Opinions are divided regarding the use of wallpaper to decorate a child’s room. Some parents prefer the overall effect that a good wallpaper design can create while others prefer the simple maintenance which painted walls can provide. There are, of course, alternatives and compromises to both options, but we’ll cover more of this later.
The History of Children’s Wallpaper
The luxury of having sufficient space to provide dedicated rooms for children is a fairly recent phenomenon with most except the very privileged, so the history of children’s wallpaper is rather short. Early examples of children’s wallpapers have been discovered and thought to originate from the late 19th Century and it is believed that the use of wallpaper in children’s rooms and nurseries didn’t become commonplace until much later.
The first known designs of wallpaper for children were based upon the illustrations of the popular literature of the time with an aim to instilling a positive influence upon a child’s sensitivity to his or her environment.
As the use of wallpaper became more widespread so this idea continued – with most designs tending to be illustrative and featuring characters from children’s books, nursery rhymes and fairytales. Although the designs of wallpapers today have become more modern they tend to follow similar influences and themes.
The Victoria & Albert Museum have more on the history of children’s wallpaper.
Types of Wallpaper
The wallpaper is made from one single layer of paper, in various weights and thickness. Although the most traditional form of wall covering, paper is not particularly durable with finger marks and crayoning proving impossible to remove. Also, trying to line up the patterns makes for an interesting afternoon!
Vinyl or Washable Wallpaper
Often a paper backing which is laminated with a second vinyl patterned layer. The advantage here is that these kind of wall coverings offer the benefits of traditional wallpaper with the advantage of a durable surface which can be wiped clean and is more resistant to everyday damage. The disadvantage of vinyl paper is that there is little or no ‘give’ which means the walls need to be perfectly smooth and often lined to get a good result.
Sometimes referred to as ‘relief wall coverings’ these textured papers are popular with parents who want to cover existing walls but who also want the advantage of being able to paint the surface too. The textured surface serves to break-up the way light reflects from a plain wall surface and provides a softer and more complex visual effect. You can now buy lining paper which has a very fine texture and is a modern day alternative to the infamous wood-chip.
There are many on-line tools available to calculate how many rolls of wallpaper you will need. Generally, a standard roll of wallpaper will cover an area of 5m ² and an average sized room will need require between 8 and 12 rolls. When measuring for wallpaper it is best to over-estimate and to ignore doors and windows. You should also allow a certain amount for wastage and matching — depending upon the pattern. As a rule of thumb say 10% for plain or simple patterns and 20% to 30% for more complex designs.
The choice of wallpaper for your child’s room is no longer limited to simple character based designs. You have no end of designer papers available in bold and colourful designs, traditional vintage themes and an eclectic mix of floral prints to choose from which will transform a plain bedroom into a colourful and imaginative illustration of your child’s unique personality.
A funky take on traditional stripes from Urbane Living that doesn’t overpower the room and yet provides a great subtle colour focus that is easy to compliment with accessories and fittings.
This ‘Dinosaurs Rock’ wallpaper from Funky Little Darlings is dinotastic! The good thing about busy designs like this is that you can get away with the odd bump and lump and the effect is an instantly jazzed up room!
This Spitfires design wallpaper for boys from Paperboy makes a great background theme for your room which can then be further livened up with accessories. The pattern is effective yet simple making this one a good choice for wallpaper beginners.
Osborne & Little are a creative wallpaper company who have brought out this new range called Zagazoo which has been designed by Quentin Blake, so lovers of the Roald Dahl stories will instantly recognise his bright and imaginative illustrations. Some designs are available from John Lewis. You can imagine the effect this wallpaper will have on a room! It’s bright, happy and full of life.
What a Hoot is a popular range from the Harlequin children’s wallpaper collection and features delightful character birds whose personalities shine out from the illustrations. It’s a fab design and absolutely bound to hit the right note with your child! This one is available from John Lewis.
Wallpaper is an easy way to create an entire theme in a room and give it a fun, funky atmosphere. You don’t have to be an expert wallpaperer to tackle some of the more difficult designs and patterns, just make sure you get plenty to practise with and follow the tips given on the instructions. Most DIY stores are also happy to do demonstrations if you ask in advance.