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Should you paint or wallpaper? The great interiors debate!

People are often frightened of using strong paint colours and wallpapers, or even combining the two. Suffice to say there are no hard and fast rules. Bee Osborn explores the merits of both and how they can work brilliantly together for different rooms depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.

Wallpaper and other wallcoverings are a great way to add character and interest to a space.  At Osborn Interiors we tend to gravitate towards simpler but textured wallcoverings such as grasscloth, hessian, silk and linen finishes. By using a textured finish you add a sense of luxury, warmth and depth to a room, without overpowering the design with bold patterns.

One of our favourite things is to use a wallpaper within wall panelling, it instantly creates depth to an otherwise simple panelled wall.  We choose our paint for the panelling to complement the colours of the paper to create a harmonious look. Wallpaper can also be used inside shelving to add contrast too.



Wallpaper doesn’t always have to be used on walls, you can create a fantastic look by covering the ceiling or by using on wardrobe doors – it is a fun way of adding texture and pattern to a room in a creative way. Wallpaper can be used in any room, there are even wallpapers now that are suitable for bathrooms.

You can wallpaper one wall or all five including your ceiling, above a picture rail, within panelling…there are no rules. And actually a cloakroom can be a fun and safe place to play with bold patterns and colours, as it is a small space where we spend little time, making it the perfect place to be brave and adventurous.


Using a dark and bold colour on a wall doesn’t mean a space will instantly shrink and feel gloomy, instead you end up creating the perfect wall for displaying artwork, mirrors and other decorative items. By choosing your other finishes and materials for the space you will determine how dark the room actually feels. For a more dramatic look, you can always paint the woodwork to match.

If you are interested in the paint colours we used in the cottage, we are excited to let you know that we have our own beautiful paint colours launching with Fenwick & Tilbrook.

  • Cotswold Fleece – this calming neutral was influenced by the Spring lambs in the Cotswolds.  Can be used for walls or ceilings or both and provides a warm, bright ‘off white’.
  • Alfie’s Tail – this pretty colour sits happily between Cotswold Fleece and Humphrey’s Paw and creates a tasteful atmosphere with its soft pale taupe hues. I’ve wanted to recreate the colour of my dog, Alfie’s, tail for years!
  • Humphrey’s Paw – this sophisticated green/taupe colour, was inspired by my dog whose paws are just the perfect colour!
  • Cotswold Cottage – after scraping old wallpaper back I found this elegant understated colour looks incredible wherever used.  This chic colour is for the discerning.
  • Penny Black – inspired by living in an old post office, this inky, charcoal, chocolate colour has all the faded grandeur of the first stamp and is a classic beauty.

Top tip: wallcoverings tend to be pricey, so we always recommend using a professional decorator to hang any wallcoverings. This is to ensure the best outcome and finish, especially with pattern matching and disguising seams and joins on your new beautiful walls.

Bee brings a personal approach to each client and over the past two decades has designed a vast array of residential and commercial properties, both in the UK and overseas.  Inchbald trained, Bee and her professional team provide expertise, attention to detail and exceptional creativity to every project they undertake, whether it is a home or a boutique hotel.

Bee draws inspiration from classical design and proportion, but always likes to infuse her work with a modern, up-to-date energy. Together, with her talented team, they produce balanced harmonious interiors that are both practical and visionary.

Studio Osborn 10 Middle Row, Chipping Norton, OX7 5NH.  www.studio-osborn.com


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