Wall coverings

Walls account for the largest surface area of a room, making the choice of a decorative finish very significant. Whether it be mosaic tiles, flock wallpaper or vinyl paint, the finish will influence the entire room’s character.
interior design bedroom ensuite bathroom bespoke cupboards

The choice of wall decoration is dependent upon suitability of appearance, amount of maintenance needed, and cost. Living areas and bedrooms, for example, have relatively minor maintenance problems and the choice for these rooms is likely to be made mainly on the basis of the colour, pattern and texture required for the particular room.

A painted or wallpapered surface might be the most likely choice, although other appropriate finishes could be wood panelling or boarding. Rooms which are liable to high humidity,such as kitchens and bathrooms, need a more durable surface capable of withstanding water splashes, detergents or grease marks and regular cleaning. Tiles, plastic laminates or, in the less vulnerable areas, vinyl wall coverings, would be suitable choices for these areas.

Paint or wallpaper?
bedroom wallpaper london
In rooms that do not require a particularly durable surface, and have suitable wall surfaces (such as smooth plaster with no cracks), the least expensive wall decoration will usually be a painted finish. This may also be the best choice on other grounds. The advantages of paint are that it is readily obtainable from stock without special ordering, inexpensive, can be applied by a competent handyman, and it is the least frustrating way to obtain the colour you want. With wallpaper, hours of searching through pattern books may fail to produce the colour required in a suitable pattern.

But with paint the availability of a wide range of standard colours and the facility for precise mixing of special colours make it possible to obtain an exact choice. Mistakes can be corrected more easily with paint as well. If you find, for example, after hanging one or two pieces of wallpaper that the scale of the pattern or the general effect is not as anticipated, it will be necessary either to live with your mistake, or to reject the whole supply outright and buy fresh stock. If, however, a sample panel of paint indicates the colour is strong or the hue needs adjusting, it is a simple matter to mix in the appropriate corrective colour. Always prepare a test panel and check this before proceeding with an entire room, since a small pattern on a colour card can give a false impression of the effect over large areas.

Varieties of paint
All paints are basically similar in composition consisting of a pigment mixed in a suitable medium, with various additives to improve certain qualities. Hard gloss oil paint uses linseed oil as its medium, mixed with pigment, a thinner to improve workability, and a drier to speed up drying. A traditional finish for woodwork, it is usually applied to walls only when a durable, washable surface is required. Before beginning to paint it is essential that the wall is dry, since the paint forms an impervious film which will not allow moisture to evaporate; if dampness is present, it will normally cause blistering and flaking of the paint layer. Because it is non-absorbent, a gloss paint surface on walls or ceiling in a room subject to high humidity will cause condensation-in severe cases water will collect and drip from the ceiling and run down the walls. It is not, therefore, a very suitable material for kitchens and bathrooms, although in the past it was often used in these areas because of its washability.

Today, however, there is a wider choice of more suitable finishes, made from various synthetic resins and marketed under different trade names. Condensation in kitchens and especially in bathrooms will occur to some extent, no matter what type of wall covering you choose to use. Enamels formerly meant paints designed solely for applying to metal or clay surfaces which are fired at high temperatures to produce a stoved finish (vitreous enamel), but the term is often used loosely today to describe a superior hard gloss paint for normal use. It is especially good to use on flush surfaces such as cupboards or on areas where a fine finish is wanted. Most gloss paints can be thinned with mineral turpentine substi tutes, but it is important to follow the manufacturers’ directions as some have complex compositions.


Cutting the wallpaper

Unroll the wallpaper face (‘right’ side) upwards. Measure the length required and cut off 51-102mm (2-4in) below this (the additional amount is for easing the paper at the top and bottom). If the paper is patterned, find the first complete motif and cut off 25- 51mm (l-2in) above. Measure the length, and cut off 25-5.1 mm (1-2in) below. These extra amounts allow you to position the paper accurately, and to ease it in at the top and bottom. Cut the next length, checking that the pattern matches exactly at the top and sides, again allowing the additional inches at top and bottom. Lay the cut lengths on top of each other. Cut 2-3 lengths before pasting. Turn the pile over, so that the ‘wrong’ side now faces upwards, with the first cut length on top.

