fabric can convey a sense of luxury. Then, analyse the room's function. The walls of a playroom shouldn't be covered with pricey silk and bathroom walls should be covered with moisture-resistant tiles.
For interiors, use an oil-based eggshell or satin finish or a water-based emulsion, which is simple and quick to apply, though perhaps not the most hardwearing. Keep in mind that the glossier the finish, the easier to wipe clean once it has dried. Also remember that darker hues seem to shrink a room, while lighter tones can seem to enlarge and brighten it by reflecting light.
For added texture, try sponging for a cloudy effect, rag-rolling for a distressed look and spattering for a 3-D feel. Whatever you do, "Always buy a better-name paint," says Anna. It will provide superior colour and coverage.
Again, don't forget to consider the function of the room. Some papers, such as vinyl, can take quite a beating while others, such as grasscloth, can be ruined by a drop of water. Washable wallpaper accepts a light, soapy cleaning every now and then, while scrubbable wallpaper can withstand real elbow grease and a soft brush.
If you tend to redecorate every few years, opt for a strippable wallpaper, which pulls off effortlessly without any leftover residue. With peelable paper, only the top layer comes off easily. Regardless which you choose, tack up a piece and evaluate it for yourself. Just like paint, the appearance can differ in morning, afternoon and evening light.
For short rooms, consider placing wood strips vertically to create the illusion of height. Conversely, horizontal strips will elongate a narrow room. If you feel floor-to-ceiling wood is too much of a good thing, try wainscoting — panelling placed only on the lower part of the wall. It's a great way to showcase art and to add a homey feel.
"Mosaic and glass tiles give a nice reflective value for small spaces," says Anna, while tile, in general, is "very easy to clean and very hygienic." Be sure the surface is smooth before laying tiles, otherwise they may crack and may be difficult to replace.
For an elegant, textured room, Hessian, felt, wool and silk are top choices. Some of these fabrics are paper-backed and can be hung like wallpaper. Others are stapled to battens. But proceed with caution: fabrics are tough to clean and not as hard-wearing as paint or tile. They should be reserved for rooms with limited traffic.