If you want a wallcovering with feel appeal, vinyl could be the way answer. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall explains.

Mention vinyl wallpaper to some people and they picture heavily patterned papers from the 1970s that are definitely not retro-chic. However, things have come a long way since then with new designs using the best properties of vinyl to create contemporary products perfect for the most discerning interior.

If you are looking for good value wallcovering, then vinyl is a strong contender. Whilst the initial outlay can be more expensive they are incredibly hard-wearing, generally coping better with knocks and scrapes than most painted or wallpaper finishes. This means you can be relatively sure of having a finish that will last a significant number of years, provided you are happy to stick with the same design for some time.

They are ideal for areas where you can expect a greater degree of moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. They can be wiped clean easily which also makes them a good contender for high traffic areas or those that might receive more attention than normal from younger members of the household. The moisture resisting effect does rely on the paper having been hung well, with a good adhesive and flush finish.

The heavy weight when combined with a design that contains a high degree of texture can also make vinyl a useful tool to help cover up a poor wall surface with uneven plaster or small cracks.

Practicalities aside, there are a number of aesthetic reasons for picking some of the newer vinyl ranges. The modern designs make considerable use of the texture of vinyl to allow householders to indulge in finishes that might otherwise be beyond their reach such as leather, skin or even quilting!

The use of texture is important, particularly within schemes where you want to add interest without injecting too much colour. Many ranges focus on neutral palettes, which help create the perfect backdrop for your modern interior.

Using a 3D finish maximises the ability to develop the properties of light within your room. The look of textured wall-covering changes throughout the day as he natural light moves within the room. It also helps create the perfect backdrop for artificial light, the careful placement of which can instantly transform a room once the power switch is flicked.

There are a number of interesting collections at present and here are my personal favourites.

The Metropolis Vinyls 2 collection from Osborne & Little, includes crocodile and mako sharkskin motif prints that look particularly good against the clean lines of modern furniture. The range also features Cabretta, a wonderful quilted design with an in-built 3D visual which begs to be stroked; this would be perfect in a super-cool bedroom with mid-20th Century vintage retro design. Prices from £95 per roll (www.osborneandlittle.com – 020 7352 1456).

Crocodile, from the Metropolitan Vinyls 2 collection

In a similar vain is the semi-plain vinyl “In the Picture Collection” from Prestigious Textiles. Design Issue String delicately hints at leather and parcel string, providing subtle textural interest to your scheme in a range of muted tones. Priced at £45 per roll (www.prestigious.co.uk – 01274 688448).

Prestigious Textiles’ Design Issue String

The Modern Eccentrics range from Today Interiors takes geometric design to a whole new level, featuring an array of colours to suite the bravest taste. The designs are virtually architectural and include “Woven” (a mix of velvet soft and razor sharp, featuring interwoven parallelograms) and “Shell” (a stylised fishbone pattern of natural lines floating on floating on a wave of small checks). Priced from £64.85 per roll (www.today-interiors.com – 01476 574 401).

Woven by Today Interiors 

Finally, the Zoffany Mosaic Collection features another good range of patterns that take a lot of influence from Eastern Architecture. The jewel in the crown though is Mosaic Dapple which not only introduces texture from a delicate cascade of small squares, but plays an additional trick with its ombré tones which appear to be reflections of light, but are actually built into the design. This is perfect to introduce an extra element of light into a dark room. Priced at £76 per roll (www.zoffany.com – 0844 543 4748).

Zoffany Mosaic Dapple

Music enthusiasts have long extolled the benefits of vinyl. Perhaps it is time that interior enthusiasts did too!


 MANY vinyl patterns are produced in a non-woven finish, meaning you paste the wall rather than the paper. This is ideal for those less confident at decorating because it is less fussy and means you can manipulate the paper to a larger degree once it has been hung on the wall: enabling you to achieve a high degree of pattern matching and butting up, without having to get it right first time.

The DIY novice is likely to find that the heavy nature of vinyl wallpaper also makes it ideal to handle, as it is far less likely to rip.

Jamie Hempsall is a multi-award winning interior designer.