Pasting the wallpaper

Arrange the pile of paper centrally on the width of the pasting board, so that a little board shows on either side of the paper and the top edge of the paper is on your right. If the paper is longer than the board, have the overhang on your left. Push the top length only so that its far edge slightly overlaps the edge of the board. This is to avoid getting paste on to the board, and then on to the face of one of the other sheets. Apply a liberal brushful of paste along the centre of the length of the paper, and brush out to the far edge. Always brush outwards, as there is a danger of paste getting on to the face of the paper if you brush inwards.

Slide the paper towards you, so that the unpasted side now slightly overlaps the near side ol the board. Brush the paste from the centre to this edge. When the length on the table has been pasted, lift both the corners on the right edge and bring them over to make a large fold, without creasing (the pasted sides will be facing). Gently draw the paper along the table until the unpasted portion is flush with the left-hand edge of the board. Paste this length as before and then bring this section over and down to meet the first fold. As each length is pasted, place it on another table to ‘rest’. This lets the paste soak in-the time depends on manufacturers’ instructions-and the paper becomes supple.

Hanging the wallpaper

Lift the first length of paper over your arm and carry it to the wall. Unfold the top half and, holding the length carefully, place the top edge in position, easing it upwards until the 25-51mm (1-2in) excess overlaps at the top. Keep the side edge exactly level with the plumb line. If the corner is vertical, ease the paper into it exactly. Otherwise let it overlap into the corner. Smooth along the top of the piece with the paperhanger’s brush to hold it in place. Now smooth down the centre and out to the sides in a series of arrowhead motions. This movement eliminates air bubbles, and spreads the paste evenly on the wall. Don’t brush from side to side, as this could move the paper out of position.

Try not to over handle or stretch the paper. If any paste seeps out from the sides of the paper, wipe it off with a rag. Keep the paperhanger’s brush completely clean, and don’t let any paste get on to the ‘right’ side of the paper. Check again for correct placing, then unfold the bottom section and smooth it out, brushing it as before, until the whole length is completely flat without creases or blisters. The bottom edge will overlap the skirting board. Run the back edge of the scissors along the paper into the angle between the wall and the cornice or picture rail. Ease the top of the paper from the wall gently, and trim off the excess paper along the crease. Now repeat the procedure at the bottom, where the wall meets the skirting board. If you overlapped the paper into the corner, trim off the excess in a similar way. Smooth the paper back into position. Hang the next pieces of paper in the same way, butting the edges together (do not overlap them) and carefully matching the pattern. Run the seam roller down the joint when the paste is nearly dry.

Lining Paper

Lining the walls with lining paper

For a really first-class wallpapering job, always use a lining paper under the wallpaper. It provides an ideal surface of even porosity, to which the wallpaper and its adhesive will marry, particularly if the wallpaper is heavy (the principle being that paper sticks to paper more firmly than to plaster). Heavy papers, especially embossed ones, have a tendency to stretch as their fibres first absorb the paste but shrink on drying. This can mean that the joints (joins between pieces) open because the paper loses its grip on the plaster surface.

lining paper

Lining paper prevents this happening. Another advantage of lining papers is that they can disguise a ‘bad’ surface, as well as having some insulating value. The method of pasting and hanging lining paper is similar to that for wallpaper. It is best hung horizontally as the finished effect is smoother. This makes the paper rather difficult to handle on a long wall, so you should fold the paper, without creasing, concertina fashion (always with pasted side to pasted side). Start in the right hand corner of the wall and, holding the paper with your left hand, brush it out with your right hand (reverse this if you are left handed). If you prefer to hang the paper vertically, stagger the joints with those of the wallpaper to avoid the possibility of ridges. Like wallpaper, lining paper should be butt-jointed (the pieces are positioned edge-to-edge,with no overlap).

Wallpaper Adhesives

Make up the adhesive according to the directions given on the packet at least 2O minutes before you want it. This gives it time to absorb the water properly and become completely smooth.

wallpaper adhesives

Always make up a complete packet at a time to ensure a correct consistency-any paste left over can be kept in a completely airtight jar and be used for touching up, if necessary. Don’t mix batches of paste. When the wallpaper is cut, it is a good idea to test for colour-fastness on a waste piece. If the colours do run, take extra care not to get paste on the surface of your cut pieces.

