4 Tips to Know When Decorating With Illustrated Wallpaper

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Wallpaper designer Sian Zeng shares four mighty wise tips to note when styling with patterned paper.

First, she invited us into her dreamy Greenwich apartment. Now, the London–based designer reveals how to beautifully incorporate illustrated wallpaper into any space. Keep scrolling to read Sian Zeng's top tips and see some of her exquisite designs.

1. Test Before Committing 

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Here, Sian Zeng's Hua Trees Mural in a lovely gray shade is used in a hotel bedroom.

Here, Sian Zeng's Hua Trees Mural in a lovely gray shade is used in a hotel bedroom.

According to Zeng, testing out a sample of wallpaper is the best way to understand how a design will look in a specific space, appear under different lightings, and work with your overall decor. 

"We always recommend purchasing a wallpaper sample before committing to a full wallpaper purchase. Ideally, you should obtain a full pattern repeat sample, and test it on the intended wall to get the full pattern scale and suitability."

2. Consider Decor Styles and Furniture

A look at Zeng's stunning Hua Trees Mural in a blush tone.

A look at Zeng's stunning Hua Trees Mural in a blush tone.

As a rule of thumb, Zeng chooses wallpapers with more subtle designs for busy areas with lots of furniture, and bolder, more intricate designs for rooms with minimal furniture to make the wall the main feature. 

To help customers visualize the many ways her wallpapers can be used, she’s created an Inspiration Room on her website. "I find it so inspiring and useful to see how others have incorporated our wallpaper designs into their homes," she explains.

3. Be Mindful of Corner Measurements

Zeng decorated her own living room with her Seasons Winter Snowdrift print. She opted for this design in the living room because she wanted a minimal pattern that would complement whatever furniture or plants she brought in. She was looking for a pattern that was easy on the eye, and one that would still allow the space to breathe.

Zeng decorated her own living room with her Seasons Winter Snowdrift print. She opted for this design in the living room because she wanted a minimal pattern that would complement whatever furniture or plants she brought in. She was looking for a pattern that was easy on the eye, and one that would still allow the space to breathe.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume that the corners of their rooms are absolutely vertical. Yet, this is hardly the case. "If you were to hang your wallpaper starting in a corner, you would most likely find your paper will run askew," says Zeng. 

To avoid this, she suggests fastening your wallpaper to the wall at the focus point of the room—or in the middle of the wall—and proceed out toward the corners. "You will first need to create a true vertical line as a place to start hanging. Using a spirit level and a pencil, mark every 150mm from the top of the wall to the bottom," she explains.

4. Don't Forget About Maintenance and Care

A close-up at the Seasons Winter Snowdrift wallpaper by Zeng.

A close-up at the Seasons Winter Snowdrift wallpaper by Zeng.

After you have properly placed your wallpaper, Zeng recommends using Polyvine Decorator’s Varnish on top of it, which will provide an extra layer of protection against elements that can damage the paper over time. 

Once the varnish has fully hardened, you’ll be able to clean the paper with a light scrub using a soapy sponge. Yet, be careful never to soak your wall with water. For bathrooms specifically, avoid placing wallpaper in areas that will be in direct contact with water, and be wary of using wallpaper if your space is extremely humid. 

To learn more about Sian Zeng—or shop some of her delightful designs—check out her website here.


Shop Our Favorite Designs from Sian Zeng
Sian Zeng Classic Seasons Wallpaper Summer Tropical Bloom
Sian Zeng Classic Seasons Wallpaper Summer Tropical Bloom
Bring a world of colour into your home with the tropical bloom wallpaper from our seasons collection.
Sian Zeng Classic Seasons Wallpaper Winter Snowdrift
Sian Zeng Classic Seasons Wallpaper Winter Snowdrift
Immerse your home in the beauty of winter with the snowdrift wallpaper from the seasons collection.
Sian Zeng Classic Dino Wallpaper Yellow Green
Sian Zeng Classic Dino Wallpaper Yellow Green
Aimed to surprise and delight both children and adults, our whimsical landscape of desert cactuses and roaming dinosaurs brings a playful element to your home decor.