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Bold and beautiful wallpaper is on a roll: Forget boring cream walls

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Want to breathe new life and energy into your home? Wallpaper is a quick way to make a big difference to your decor, and might just cheer you up, too.

Sales of wallpaper have seen a healthy uptick over the last year, and gone are the days of people trying to retain a neutral palette. Lockdowns have encouraged us to be bolder and more original.

‘What we’re seeing is people being more true to themselves,’ says Fi Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio, Bluebellgray (bluebellgray.com). ‘It used to be all about property and selling, whereas now it’s about people embracing the home they have.’

Create a buzz: Mixed Bee wallpaper by Lola Design, £99 per roll, loladesignltd.com

Create a buzz: Mixed Bee wallpaper by Lola Design, £99 per roll, loladesignltd.com

The idea of wallpaper might call to mind 1980s wall-to-wall Laura Ashley chintz. And while there’s a time and a place for florals, wallpaper is no longer the wallflower it once was. 

From maximalist prints to soft wallpapers that add texture and depth, there’s a wallpaper style for everyone.

Make a statement

Maximalist wallpaper is enjoying a revival; grand-scale prints adorn walls like a piece of art. And there is a huge array of wallpaper producers making these bold prints.

Traditional printers such as Lola Design, Sanderson and Morris & Co (sanderson designgroup.com) produce rich colours, dazzling geometric patterns and beautiful botanical designs, while trained artists have become the new wave of wallpaper manufacturers, turning their skills to work on a much bigger scale.

‘Bold, patterned wallpaper is a quick way to update a space; you can have a dramatically different room quickly and easily,’ says one such artist, Lucy Tiffney (lucytiffney.shop).

Tiffney was a finalist in BBC2’s Great Interior Design Challenge in 2016, and has since set up her own design studio.

Her wallpapers are a gorgeous riot of colour. ‘My inspiration comes from everywhere; a lot of it is botantical and from the natural world.’

Bluebellgray is another studio. Its papers are inspired by nature, both in abstract and more realistic depictions.

‘All my wallpapers start life as a painting and you can see that in the wallpaper,’ says owner Fi Douglas.

Go big and live a little

Sold on going for a bold print, but unsure how to make it work? Lucy Tiffney encourages her clients to embrace bold prints on one wall rather than a whole room.

‘One customer used my Penang wallpaper on a huge feature wall. Because the wall was so big the wallpaper actually looked almost like a texture.’

‘I love a wallpapered ceiling,’ says interior designer Katie Knight, director of interior design firm Katie Elizabeth Design (katie elizabethdesign.com). ‘It can make the room still feel simple and sophisticated at eye level, but have a party on the ceiling.

‘I also love to use a bold wallpaper in more hidden places that surprise and add a fun element, such as on the back of bookshelves and dressers, or inside cupboards.’

Complementary furnishings can help showcase your wallpaper.

‘I recommend using wallpaper as a feature wall, but then make other elements of the room calmer,’ says Fi Douglas. ‘If you’ve got the palette, which starts with the wallpaper, pull other colours from it.

‘If you do that then everything else will feel coherent.’

Pared-back perfection

If maximalism is not for you, a minimalist print might appeal. A subtle wallpaper with texture adds depth and interest to a room, creating shadow and warmth that you can’t get from paint.

‘If a wallpaper is a subtle colour, it’s all about textures. This adds depth to a room,’ says Emily Holder, co-founder and director at Wells and Maguire (wellsandmaguire.com).

Layering textures and colours on other items will set off a minimalist wallpaper.

‘Wallpapers with texture add depth — whether that’s silk effects or suede — they’re so neutral. And then we layer items in the room on top of it. 

We could go bolder on things like the cushions,’ adds Danielle Marsh, fellow director and co-founder of Wells and Maguire. 

‘Or if you want to keep it more neutral and focus on texture, then lovely cushions, chunky throws and rugs are great.’

With textured wallpaper, clever lighting is key. ‘Good lighting and subtle or textured wallpaper go hand in hand. It catches the light and adds that extra dimension,’ says Katie Knight.

Whatever you choose, you can’t go far wrong with wallpaper, says Natasha Bradley, interior designer and colour expert at wallpaper designer Lick (lickhome.com/wallpaper).

‘Wallpaper is wallpaper; you are adding a detail to your space. Your eyes will be drawn to it, no matter what.

‘So, whether you decide on a subtle stripe or bold floral design, you will make an impact either way.’

What your home really needs is a… tray table 

The butler’s tray table – with its detachable top and folding legs – rose to popularity in the 18th century. 

A servant would set down the tray on the base, having unfolded the legs and placed the table next to the person requiring tea, or something stronger.

Antique: This handsome mahogany 18th century butler’s table is available for £1,374 on the 1st Dibs marketplace (1stdibs.co.uk)

Antique: This handsome mahogany 18th century butler’s table is available for £1,374 on the 1st Dibs marketplace (1stdibs.co.uk)

You may not be able to summon a butler today, but your home still needs a tray table because it is portable, while also being practical and decorative.

If you are keen on the genuine item, a handsome mahogany 18th century butler’s table, is available for £1,374 on the 1st Dibs marketplace (1stdibs.co.uk).

But if you want something contemporary, Cox & Cox has a £195 oak table (coxandcox.co.uk) while Ikea offers the £45 Maryd table in grey, green and red (ikea.co.uk). 

B&M has a number of styles all at £15, including the Bjorn, the Melrose – which has a mid-century vibe – and the elegant gold-coloured Tromso (bmstores.co.uk). 

Neither of these pieces has folding legs, but are light in weight and would look superb bearing a lamp.

