A Room of One's Own: the fearlessly floral interiors of No Feature Walls founder Laura Hunter
The wallpaper expert welcomes Inigo into her cottage in Oxfordshire, where she explores her passion for dramatic prints.
Pattern fanatic Laura Hunter is the brains behind the addictive blog (and accompanying Instagram account) No Feature Walls. Launched in early 2020 as a renovation diary, it is now where she explores her passion for heritage and artisanal wallpaper.
Why wallpaper? “I really love that it has the ability to constantly change rooms with pattern and colour,” she says. “It’s very much like fashion in that you’ve got collections that come out twice a year, usually in September and January. All the big brands will collaborate with other designers too, so it’s just constantly changing. Even if you’ve got a classic print they might recolour it – so there’s always something interesting to talk about.” Taking her at her word, Inigo asked Laura to walk us through the interior scheme of her master bedroom, a cosy space that, what it might lack in size, it makes up for with its wild combinations of contrasting floral textures.
“I love the size of our bedroom, it’s not the typical main bedroom. It’s actually the smaller of the two main rooms, and it’s the one that doesn’t have the en-suite. I guess naturally you would go with the bigger bedroom, but I wanted that cosy feel.
“‘There’s not a lot in there,’ someone said to me, the other day. ‘It’s just a massive bed, isn’t it?’. They were right – that’s really it. But it does have a really nice fireplace – not a working fireplace, because we don’t actually live in the 1800s – which looks great and adds to the cosiness of the room. There’s also a slightly sloping roof on one side which feeds into that enclosed feeling.”
“I started with the wallpaper and worked from there.”
“I wanted the wallpaper to be the main feature in the room, and for it to be the focus. There aren’t any other factors to contend with, like en-suite doors and the like, so I wanted the room to be completely cocooned in wallpaper.
“I’ve always loved the William Morris wallpaper print I chose for this room. I think Morris has probably got around four or five heavy hitter prints, in that they are showstopper prints that everyone is aware of. But out of the four or five most popular Morris prints this, Blackthorn, is probably the least known. You rarely get a wallpaper that has a dark green background. Most of the heritage papers go for a dark blue or something light for the background. So, when I saw the dark green pattern, it was a no-brainer. I had to go for that one.
“The flowers are supposed to be facing upwards according to the sample, but I like them better the other way around. They look a bit melancholy – that probably says something about my personality!
“There are a couple of things you need to consider when choosing wallpaper. Is it pleasing to the eye? Will it work well in the room? You have to consider the size of the pattern and the colours that will be picked up by other items in the room. I’ve also realised how important it is to consider how well the paper will hang. While some papers might look lovely, they easily get bleached by the sun, which seasoned decorators will take into account, but your average DIY-er probably wouldn’t.
“As for the rest of the room, I started with the wallpaper and worked from there, using the green and pink as the main colours and then playing with various pattern florals at various scales. Both the bedspread and bed backboard are vintage fabrics – I picked up the bedspread from a vintage sale that used to happen in my village at the Sue Ryder hospice. It called to me through the mountains of smelly bedspreads! I think it was about £10 and it makes me want to take up quilting as it’s really not something you can source from new nowadays at all. The headboard fabric was part of a deadstock fabric roll which I found from an American seller on eBay. At one point I added a rug, but I had to pare that back once I put in the landing carpet – it was a bit of an overload. It’s a fine line with florals between ‘batty’ and traditional English style – hopefully I am just down the middle.”
“I’ve always loved the Strawberry Thief print – it’s a classic. So much to look at and muse over.”
“I wanted to continue with the Morris theme in my second, spare bedroom but wanted a slightly larger scale as I knew the furniture and general bedroom clutter was going to be less. I wanted to keep the bed really minimal as opposed to the main, so it’s a simple copper frame and one bedside table with hanging lights. One thing I did was cover the light switches with wallpaper, which makes me very happy, as it means the wallpaper pattern is completely unbroken. I am hoping to do something similar with wallpaper tiles (porcelain tiles made to look like wallpaper) in the ensuite later next year. Obviously with no one using the bedroom on a full-time basis it can be a bit more ‘unusable’ and therefore a bit more eccentric. As it happens I now use it as a makeshift office.
“I’ve always loved the Strawberry Thief print – it’s a classic. So much to look at and muse over. It’s one of the Morris ‘big guns’ – those instantly recognisable Morris & Co prints that everyone loves and recognises – and I guess that’s what you want in a guest bedroom. It evokes so many happy memories for me as well as most people that stay. Though someone did once say it reminded them of the bedroom of a dramatic chain smoking old lady!
“My interest in wallpaper probably started when I went to the William Morris Gallery when I was younger. My mother always had wallpaper up – never Morris, though. It was more like what you would get from B&Q or a high street wallpaper manufacturer. My grandparents also had ridiculous taste in wallpaper – really psychedelic stuff that no one would ever put up now. There were lots of different patterns going on in their home and wallpaper would always be one of those patterns. They would wallpaper every single wall of every single room – it was really the whole shebang. So I’m probably inspired by my grandparents. But I also just really dislike feature walls. I think if you’re going to do something, you should just go all in.”
William Morris’ Flowers, Thames & Hudson, 2019
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