Prepairing the walls for paperhanging

Walls must be carefully and thoroughly prepared in order to make paperhanging a complete success. New wallpaper slapped on top of old is by no means certain to stay up, and is likely to bubble and blister. The walls should be as even as possible, and completely clean and free of grease. Newly plastered walls containing lime can be papered if they are perfectly dry.

painter decorator repairing walls

Coat the area with an alkali-resisting primer which will neutralise any active lime in the plaster. Alternatively, use one of the papers which have been specially treated for use on new plaster; a lining paper would be useful here. Distempered walls should be washed down with soapy water to remove all grime. Painted walls should also be washed down with soapy water to remove all grime. When dry, gloss-painted walls should be keyed by thorough scouring with coarse glasspaper (this slight roughening of the surface will help the paper adhere securely).

Previously papered wa1ls should first be stripped by soaking the paper well with warm water and an old distemper brush. A chemical stripper may be added to the water-but if the chemical splashes the paintwork, wipe it off straight away. While the paper is still wet, use the stripping knife to ease it off a little at a time. Properly soaked paper will come away from the wall easily and cleanly. Once all the paper is off, wash the walls with soapy water, rinse with clean water and, when dry, sand them lightly to remove surface blemishes, small pieces of paper, old paint drips, and so on.

Making good the walls

Fill any holes and cracks with a proprietary cellulose filler and when it is completely dry smooth it with glasspaper. The next step is to ‘size’ the walls. This prevents them from absorbing the paste too quickly, allowing time to position the paper on the walls correctly. To make size, dilute the adhesive you intend to use according to the manufacturers’ instructions (the packets usually give instructions for making it up for both size and adhesive). Coat the walls with it, using a pasting brush.

Paperhanging & wallpapering

For your first attempt at paperhanging, choose walls which are free of awkward obstructions like doors and windows. Move as much furniture as possible from the room, put the rest in the middle and cover it. Give yourself plenty of time paperhanging can’t be rushed and try to work in daylight.Otherwise use a team of Painters & Decorators.

wallpaper in bedroom London

Materials required for decorating

For preparing the walls you will need:
1. Bucket.
2. Sponge.
3. Sandpaper wrapped around a cork block.
4. Plaster filler. (Use a cellulose based proprietary brand )
5. Lining paper. If your walls were previously papered you will also need:
6. An old distemper brush.
7. A broad stripping knife.
8. Chemical stripper (optional).

For putting up the paper you will need:

l. Plumb bob, chalked line and chalk.
2. Scissors with 280-305mm blades.
3. 1 meter rule.
4. Soft pencil.
5. A table or board supported on trestles. (The board should be at least 600 wide and l.8m long to provide an adequate surface for pasting. An old flush door suspended across two chairs could also be used.
6. Adhesive. (Most manufacturers give advice about which adhesive to use for the type of paper.
7. Buckets in which to mix adhesives. ( Plastic ones are better than metal. )
8. Pasting brush.
9. Paperhanger’s brush. (Have two brushes, if possible to save delay if one has to be washed, after picking up paste).
10. A hop-up or stepladder, plank and strongly built box (to make a platform from which to reach the top of the walls safely).
1l. Seam roller.

Quantities of paper, material

A roll, or piece, of standard British wallpaper is about 10 meters long and 52cm wide. This covers an area of approximately 57 sq ft, but some is usually wasted through cutting and matching patterns. Most papers are ready trimmed but if they are not, this can be done by the retailer. To estimate how many rolls of paper you need, measure the total length right round all the walls you want to paper, and the height of the room from skirting board to ceiling (or to cornice or picture rail). Rolls of paper are produced in batches, so check that they come from the same one (each has a serial number), as rolls from different batches may vary slightly in colouring. If you buy a ‘job lot’ of paper in a sale, always buy more than you need to cover wastage by matching patterns or through damage.

