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Q&A about interior design with wallpaperdirect co-founder Melanie Adams - ANSWERS BACK

(47 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Sep-13 16:51:18

Melanie Adams is joining us this week to answer all your questions on interior design.

Melanie has worked in interiors for over twenty years and has a huge passion for colour and design. In 2000, she co-founded, the first online wallpaper web shop. She went on to launch in 2002, again a first in internet selling. Melanie travels throughout the world to select products this experience has given her an extensive knowledge of wallpaper and other interiors, trends and designs. Post your questions to Melanie before midday on Tuesday 24th September and we'll post up her answers on 1st October.

This Q&A is sponsored by

HeatherMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Sep-13 12:19:21

The Q&A is now closed. We will be sending a selection of 20 Qs over to Melanie and post her answers on Tuesday 1st October.

CarlaBrooni Thu 03-Oct-13 00:02:50

Hello Mumsnet - I'm interested in this Q & A session. Where do I find the answers which were posted on 1 October? Thanks

gazzalw Thu 03-Oct-13 10:13:12

Don't think they have been yet, CarlaBrooni!

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 16:46:53


well the obvious one is "are feature walls over".... discuss

No not at all! They are here to stay for some time to come. From our sales, we can see the quantity of rolls customers buy so they are most definitely still as popular as ever. And remember feature wall doesn’t have to mean bold and bright, it can just be a single wall of wallpaper or paint, which adds impact and catches the eye when you enter the room.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 16:49:49


Hi Melanie, I would love to know why wallpaper companies don't commission more vintage style/traditional wallpapers for children's rooms?

I mean the type which was popular in the 30, 40s, 50s and 60s....very graphic...very pretty prints with novelty type images on them? I could buy them from certain stores in the USA which do re-prints of old styles...but not in the UK!

I am tired of flowers and hearts and stripes...I want balloons, little bo peep or toadstools! grin

We love to hear customer feedback and it’s great to get such valuable input. We are always looking for new and interesting designs for our own wallpaper brand Albany. However, we do have some stunning ranges that have a vintage feel which can be used in children’s bedrooms; try Hibou Home, PaperBoy and Borastapeter’s Lilleby Kids collection. Or if you have a picture/pattern you’d like made into wallpaper, then take a look at Mr Perswall, with this brand you can create your own wall-covering.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 16:52:16


Hi Melanie

We have promised DD (8) that we will decorate her tiny (box room) soon. Could you suggest some funky ideas (with on trend colours), including possibly a wallpaper (one or all walls - what would look best in a very small room?), which will carry her up to teens, without costing a fortune?

Also, we need a narrow adult sized bed to fit too...can you suggest any that are cheap(ish) or would it be cheaper to have one 'built-in'?


Our new Albany Young At Heart range offers a delightful range of wall-coverings created to appeal to all ages. The designs range from nursery elephants, owls and flowers to pink checks, multi-coloured bright stripes or charming damasks. The wallpapers in the collection start from £9.98 with the most expensive at £15.00 so they won’t break the bank and if it’s a small room you will not need too many rolls.

Stripes work really well in box rooms as they have the power to create an illusion of space in a room greatly changing the look and size of a space depending on the direction of the stripe. Vertical stripes on the walls will draw the eye up adding height to a room, whereas horizontal stripes give a side-to-side gaze making a room feel wider. They are also timeless in style so will see you through the years.

Alternatively wall stickers are a fun and easy way to update a room. Keep the walls plain and let them choose their favourite design from butterflies to seashells or even musical notes.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 16:54:30


Hi Melanie
I live in a 1960s house with very large rooms and I hate it (I appreciate how ungrateful this sounds but I can't help it!). I long for small cozy rooms but for practical reasons we are staying put. I like rooms to look light and bright so dark walls are not really an option. Do you have any ideas for making big rooms cozy?

There are a number of ways to stop large rooms feeling cold and unwelcoming. Firstly give your room a focal point with a feature wall. Be it a statement wall mural, bold paint colour or textured wallpaper, feature walls help to draw the eye in. You can also be clever with paint by painting the ceiling and skirting in a darker colour than the walls creating the illusion of a smaller space and it goes without saying that white walls will make a large room look a little clinical so choose warmer vibrant colours like yellows, greens and oranges. Large furniture, good lighting and LOTS of accessories will help finish the look.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 16:56:41


I've got a living room to decorate in our cottagey house. Antique pine floor and doors/woodwork. Brick fireplace and woodburner. Brown battered leather sofas: all of these to stay. I would like to inject a bit of slightly more contemporary colour without losing the cosy feel of the room. It's dual aspect north/south, but not immensely light. If I paint the walls cream again it just seems so predictable. We like a natural, comfortable look but with some art and colour/pattern as well.

I've got a roll of this fabric for curtains and Roman blinds. I like it but I realise it is a bit similar in tone to the flooring - maybe a bit samey?

