Interior Design

5 ways to use wallpaper for impact – from the founder of global design house Andrew Martin

From using wallpaper in small rooms to creating gallery walls – Martin Waller tells us everything we need to know

Andrew Martin wallpaper tips
(Image credit: Kit Kemp for Andrew Martin, Wychwood Provencal Yellow Wallpaper, £60, Cushion in Psycho Sprig Tropical Yellow Fabric)

Martin Waller is an interior designer and founder of the successful global design house Andrew Martin. His label is celebrated for its joyous use of color and fun-filled furnishings that have turned his London showroom into an Aladdin’s cave of kaleidoscopic collections. Among these is a wide spectrum of wallpapers – from his bold animal prints to his ornate murals, made in collaboration with Kit Kemp and the National Gallery. 

See: Wallpaper ideas – gorgeous decor for every room

Here, the daring designer gives H&G a wallpaper masterclass – including which print to use in a small room and whether we should hold back on a gallery wall. 

‘Wallpaper is such an easy route to an instant effect – every room has more wall than anything else. I often think that people don’t pay nearly enough attention to their wall, spending months researching fabric but only minutes choosing paint,’ says Martin who has been at the forefront of interior design since Andrew Martin opened in 1978.

Andrew Martin wallpaper tips

(Image credit: Andrew Martin x National Gallery, Claude Monet - Bathers at Grenouillère)

‘With digital printing, there is so much opportunity to do incredible things with wallpaper – we have a licence with the National Gallery which means we can fit a wall with a Titian, a Monet or a Michelangelo perfectly tailored to fit,’ he adds. 

Here, he shares his five top tips for bringing wallpaper into our homes in an impactful way.

1. Choose a striking wallpaper in a small room 

Andrew Martin wallpaper and sofa

(Image credit: Andrew Martin, Constantinople Wallpaper £420, Nickleby Sofa in Indus Brick, £59, Cushions in Indus Brick, Oxus Multi and Elbrus Multi)

See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces 

It’s the question on everybody’s lips – which wallpaper will look best in a small room? According to Martin, we should opt for ‘dramatic papers.’

‘Many people think a small space should be painted in a pale, plain finish, but I think a small space needs more, not less emphasis,’ he explains.

Kit Kemp for Andrew Martin wallpaper

(Image credit: Kit Kemp for Andrew Martin, Wychwood Provencal Yellow Wallpaper, £60, Cushion in Psycho Sprig Tropical Yellow Fabric)

‘Just because a wall is papered doesn’t mean you can’t hang art all over it. Kit Kemp, who we collaborated with for her eponymous collection, demonstrates this exuberantly in her schemes. Wallpaper and art combine to add such interesting layers to a room,’ Martin shares. 

3. Don’t rush the design process 

Kit Kemp for Andrew Martin wallpaper

(Image credit: Andrew Martin X Kit Kemp)

While we’ve all found a little more time to renovate over the previous year, Martin encourages us not to rush into choosing the paper, especially when in isolation. 

‘I’m a great believer in getting the whole scheme in your hand before you shop. Consider it all simultaneously,’ he adds. 

4. Dare to experiment with textures

Large map mural behind a seat

(Image credit: Andrew Martin)

‘I love texture on walls – it truly does add a whole other dimension to any room,’ the designer says. This bold aesthetic is not for the faint-hearted, but it certainly is for Martin: ‘In my London home I have a raffia wallpaper in my sitting room; in my hall, I have used fabric on the walls,’ he says.

5. When it comes to furniture, follow the lead of Renaissance painters… 

Andrew Martin wallpaper tips

(Image credit: Andrew Martin, Mythical Lands wallpaper)

See more: Living room wallpaper ideas – ways to decorate your walls

‘Don’t worry about furniture obstructing parts of a large design – it doesn’t matter if you can’t see it all. The Renaissance painters discovered that they didn’t have to show figures in their entirety; they understood that the brain intuitively fills in the gaps,’ Martin suggests. 

Armed with Martin’s advice, we’re ready to get playful with our walls – slowly and steadily, of course. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.