Paint Sanders

Several types of sander can be fitted to a power drill. The most commonly used is the disc sander. A flexible rubber disc is mounted in the chuck of the machine and an abrasive reduces these marks to a minimum. The disc is made of metal, and is flat and completely rigid. To give it flexibility in use, the shaft on which it is mounted can be bent at a slight angle while it is turning. The drum sander consists ofa wide revolving drum made of stiff foam rubber, with an abrasive belt fastened around its edge.

It makes no swirl marks, but can only be used for sanding small objects or narrow strips of wood. On large, flat surfaces it tends to give an uneven result. The orbital sander, on the other hand, can be used to give a perfect finish to any surface. It has a large, flat sanding pad covered by an abrasive sheet. This moves to and fro in a small circle without revolving, so it leaves no swirl marks at all. Orbital sanders are available both as attachments and as integral tools. The abrasive discs, belts, and sheets for all these tools are available in coarse, medium and fine grades as well as special types such as ‘wet-and-dry’ and ‘preparation’ for rubbing down paintwork.

Interior design for living room and dining room

A living-dining room in which all the woodwork dining furniture, sideboard (if you must have one), occasional tables, chair armrests and so on are all of the same colour, and of as few different heights as possible, looks much bigger than one whose colours and heights are a jumble. Arranging a room to make the most of available space is a question of careful planning and compromise. One of the problems often encountered-unless you are lucky enough to be refurnishing completely, is trying to incorporate the often unsuitable furniture you already own. Inevitably, one has items inherited from a parent or grandparent, or that were bought on impulse, or to fit a different house.

living dinning room

But even if you cannot-indeed would not want to-throw everything out and start again, some improvements are always possible. Even a box unit that takes away two cubic feet of clutter will help. And in the long run, the daily comfort and convenience of having a well organised room, and the family friction avoided by flexible, practical furniture, will be worth any pangs of regret that you feel at parting with the ancient, much loved, but totally impractical object that once filled your room.

In a small space, you simply cannot have a huge sofa across a corner with yards of wasted space behind it, nor afford to ignore an alcove which could take shelving and cupboards and work-top but in fact still houses a cumbersome old desk or sideboard. And if there is something you simply cannot bear to part with, you will have to earn a place for it by perfect planning in the rest of the room. However intelligently you plan your space to suit your family’s various activities, there will still be limitations and problems. But in many ways these provide half the fun as well as the headaches. For they give you the incentive to be imaginative, and,ultimately, the satisfaction of knowing you have solved some problems and disguised others. And in terms of sheer comfort, space-saving can be a very rewarding activity.

Modern families tend to have sophisticated hobbies which involve a mass of equipment and materials. If these were allowed to ‘stray’ all over the house they would cause untold havoc. Small children have their nurseries to clutter up, and specialists have their workshops, but a properly planned ‘family room’ provides the whole family with a social centre where each member can create his own brand of mayhem. And then, perhaps, you will meet more often than just at mealtimes.

living room london

It’s no use packing the whole family into the spare room and hoping that everyone will have a marvellous time. Family rooms do have to be planned, if only to ensure that they are warm enough, well ventilated, suitably lit, insulated against noise, provided with adequate storage and somewhere to sit, and so on. The ‘basics’ should be carefully thought out before you try to plan the layout of the room.

Studio Flats in London

‘Bed-sitter’ is almost a dirty word, conjuring up visions of dingy, badly decorated rooms in converted Victorian mansions, each with old-fashioned furniture and minimal cooking and heating facilities. However, young couples who want a home of their own, but who cannot yet afford a house, are often forced to live in a one-room flat. Large bed-sitting rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities can convert into workable self-contained flats.

studio flat london

Room to work in and storage space, space for sitting and dining in, for entertaining friends, and also a second sleeping area to accommodate unexpected guests, must all be considered. Whatever furniture and fabrics are bought for a flat like this they must be suitable to adapt or re-arrange at a later time in a larger house. By using white laminated chipboard storage and shelf units which reach up to the ceiling, you gain extra space for storage.

When you are measuring the room or rooms, take down the dimensions accurately and be sure to include; the positions of doors and where they lead to; the positions of windows, whether they face the sun, and the sort of view they overlook; the heights of window sills; the size and position of chimney breasts; and all the smaller, but still important, items such as radiators, power outlets, lights and switches.