Could you recommend any paint colours for walls, a large rug, acccents etc, maybe to bring out some mauve/grey tones? I think wallpaper would be difficult as the walls have a slightly rough plaster finish.

I think the colour of the fabric and flooring will work well together with the wooden floor being a neutral shade. As much as I agree that magnolia is a tad dull the walls should be kept quite light as the fabric together with the brown leather furniture will make the room quite dark. I would suggest drawing on the colours in the tartan fabric so a fairly light grey such as Pevensey by Albany Traditions, alternatively a subtle off white shade like Washaway by Albany Traditions would work well. All Albany Traditions paints are available from

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:08:08


Ooh fantastic! Hi Melanie!

My question is about paint not wallpaper. I am planning on painting my bedroom soon (have only lived in this house 12 years, and not got around to it yet! blush). It's a large Victorian room with original decorative cornicing and 10 foot high ceilings. I have decided on dark grey for the walls (Albany Slate) and would quite like to have a coloured ceiling, and the woodwork, cornicing and possibly the bit of wall above the picture rail in off-white or cream. I want quite an atmospheric, dramatic look and I'm not keen on pale pastel colours.

What colour would you suggest for the ceiling? I quite fancy either red or a teal or olive green but I'm a bit stuck as to how dark or light a colour would look best - should it be similar or contrasting to the walls? Also the ceiling has a textured paper on it, not woodchip but not flat either, and I can't afford to replaster at the moment. Would matt paint or something with a sheen look better? Any other advice on getting the look I'm after?

Many thanks! smile

I love coloured ceilings and it’s great to hear people doing something a little different. Slate grey is a wonderful colour for walls and I would go for something that complements the grey you pick. I assume from the colours you mention that perhaps you are trying to create a Victorian look to fit with the style of the house. Although I salute your bravery, it is such a personal choice, I would be a little wary of recommending such bold colours on the ceiling. I agree that white can look very harsh and make a tall room, appear even taller but for such a dark contrast; you would need to be very sure of loving the end result.

Personally I would go for a lighter tone of the grey and perhaps another shade of toning grey for the woodwork and picture rail. Little Greene have just created a grey colourcard, available at, which has greys in toning columns to help you select.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:16:07


Hi Melanie, I have a very large wooden summer house/shed type thing 6m x3m it is filled with junk at the moment but I'd love to turn it into a useable space, possibly a playroom. I could get an electrician to put in sockets and lighting but I'd love ideas of how to decorate a room like this, should I paint it, put flooring/carpet down. I really need help smile

This sounds extremely exciting! I say go for it, what a lovely space to have. I would suggest painting the exterior, an olive green or grey works really well in gardens.

For the interior, go for a mix of paint and perhaps a feature wallpaper wall? Seeing as it’s an outside space and no doubt used more in the warmer months, be daring and go bright! Oranges, yellows, pinks are extremely popular at the moment; they are also classic enough to take you through from a playroom to kids’ den and adult space.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:17:12


I have a landlord that insists on 'neutral colours' for any redecorations.

The previous tenant got away with chocolate for the mantelpiece... Yuk

And grim grey in the north facing front room, which I find a bit depressing. Can you recommend any tones which would count as 'neutral' but would be uplifting for a north facing room?

Most of the flat is magnolia, which I am happy with but would like the front room to be a different colour.


Pastel shades are a massive trend this year, so think sweets and colour pops! Pale pinks, greens and yellows would easily count as a neutral colour, so add a little excitement to walls with one of these shades. Although it may take several coats to cover the chocolate mantelpiece, it will be worth the effort. Pastel shades are pleasing, refreshing and hopefully not one that would have you in the landlord’s bad books!

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:19:01


Hi Melanie,

Can you suggest a grey that is not drab?. High ceilinged room in Victorian house. Stripped floors. 'Tis all!

I really love Lords & Ladies from a special range by Albany which was released to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. It’s a deep enough shade to make an impact on your walls but light enough to be great in the summer whilst still comforting in the winter.
Take a look here:

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:19:40


Hi Melanie

I have a sitting room with quite a low ceiling, and north facing. It's a decent sized room and our main family room. Can you suggest a colour scheme that won't be too cold (but not cream - it's cream now and I don't think it works), will bring in light, and wear pretty well bearing in mind three messy children

Jewel tones are great in living rooms, so think the colours of emeralds, sapphires and rubies. With these colours you’ll be able to use existing furniture and add new cushions and a lick of paint to the walls and you’ll really notice the transformation.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:20:24


Hi Melanie,

I am in the process of redecorating my front living room. I have chosen a wall paper with a camomile background ( Laura Ashley Millwood) and am painting the walls in a natural stone colour. I've been wondering what colour to use as an accent colour for throws and cushions.

I'm worried that the overall look will be too beige without a nice bright colour. It's a lovely sunny south facing room with lots of natural light.

Thank you!

