Bedroom painting or wallpaper?

Painting a bedroom is generally thought to be easier than hanging wallpaper (unless you're quite skilled at it). But because wallpapers can provide a softer effect than paint finishes, they're often used in bedrooms.

Take care when painting

But remember, for painting to look good you can't just slap the paint on and hope for the best!

To achieve a good finish you need to prepare the walls (which can often take as long as the actual painting), and when applying the paint adhere to the manufacturer's instructions.

If you decide on bedroom painting, you can use all the usual paint effects, such as dragging, ragging, grisaille, stippling and so on.

Pay a little more for a superior effect

Sometimes it's also worthwhile looking at more expensive paints which you can get from specialist suppliers.

These usually have added ingredients which give them a slightly chalky finish. The colors are also more subtle than you'll find elsewhere. You can buy a sample pot of the color first to make sure it gives you the effect you want.

Don't forget stenciling, which gives you the opportunity to achieve a very personal finish. You can buy stencils and use your own colors. It's an ideal way to pick out dominant colors from a bedspread or drape fabric, and put them in a restrained way on your walls.

Click here to find out more about painting techniques such as ragging and stenciling.


painting violet walls

For a safe color scheme most of us will go for the usual white or off-white ceiling.

But you can achieve a great effect by painting the walls and ceiling in the same color.

This works best if the color selected is not too deep, or the effect will be overpowering. Used with lighter colors it is a very effective idea for your bedroom painting.

Note the dark trim on the curtains which matches the valance on the bed. This brings some depth onto the walls which would otherwise look uninteresting.


(If you're looking for color suggestions, then go to the color schemes page. Half way down the page you'll find links to color charts, or you can select them directly from the menu on the left of this page - move your mouse over 'Color Schemes' and then click on one of the color chart links which appears on the right.)


bedroom red cover

A yellow shade on the walls gives a great background for this bedroom.

Here the deep floral fabric of the bed cover and pillows gives a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Have a 'feature' wall

One idea which is currently popular is to have one wall of your room decorated differently from the others, making it stand out. This can be done with both painting and wallpapering.

This idea tends to work best if you have your feature wall painted in a darker color than the other walls.

It can be a very effective way of using bedroom painting to add interest to your room at very little cost.

The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets


red bedroom wall

Here the wall behind the bed has been painted in a deep color to contrast with the other walls.

This is an easy way to have a 'feature' wall.

Notice the pillow in the same color. This is a good way to mix colors in your rooms, as it makes the scheme look balanced.


Divide the walls

Here's another idea with color.

Instead of painting the whole wall in the same color, paint the bottom third in a darker color, and the rest of the wall above in a lighter one.

Paint the lighter color first, then use masking tape to get a neat line where the darker color meets it.

Or use a wallpaper border over the point where the colors meet. Another option is to apply a wood chair rail (dado rail) over the join.

Wall panels

The best way to do this is to set out the panels using wood surrounds. These will make the effect look more professional and permanent. The wood can be stuck or fixed with panel pins to the walls.

This gives a very traditional and classic effect, reminiscent of earlier centuries. You can use either paint or wallpaper in the panels to achieve the required result.

Many do-it-yourself stores supply these sorts of panels in kit form.


bedroom wall panels

An example of panels used in a bedroom.

The panel surrounds have been picked out in white to emphasize the lines.

This photo also illustrates how the lower section of the wall is painted in the darker color of the central panel (you can just see it above the bedside cabinets).


Bedroom wallpaper

If you use wallpaper, remember the usual guidelines:
  • Dark papers will usually make a room look smaller
  • Vertical stripes will make a room look taller
  • Horizontal strips will make a room look wider



Small patterned wallpaper can be a good choice in bedrooms. Linear prints, small floral's, small stripes or geometric designs all work well.

If you want something a little different, use a modern abstract paper, or a traditional French toile paper (generally a single or two-tone eighteenth century country scene).

Of course, you can also use paint effect wallpapers successfully in bedrooms, especially if you want a more traditional bedroom. These are wallpapers which look like various paint effects, such as ragging or stenciling.

Wallpaper borders are a great way of breaking up the walls, especially if you have high ceilings. These can be used about a third of the way up the wall, as well as at the top. An additional bonus is that they work out inexpensive, and can be applied over painted walls.

If you have an item of furniture which has seen better days, you could give it a new lease of life by using the wallpaper or paint on it, which will make it look an integral part of the scheme.


bedroom wallpaper striped

Striped wallpaper can give a feeling of classic simplicity.

Here the wide stripes provide a great background for the furniture.


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