ANNE ASHWORTH  

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Tetchy Tánaiste stirs the Stormont pot

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Some of the most petulant reaction to the latest protocol row has come from Fine Gael, which may explain unwise comments on direct rule and a Border poll from Leo Varadkar.

Speaking at a Co-operation North event in Dublin on Tuesday night, the Tánaiste said direct rule was not a viable long-term alternative to devolution. If Stormont is not restored quickly other options must be considered, with the best forum to do so being the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) of the Belfast Agreement.

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen by the bed is up for rent at £1,000-a-month

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen just few feet away from the bed goes up for rent for £1,000-a-month in London

  • A cramped studio flat that is up for rent in south London is so small it has a bath located in the lounge
  • The property, that is in the ‘highly sought after’ Wimbledon area, has a bed only feet away from the kitchen
  • Renters will have to fork out over £1,000-a-month to live in the odd space, though bills are included

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A tiny studio flat has been mocked because it costs over £1,000-a-month to rent and the bath is located in the lounge.

While the bed is found only feet away from the kitchen area, with a giant telly on the wall.

The south London property is on the market to rent for an eye-watering amount considering its size.

The bath is right by the back door leading out to a small private area on a patio garden.

The listing states that it has been ‘designed to maximise the space available’ and adds that the bathroom has ‘been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view’, but this appears just to be a shower curtain.

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

The property's bed is located just feet away from the 'Kitchenette area', which boasts a microwave and kettle

The property’s bed is located just feet away from the ‘Kitchenette area’, which boasts a microwave and kettle

The flat has a 'self contained pied-a-tierre' (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat has a ‘self contained pied-a-tierre’ (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat in upmarket Wimbledon Village will cost lodgers £1,150 per month – or £265 per week – to live in it.

Bills are included within the rental and there is a secure parking space available.

One home hunter fumed: ‘London cost of living is so disgusting that you pay £1,150 per month to rent a bath in a bed/kitchen as advertised on Rightmove today.

‘Living in a decent home is an essential and fundamental basic human right.

‘It shouldn’t be a privileged novelty.’

The letting agent said it would be ideal for someone to rent for the Wimbledon tennis tournament which starts next month.

The All England Tennis Club, where the grass championship is hosted, is just half a mile away.

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat 'disgusting'

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat ‘disgusting’

The listing says the flat is 'finished to an exceptional standard' and is available for short term rent

The listing says the flat is ‘finished to an exceptional standard’ and is available for short term rent

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

It is being let by CHK Mountford and advertised via Rightmove, the property listing reads: ‘Set on the ground floor of a wonderful detached private residence in the heart of Wimbledon Village is this self-contained pied a tierre.

‘The property has been immaculately refurbished to a very high standard and has been cleverly designed to maximise the space available.

‘To the front of the property is a small private patio.

‘The room is fully furnished and there is a small kitchenette area complete with sink, microwave and fridge.

‘There is a separate WC and a bath which has been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view if required plus a generous storage cupboard/wardrobe.

‘One parking space is available and is set behind the properties private gates offering complete secure parking.

‘This property would be ideal for a working professional looking for a weekday base and who is looking for something which is centrally located and finished to a high standard.

‘All bills are included within the monthly rental.

‘Available on a short or long term basis, please note that for a short term rental the cost would be on a weekly basis.

‘And would be at a higher rental amount than for a long term tenancy – please contact the office directly for verification of the weekly rental.

‘The property is available for rental during Wimbledon Tennis event and is the perfect base for those wanting to be close to the site and have secure parking in addition.’

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Truss made ‘turnips in truck’ Brexit remark about Ireland, former diplomat says

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UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told a US audience three years ago that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would only “affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks,” a former UK diplomat said.

Alexandra Hall Hall, a former Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in the US, disclosed on Twitter on Tuesday night that Ms Truss made the remarks to a US audience three years ago.

The former career diplomat revealed in an article she wrote in a US academic journal last year that a UK government minister made the remarks but she did not identify the minister at the time.

Last night Ms Hall Hall retweeted a tweet by Ms Truss in which the foreign secretary said the UK government’s “first priority is to uphold the Belfast Agreement” – the 1998 deal that underpins the Northern Ireland peace process. Ms Truss shared a link to her House of Commons speech in which she set out plans to introduce legislation to override the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Retweeting the message, Ms Hall Hall said: “So pleased to see Liz Truss become a genuine expert on Irish matters. She was, after all, the minister who told a US audience three years ago that Brexit would not have any serious impact in Ireland . . . it would merely ‘affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks.’”

‘Under strain’

Ms Truss told the UK parliament that the protocol had put the Belfast Agreement “under strain” because of opposition by Unionist parties, citing this as a reason to plan to introduce new legislation in the coming weeks to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Ms Hall Hall wrote in the Texas National Security Review journal last year that during her time as a diplomat in Washington, DC that Boris Johnson’s government damagingly played down the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s peace process in statements intended for US audiences.

She resigned from her job in late 2019 because she said she was unwilling to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she said in her resignation letter.

In her article last autumn, she described the “turnip” remarks – without naming Ms Truss at the time – as a “low point” of her time in Washington when the UK minister “openly and offensively” in front of a US audience dismissed the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses.

Ms Truss, then the UK secretary of state for international trade, was visiting Washington at the time to meet the then US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, both members of US president Donald Trump’s administration, and other politicians.

In the academic article, she said he had become “increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves.”

She took issue in the article – entitled: “Should I stay or should I go? The dilemma of a conflicted civil service – with the UK government’s “use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options” with Brexit.

Ms Hall joined the UK foreign office in 1986 and served in various roles around the world, including in Bangkok, New Delhi and Bogota before serving as British ambassador in Georgia.

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