It’s official: wallpaper is back, the bigger and bolder the better. Pinterest has reported that searches for ‘wallpaper’ were up 41% year on year in 2020, with muted styles out and maximalist patterns and bold colours very much in. But there’s one person for whom wallpaper never went out of style: the interiors influencer and founder of Instagram account @NoFeatureWalls, Laura Hunter. Here she talks personal style, sourcing vintage furniture and why she looks to offbeat for inspiration.
“Growing up, Morris & Co wallpaper was the aspirational thing – if you went to someone’s house and they had it on the wall, you knew they’d made it.” By her own estimation, Laura Hunter has most definitely made it. I’m chatting to the interiors tastemaker over the phone from her Henley home – where she lives with her husband and two children – which is an ode to patterned wallpaper, including – naturally – three rooms decked out in William Morris’s instantly recognisable floral designs.
Describing her style as “Jamaican nan cottagecore”, the maximalist wallpaper lover, who runs her own educational company by day, has created a look all of her own, which has amassed her a loyal following on social media for her Instagram account @NoFeatureWalls, where she chronicles her latest wallpaper discoveries and antique-fair finds at her Oxfordshire abode, where she’s lived since September 2019. She attributes her unique interiors style to her grandmothers on both sides, as well as her mother’s taste in Hunter’s childhood home in north London.
“Wallpaper was always around when I was growing up, which had a huge influence on me, but everyone in my family had very different styles,” says Hunter. “My nan was British, and she adopted my mum [in the 1950s] – she had quite a traditional English taste – there was a lot of Laura Ashley going on. And then my father’s mum was from Jamaica and came here as part of the Windrush generation – she had more of an eclectic Abigail’s Party kind of style, with lots of colours and swirls. My mum always had whatever was fashionable at the time, so in the Eighties and Nineties that was bold primary colours and geometric styles. I guess somewhere between all of those three would be my taste in terms of wallpaper.”
While Morris & Co may have been her first port of call when it came to decorating her current home, with its soothing green ‘Blackthorn’ covering the master bedroom and its whimsical ‘Strawberry Thief’ in the spare room, it is by no means the only brand in the house. A recent addition includes the elegant red-scrolling frond Soane wallpaper based on early 19th-century French chintz in the study. “That’s my favourite in the whole house.”
As for her furniture, that’s a cheerful mish-mash of hunted-down antiques and contemporary picks from Heal’s, Liberty London, Anthropologie and Danish design company Hay. “I do love antiques, but I like to live in the now – if you go too far with a vintage theme, it can look like you’re living in a set.” Anthropologie is also where she often finds her signature printed floral dresses (other favourite fashion labels include Brock Collection, Lug Von Siga and Sézane).
Her number-one place for antiques is the Sunbury & Sandown market at Kempton Park Racecourse, which is held on the second and last Tuesday of every month. “If you take a van, you will come back fully loaded with stuff, and it’s all different price points, from car-boot level to really high-end antiques. The only thing is you have to get there super early – by 7.15am all the decent stuff is gone.”
In terms of inspiration, she’s drawn to the offbeat English styles of Luke Edward Hall and Ben Pentreath, and admires Sophie Robinson for her use of pattern and colour, but admits she doesn’t like to follow other interior designers too closely for fear of losing her own sense of originality. Instead, she prefers a more unconventional approach to tackling interiors. “For me, I’ll think of people whose style I like and take it from there. Like A$AP Rocky and Rihanna – what would their house be like? Could I see them on that sofa? That’s my thought process.”
How to transform and elevate your walls
If you’re new to wallpaper, I’d recommend starting with a smaller space, like a downstairs loo or a guest bedroom that you don’t go into very often, as you can be a bit more experimental. Go for larger-scale patterns or slightly less bold colours at first – or look at texture instead. I’m really interested in textured wallpaper, like a grass cloth or hand-woven wallpaper – you can get the same added depth you would from a pattern, without completely enveloping the entire room.
Choose timeless prints
I can’t bear it when people put things in their home just because it’s on trend. If you’re doing something big and bold like wallpapering an entire room, it needs to be something that you love. Some of the Morris & Co designs I have on my walls are 100 years old, so it doesn’t date. As long as the wallpaper you choose is good quality and it’s been hung correctly – and you don’t mind doing a bit of spot repair every now and then – it should be able to stay up for years.
Toughen things up with darker colours
I would say I’m quite a girly person – I like traditionally feminine things like sewing and flowers and dressing the house. But I knew I didn’t want the house to be too sweet and twee, which could happen with pretty pastel colours. That’s why I don’t have any of those in the house. Most of the florals I have are autumnal colours – reds, greens, dark blues. So even though I may use a lot of florals, they have a moody edge.