Why wallpaper

Are you considering revamping a room or maybe your whole house? There are many good reason to choose wallpaper. This ugly duckling of the interior decorating industry has regained popularity due to the many exciting finishes now available.

Where did wallpaper come from?

But have you ever wondered what the origins of wallpaper are?

The Chinese are credited with being the creators of wallpaper. It is believed they pasted rice paper onto their walls for decorative use. Later as the art of papermaking spread to the West via the silk route it was taken up by other cultures and societies. The oldest fragment of European wallpaper, found in Christ’s College Cambridge, dates back to 1509.


Early wallpaper was remarkably like fabric designs with block patterns and colour being applied carefully by hand. As you can imagine due to the time invested in creating these master pieces, it was almost exclusively used by the affluent. As methods of production changed, it became more affordable and accessible to the middle class.


For the masses

The French and Germans pioneered the mass production of wallpaper using machines which were capable of manufacturing continuous sheets of coloured patterns. By the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, wallpaper was being exported to several countries.

Fast forward to late 20th century and wallpaper was commonplace in households, often boasting retro colours with bold floral patterns and prints.

Over the years, decorators and DIY-ers have had a love-hate relationship with this popular form of décor. Application was tedious and clumsy and removing it near impossible. Older versions required the installer to soak the paper to activate the adhesive on the paper. This made hanging it a rather messy affair.

New vs Old

Nowadays technology has both revolutionised styles and patterns of wallpaper as well as the application methods.

You can get everything from modern florals and stripes to geometric patterns.  Full wall murals depicting a particular scene or backdrop are also available.  Patterns also mimic other wall finishes such as brick, wood or even tiles.  The choices are endless.


The functionality of wallpaper has always been and remains largely decorative, however in earlier years it was also used for insulation. And while it can effectively hide cracks and other imperfections, the versatility of modern wallpaper is that it can change the feel of a room both in terms of size and atmosphere.

For example, horizontal lines or a ‘wood panel’ effect can make the room look much larger than it really is and accenting one or two walls can create a focal point. It therefore creates so many wonderful design opportunities for decorators.

Removal made easy

Removal of wallpaper is where the biggest change has come.  Walls stuck with left over ripped pieces of paper has turned many people off using wallpaper.  The good news is that if you have chosen a decent quality modern wallpaper, removal is now really easy.  Some wallpapers are even reusable. Wallpaper with a non-woven backing can be peeled off dry and the only thing left behind is perhaps some paste that can be cleaned off with warm soapy water.

These improvements, as well as the variety now available has led to wallpaper’s comeback.  Consumers are able to really go wild and create professional finishes in their own home, whether they try do the application themselves or call on a professional to do the job.

Banish the boredom

So, if a year of lockdown has left you bored with your home décor, why not get creative and use wallpaper to reinvent your home?

Mary Interior Decorators supplies and installs wallpaper to meet your specifications.  For more information and advice call 011 268 0329 or email