the papered wall / by megan norgate

 Monomeith Designs wallpaper by Penny Maskell - Designed in Tasmania and hand printed in Melbourne

Monomeith Designs wallpaper by Penny Maskell - Designed in Tasmania and hand printed in Melbourne

Low-impact living does not mean austere interior minimalism. An often brave and beautiful interior addition, wallpaper is an enduring investment if you follow your instinct and choose something that you find truly beautiful (or just get good advice!). Wallpaper can be done in a very environmentally-friendly way and can last a long time if well cared for.
Here are a few tips on selecting and using eco pasteups:

  • Adding wallpaper to an interior can be expensive, so minimise the cost by choosing a small wall area with the greatest visual impact, perhaps a central space that you can see from many different viewpoints.
  • Have you bought an old home with original wallpaper?  Wall-to-wall patterned coverings can be stuffy and overwhelming in an interior, however many original retro and period designs are quirky and interesting. So before you start ripping it off, consider keeping one feature wall papered as a nod to the home’s history.
  • Sometimes embossed and relief wallpapers that are of dated colours or torn can be rejuvenated by sealing any damage then painting over. This creates an appealing surface of papery textural interest, without the labour intensive hassle of removing the old paper. 
  • Or you can add an old wallpaper to your home - there are great sources on the web of vintage wallpapers in enduring and nostalgic designs.
  • Select wallpapers from responsible sources (recycled is best, FSC certified is a close second) and those printed with solvent-free water-based inks. Hand-printed wallpaper gives you an intimate bespoke alternative to the homogenous nature of digital printing.
  • Search for low or no-VOC wallpaper options as these Volatile Organic Compounds can contribute to interior environment-related respiratory and allergic health problems. 
  • High-VOC products to be avoided are those containing PVC, synthetic fire-retardants, self adhesive wallpapers and vinyl based water papers, often 'waterproof’ and ‘easy-clean’ products. Sometimes products that claim to protect us can introduce harmful and unnecessary elements into your home in the pocket of your good intentions. 
  • Use a simple wallpaper paste that doesn't contain toxic chemicals - an effective wallpaper paste is basically clag - like the flour and water home made glue you used to make at school. Many natural recipes are available online to make at home or you can use a non-toxic adhesive option.
 Stampeding horses by Florence Broadhurst - an enduring and dynamic design. 

Stampeding horses by Florence Broadhurst - an enduring and dynamic design. 

  Vintage 1970's photo mural in a contemporary bathroom. Good ventilation is important when using wall paper in a bathroom. 

Vintage 1970's photo mural in a contemporary bathroom. Good ventilation is important when using wall paper in a bathroom. 

 A tired relief wallpaper is repaired and painted over to beautifully preserve the textural effect. 

A tired relief wallpaper is repaired and painted over to beautifully preserve the textural effect. 

Some handy links to Australian wallpaper companies with good eco-credentials:

The original content of this article was written by Megan Norgate for Green Magazine. Edited by Stephanie Ruddie and Megan Norgate.