Walls, walls, walls. The usual practice when it comes to designing a home is to zoom straight in on paint options, but there's really a whole other world out there — one that's fun, exciting and has the potential to add a whole lot of personality to any room.

Wallpaper has long had a bad rep as being unsuitable for Singapore’s humid climate. But that’s certainly not the case, especially with today’s modern materials; in fact, wallpaper can last just as long as a coat of paint, with interior designers and suppliers both estimating a lifespan of about a decade. (And yes, walls actually need to be repainted every so often; consider it if you haven’t since moving in.)

All that being said, selecting a wallpaper can be difficult — very difficult. Choosing paint comes down to two main factors: finish and colour, but wallpaper adds another dimension: prints.

Stripes, spots, paisley, even ditsy little lemons — there’s no end to the types of prints out there in the world. There’s also the question of whether you want to plaster every surface in your house with them, or use them as an accent. The fear is that you might end up with something that looks like it came straight out of a grandmother’s house or a stale hotel from the 1980s.

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Narrowing everything down and finding the perfect one, plus how much of it to use, is no easy job at all. Still, there are some rules you can follow to make the task a little easier.

First, consider the scale of the area you want to apply wallpaper to. If it’s an entire room, then go with something low-contrast that won’t be an overstimulating nightmare. (Just imagine neon orange and blue stripes all around you — an instant recipe for daily migraines!) Subtle prints also avoid the problem of making a room look smaller and more cluttered.

On the other hand, the smaller the slice of wall, the bolder your print can be. And it doesn’t just have to be walls, either; printed laminates on surfaces can achieve a similar effect of adding texture and personality, without sacrificing an entire piece of wall.

A second factor to consider is colour coordination. Balancing a print with the rest of a room is all about being smart with your use of clashing and complementary tones. A feature wall or panel, for instance, benefits from a bit of pop, so feel free to play with bolder tones and prints that stand out from the rest of the space. Of course, the previous rule as before applies — if it’s a large section of wall, keep the wallpaper itself low-contrast.

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