Draw your plan to a fairly large scale, say one-tenth of the room size, and cut out cardboard rectangles to represent the surface area of the furniture intended for the room. You can now experiment to see whether, by careful grouping and re-grouping, it is possible to ‘zone’ the activities logically-and still allow enough space for circulation and cleaning. Circulation is important.

You need a minimum of 500mm to walk between low units of furniture, more to walk comfortably between taller ones, more still where ‘traffic’ will be heavy and people must frequently pass each other. However, unnecessary circulation space is wasteful and it is therefore desirable to organise your traffic flow in as simple a pattern as possible. If the positions of the doors to the hall and kitchen hamper efficient planning, consider whether it is possible to move or close one or both of them. Try to avoid moving the chimney breast, however; this can be a major, and expensive, structural job.

Once a basic layout has been arrived at, it should be tested for flexibility and whether it will remain suitable for likely future needs. This experimentation will provide a good guide to the best position of major items which cannot easily be moved, such as wall storage units and dividing screens or doors. It will also indicate to what degree the furniture must be multi-purpose. The next step will be to decide on appropriate colours, materials and lighting, and the possible use of such devices as mirror walls and floodlit walled gardens, as these can have a profound effect on the character, and apparent size, of spaces.

Interior Design for Living Rooms

Planning a living-dining area is easy. Once you have fitted the dining table into the most obvious nook, and bunged in the sofa opposite the television set, everything else just clicks into place. But planning a better living dining area-the one that looks a little better, works a little better, is a little more comfortable and accommodating-is a difficult job indeed. You need talent, concentration, or luck, or a combination of all three.

living room London

The first problem is, that unlike the kitchen, the function of which is reasonably constant, the living-dining area in the average house is playing quite different roles at different times of the day. Whether one room or two, it has to be coffee parlour, study, hobbies room, reading room, television ‘cinema’, music room, writing room and, when you are entertaining, restaurant. And some of these functions are quite incompatible.

The second problem is that what suits well now may be hopeless in, say, five years’ time, when today’s toddler has become a seven year- old addict of television’s noisier programmes. Or a studious 10-year-old has become a rumbustious teenager whose army of friends descends without warning. It is impossible to design living and dining areas so that they will function perfectly for al1 time, regardless of family changes. In most cases, the family starts off as just a newly-married couple.

It increases in numbers as children are born, and in physical size as the children grow up and develop wider interests. It contracts as the children leave home, but may increase again when, for example, an ageing relative, unable to live alone, becomes a resident member instead of an occasional visitor. Since the range of a family’s activities changes even more markedly than its numbers the best you can do, then, is to plan for the family as it is now and make some assessment of likely changes, at least to the time when the present furnishings have outlived their usefulness.

This, if you have a houseful of growing children, will probably be sooner rather than later ! But regardless of the numbers or activities for which it is trying to cater, some things are quite fundamental to a successful living area:

The room itself must be of reasonable size if you are to avoid that ‘shut in a telephone box’ feeling. In many homes, separate living and dining rooms can be combined into a ‘through room’ which somehow always manages to look greater than the sum of its parts. In others, a tiny dining room can be combined into a ‘through room’ which somehow always manages to look greater than the sum of its parts. In others, a tiny dining room can be combined with the kitchen to give a greater feeling of spaciousness in both. Even if you cannot alter the physical dimensions of a small living room, you can often install a picture window to the back garden increasing the apparent dimensions by an amazing extent. (Be careful of picture windows to the street, however; if the room is close to the street, or below road level, you may find yourself self-consciously living in a ‘goldfish bowl’.)

And if there is positively no other way, you can make a small room look bigger by a careful choice of furniture. Choose as few pieces as possible, maximising space and minimising clutter; choose low items rather than tall; and try to keep the tops ‘in line’-occasional tables the same height as seats, for example, and cupboard units the same height as armchair backs. It follows that you should try to avoid making small rooms even smaller by partitioning them into little boxes, unless-and the difference is crucial-you can see over, or through, the partitions.