Metallics are a massive trend for 2014, so why not give a copper or bronze tone a try? It will pick up the colour of the wallpaper and the stone coloured walls and make the most of the sunlight your room gets.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:22:29


Hi Melanie.
I'm bored and really need to revamp my living room. It is magnolia at the moment, black sofas, dark wood dining table and pale coloured coffee table. I think the room needs something to make it feel a bit more homely, but have no idea what to do. I am not very good with colours or matching items.
Sometimes I think a nice raspberry colour on one wall or maybe a shade darker than magnolia, and what to do about cushions? Curtains? We don't keep ornaments and nick-nacks so can only bring in colours in furnishings. Floor is laminate

Be brave, raspberry sounds like a lovely idea. You could create a feature wall with the raspberry colour – you can use a lovely textured or paint effect wall-covering so it is not too bold. Clarke and Clarke have a Rattan design in their Wild Garden collection, which is perfect. Or a rich raspberry paint and then use toning shade of taupe on the other walls.

I would stick to taupe/brown shade for your curtains and then use a fabric, perhaps again from the Wild Garden collection for your cushions to co-ordinate. You could be a little bolder with the pattern on your cushions and perhaps bring in some of the colour from your curtains too.

By sticking to one supplier, you make the job of co-ordinating easier to achieve.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:23:22


Hi Melanie,

I put up some pretty expensive Sanderson wallpaper myself a year or so ago and now the edges are peeling - what should I have done in the first place so this didn't happen, and how can I fix it?


It sounds like you either didn’t allow the paper to soak for the stated length of time or the adhesive wasn’t strong enough to hold the edges, when it dried. The technically correct answer is that there is no solution now. But in reality if it is a lovely paper, you could try using a border adhesive. Albany do a small Overlap and Repair tub adhesive. I can’t guarantee it will work and please, please be really careful not to get any on the front of your wallpaper, as this could damage the paper.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:24:17



I am in a dilemma with my Lounge window.

It is a huge bay which almost covers one wall. I currently have curtains but would like some ideas that are not just blinds, I also need privacy (faces the road) and something that will not darken the room.

Please help smile Thank you.

Curtains and blinds are really our thing but if these are not your style, the only other treatment I have seen, which really looked good in a bay window, was shutters. Possibly using shutters which split half way up the window, so you could open the top half or the whole shutter. Painted in a soft shade of green or grey, they can be a stunning effect. You would need to speak to a Shutter supplier for more information.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:25:35


Is it a fire risk to wallpaper a wall with a stove in it? If so is there a way of negating the risk?

This is not usually a problem as modern stoves should be insulated and so should not cause the wall to heat to such an extent that it is a fire hazard. Wallpaper if properly adhered to a wall, poses a very low fire risk anywhere in your room.

You can obtain wall-coverings which actually have fire ratings; these are often used in public buildings and spaces where fire certificates have to be issued. There are usually from commercial wall-coverings suppliers but brands such as Brian Yates have a lot of fire-rated product.

Remember if you are wallpapering the wall around the stove, just as you would for any other heat source such as a radiator, you need to allow the wallpaper to dry thoroughly before putting on the heat. This can take two or three days in a well ventilated room.

MelanieAdams Thu 03-Oct-13 17:27:22


Hello Melanie
I'm having a decor challenge - our bedroom has sloping ceilings on 2 sides as its in the converted roof of our chalet bungalow. We also have wonderful French windows with a Juliet balcony with fab views, magnolia walls and the carpet (only 5 years old) is deep chocolate brown!
I want to inject some colour (thinking dusky reds and oranges) as the walls are magnolia but I'm worried that a feature wall behind the bed will look odd as the wall is marginally lower than the brass bedstead, so it's about 4 inches away from the wall to allow for the height.
Any thoughts? Should we wallpaper or paint all the walls, or just the low wall behind the bed?
Thank you

Sounds a beautiful room and yes I understand your problem. I think I would tend to agree with you that a short feature wall would look odd in your room. From the sound of it, the French windows are the feature in the room, so perhaps enhancing that wall would be the better idea. You could wallpaper the wall with the French windows and add colour to enhance the view. I would suggest going for something with a smaller scale or simple geometric pattern so that you complement the view rather than distract from it.

gazzalw Thu 03-Oct-13 18:42:02

Thanks for the tips, Melanie!

CarlaBrooni Fri 04-Oct-13 14:57:21

This appears to have been a marketing promotion as far as I'm aware. Lots of advertising and not much communication/warmth in-between. Is Mumsnet on the slippery slope?

VelvetStrider Thu 17-Oct-13 08:04:47

Thanks Melanie, really helpful and lots to think about!

MNHQ - I had to search for this thread in my watch list, it didn't appear in 'threads I'm on', and I didn't see it with a sticky at the top of active convos at all. Maybe that's why none of the recipients of the advice have come back to the thread - I'd hate for them to miss the tips and end up in magnolia hell!!!

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