The Telegraph
Sunday , June 19 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wall art

Would you like to clothe your walls in wallpaper that uses expensive fabric as a base? Or would you rather pick an even more exotic offering with a crocodile skin texture? If that’s not your style, go totally blingy and touch up your walls with the gleam of 22-carat gold. And if you’d like to go one better, you could even copyright your wallpaper. What goes on your walls can be patented, never to be reproduced for any other wall. Today, wallpaper is no longer what we knew it to be.

Once upon a time, wallpaper was all about staid designs and boring colours. Now they are the new paintings — the showstoppers of drawing rooms. Says Nisha Jamwal, interior designer: “Wallpapers have become so popular that people often change them before a party. The sheer convenience and choices available ensure that the demand is at an all-time high.”

In fact, if you want to give any room a new look without changing much —wallpaper is the answer. Walk into a store, select the wallpaper and let the installers take over. They’ll measure your walls for the number of rolls required and from there it’s just a matter of a few hours to install (provided the wall has already been levelled with Plaster of Paris). Wallpaper has a life of anything between two to 10 years but in humid cities it’s reduced by about half.

With the veritable explosion of wallpaper brands there’s something to woo every buyer — in terms of designs, quality, colours and materials. And you needn’t have very deep pockets either to redo your walls with wallpaper. For at the base price you can pick from those starting at Rs 50 per square foot. At the other end of the spectrum of course it might cost you Rs 6,500 per square foot.

What makes some wallpaper super-expensive is the material used or even painstakingly done hand-painted lines. Shaunali Nanda, joint managing director, Design Workshop, which has brought the London-based wallpaper brand, de Gournay, to India, says: “When real gold and silver is used, the prices go up.”

The market is practically bursting with brands offering countless designs. Pick up Harlequin if you love prints — florals, geometrics and abstracts with a fresh feel. Elitis from France plays around with textures and has imitation animal skin prints. Want a combination of prints and textures? Casamance from France is the answer. Or perhaps you’d prefer the textile-based wallpapers of the German brand, Zimmer & Rohde — all of which are available at Floor & Furnishings, a pan-Indian brand which retails out of three multi-brand stores in Calcutta.

Want more exclusivity? Pick up high-end, limited edition wallpaper from exclusive brands like Sanderson & Zoffany, Osborne & Little and Romo, which come with coordinated furnishings. These are available at Muslin stores across the country. Jamwal says: “Today, a lot of the wallpapers are art-oriented and chic.”

And there are choices aplenty — textured wallpapers, ones that have a leather feel or look like tissue paper, digitally printed and others that have been designed with techniques like screen printing. And the colours and themes are varied too — murals, cartoons, abstracts and entire theme-based scenes.

Vivek Khandelwal, director, Floor & Furnishings, says: “The paper used for each wallpaper, depends on the design, price and quality, and has several variants.” The de Gournay collection uses a lot of silk fabric backed by paper that makes it both luxurious and durable. Elitis, an innovative brand, uses everything from horse hair to cotton cloth.

But what sells more in the Indian market? Deepi Singh, director, Muslin, says: “Textures and floral prints are hotsellers.”

At the top of the heap are custom-made hand-painted wallpaper panels. These can be almost five times as expensive as printed ones. Choose from the designs of de Gournay which can be made bigger or smaller according to the space, given an antique finish or painted in a hue that blends in with your home. And you could create your own patented designs that cannot be reproduced by anyone else with Swastik Fine Art Studio.

But wash away any apprehensions that the hand-painted variety might not be waterproof. Both de Gournay and Swastik use pigments created especially for the purpose. Says Jerry Kaushal, owner of Swastik Fine Art Studio: “You can wipe the surface clean with a wet cloth without damaging the colours.”

So, maybe it’s time to dress up your walls and jazz up your home with the newest in wallpapers? u

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