It must have a focal point because, without something to look at, it is difficult to relax and do absolutely nothing. There are times when even conversation is harder work than you feel like undertaking for the moment-and looking at another person without trying to converse is almost impossible. Once, the hearth was the centre of family life; the word ‘hearth’ itself still conjures up pictures of warmth and companionship and hospitality. Now the hearth-or at least the open fire-is yielding place in British houses to central heating. In its place, the television set has become the focal point of most living rooms, as a glance at the seating arrangements will tell. This is all very well, except that for perhaps half the time that the set is switched on at least one person is enduring, rather than enjoying the programme.

(Quick check: In your family, how often does one person leave the room, try to read-go to bed, even while others are watching a favourite programme?) And when it is switched off, the cold stare of a blank television screen is anything but inviting. This is why some families retain an open fire, even with central heating, for nothing more than its visual warmth and the soothing movement of its flickering flames. There are plenty of alternatives : fish in a tank; birds in a cage (or outside in the garden, but still visible through a picture window); flowers; people or traffic passing by; a favourite collection of pictures, posters, pottery, ship models, or anything else you fancy.

It must look comfortable. Comfort is more than a physical thing; however much padding you provide for the bones and muscles, you cannot relax properly if distracting or irritating surroundings have your mind ‘on edge’. (As one example, few people look less relaxed than the girl who demonstrates mattresses by ‘sleeping’ in furniture exhibitions or shop windows; in her place, would you feel at ease ?) So a living area must not just be comfortable, but look comfortable too. This is a point to bear in mind when buying, particularly, armchairs and sofas. It is an extremely personal, individual matter, but if a unit looks too cold and ‘stiff’ to you, remember that it will probably make your room look the same.

Floor covering can also help create a cosy atmosphere. If carpet seems impractical because the family eats in the living room, you might tile the floor of the dining area, and lay deep-pile carpet at the sitting end of the room. It will create a warm effect and help separate the two areas visually. With these basic points in mind, you can begin to tailor your room(s) to suit your own family, whose needs are quite different from others’. The first thing is to list them, beginning with joint activities, and perhaps under these headings: Eating

Some families take all meals formally, some eat in the kitchen or by the fireside or television. Either way, obviously, you need seats and some sort of dining surface, even if only a tray. But these can be suitable for other purposes and, if so, this will make better use of the space. If you seldom use a conventional dining table and chairs, why have them ? You may be better off with fold-away or multipurpose furniture.

Relaxing, conversing, watching television

The main requirement here is comfortable seating. Armchairs offer maximum comfort, but are bulky; they should be kept to a minimum if space is limited.

Sofas or settees are a little less comfortable, but make better use ol the space and can be used for the occasional nap. (A sofa which is not long enough for sleeping is a bad buy; it can fulfil only one of the two-or more-uses for which it is intended.) Some chairs are essential, however, because the seating arrangement must be flexible enough for two people to talk in comfort, yet be capable of being moved so that the whole family can watch television or join in a general conversation. Chairs that can be pushed together to form a sofa are practical and versatile. Try not to acquire furniture that is too heavy, or rearranging it for changing daily needs will be a major undertaking. Low tables are very useful. Have plenty, and space them about among the seats; when you are comfortable you do not want to keep getting out of your chair to reach an ashtray or pour another cup of coffee. Modern boxshaped tables also provide extra storage.

Storage facilities will probably be needed for books, magazines, records, tapes and so on. For this purpose, multi-purpose wall storage units are most useful. Economical of space, they.can incorporate drawers, cupboards and shelving for storage and display, as well as housing the radio, record player, tape recorder and television. They are also designed to allow some flexibility of arrangement. If stereophonic sound or hi-fl is to be catered for, it is important to consider the position of loudspeakers in relation to the seating.


You need to ask yourself what kind of entertaining is to take place, on what scale, and how frequently. Does it justify extra seating, a larger dining table, a bar or cocktail cabinet? Or could you improvise for the occasional informal party ? Having listed family, or communal, activities, the next thing is to list individual ones. The possible range is enormous, but some likely ones are: Studying, letter-writing, computer usage.

These have similar requirements as far as space and furniture are concerned-not just a chair and writing surface, but also adequate storage for books, files and stationery. At a pinch, the dining table will do, with the activities, and the dining table will serve. The main problem is storage, particularly of bulky machines; however, these can often be housed, with their accessories, in a movable unit which can double as an occasional table.