14 contemporary wallpaper design ideas

From natural textures to statement tropical prints, give your walls a new lease of life with these super stylish contemporary wallpaper ideas

pink tropical feature wall in study with wooden floor and desk
(Image credit: Wallsauce)

Contemporary wallpaper designs seems to have had a bit of a resurgence of late, and for good reason. Whether you're looking to update your living room, or give your bedroom a much needed refresh, a well chosen wallpaper can make the world of difference, adding character, texture and colour. To prove that there's a wallpaper to suit every style and space, we've gathered together a selection of our favourite modern wallpaper design ideas. 

For all things wallpaper, go to our dedicated hub page. And, once you've made your all important choice, check out our step-by-step guide to hanging wallpaper

1. Get a natural touch with a wood effect wallpaper

For instant warmth and texture within your scheme, create a natural-looking feature wall with wood effect wallpaper. Combine with knitted textiles and plenty of greenery for a cosy, inviting and somewhat Scandi feel. 

We especially love the Albany wood panelling wallpaper, available at Wallpaper Direct, for a similar look. 

wood effect wallpaper with leather bed and wooden flooring

Couple with a faux leather bed, like this one from Dreams

(Image credit: Dreams)

2. Boost a small room's size with bold stripes

A bold stripe running through a wallpaper is a visual trick that can be used to make a room feel larger. Hung vertically, it adds perceived ceiling height; widthways, it will make the room feel wider. A perfectly simple design trick for a small space.

If this paper has caught your eye, find more grey wallpaper ideas in our design guide.

striped grey and silver toned wallpaper with grey side table and glass accessories

White wicker baskets make for a great small bedroom storage solution, without detracting from the luxurious feel of a space. Find similar at Zara Home. Similar Baroque Bead Stripe Platinum wallpaper from Graham & Brown

(Image credit: Graham & Brown)

3. Create a calming space with wallpaper in aqua shades

The tranquil tones of blues and greens are perfect for a bedroom. Up the depths of the colours' tones with watercolour mural like this and create a sophisticated space with a generous helping of Zen. 

Made to measure, this Abstract Turquoise Watercolour mural from Wallsauce has a very millennial feel to it, particularly when paired with complementary blush pink bedding.

Find more modern bedroom ideas, this time with paint.

watercolour inspired wall mural in bedroom with grey toned bed and blush pink bedding

Blush toned bedding adds to the calming feel of this modern bedroom; find similar at Dusk

(Image credit: Wallsauce)

4. Add an exotic feel with Moroccan-inspired wallpaper

If you’re blessed with high ceilings and good natural light, a strong, floor to ceiling pattern is certainly doable. In smaller rooms, papering up to a dado rail and painting above it makes for a safer, space-enhancing alternative. 

When choosing a complementary paint colour, make sure it draws out the paper’s more subtle tones; light blue would be a good option here. Our guide to how to choose the perfect paint colours for every room in your home is a handy read if you're not sure where to start. 

Inspired by mosaic tile work characteristic in Moroccan architecture, the Zellige Collection is from Cole & Son.

moroccan style tiled wallpaper with bright yellow sofa

The Martyn Lawrence Bullard Collection from Cole & Son is a great place to find Moroccan inspired wallpaper designs

(Image credit: Cole & Son)

5. Choose an understated wallpaper for subtle style

If your taste in wallpaper is a little more subtle, it’s worth considering something neutral toned with an intricate repeat pattern. It’s a step up from painted walls, adding a little more depth and interest to a room’s finish, but is a great option if your personal style is more minimalist.

We love this Gold Spot Wallpaper from John Lewis. Find more white wallpaper design ideas, too.

gold spot wallpaper with plates and sideboard in front

These colourful bowls add a real pop of colour to an otherwise neutral colour scheme. Find similar at John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

6. Add period character with vintage floral wallpaper

Equally as suited to a child's bedroom as it would be in a country-style kitchen, a vintage-style floral wallpaper makes an inviting addition to a home, irrespective of whether your interiors style is traditional or more contemporary.

This Lisa Wallpaper  from Sandberg, available at Wallpaper Direct, has enduring appeal. Couple with the bold lines of an industrial inspired bed, like this one from Julian Bowen Papplewick, for a more traditional feel. 

Browse more of our beautiful botanical wallpaper ideas for more floral wallpaper design inspiration.

blue toned floral wallpapered bedroom complete with industrial style white metal bed

These full-height premium teak blinds from California Shutters really enhance the country feel of this space

(Image credit: Sandberg Wallpaper)

7. Get a style hit with Mid-century modern wallpaper

Obsessed with the Mid-century modern interiors style? Choose a wallpaper – and colour scheme – that could date from the era to achieve your desired look.

This Aranami (meaning raging waves) paper from Farrow & Ball is a great alternative to florals and is inspired by a Japanese crafted paper-cut design. The use of a flowing pattern also means that it had both a masculine and feminine feel to it that's perfect for a Mid-century inspired scheme.

If you like this idea, browse more of our Mid-century modern decor ideas.

blue wallpapered living room with yellow border work

Aranami wallpaper by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

8. Mix and match patterns (stylishly)

Maximalism is all about clashing patterns and your bedroom is the best place to start. Combine a bold wallpaper with a printed duvet, rug, blinds or curtains for a scheme that really stands out from the crowd. 

Find this Palm leaf green wallpaper at Graham & Brown, then browse more of our maximalism design ideas.

tropical wallpaper pattern clash with vibrant tropical bedding

For this  Tropical butterfly reversible duvet set and Pineapple lamp, see George Home.

(Image credit: George Home)

9. Be creative in a kid's room with a mural

Kids' bedrooms should be fun and colourful spaces, with plenty to inspire their young minds. Grab their attention with colourful bedding and a bold wall mural that can be replaced easily as their tastes change.

Try Graham & Brown and Surfaceview for a range of designs. There's plenty more inspiration over in our clever kids' room design ideas, too.

children's bedroom with moon wall mural, child's bed and vibrant bedside table

Choosing wallpaper for children's bedrooms can be tricky, especially as their taste can change so quickly

(Image credit: Cosmos)

10. Pick a soothing tonal print

Looking to create a calm scheme with wallpaper? Choosing a design that creates a subtle tonal contrast rather than a stand-out clash will help make a busy room feel more laid-back.

The intricate floral design running through this Helleborous wallpaper from Farrow & Ball helps to soften its bold yellow tones. Its organic pattern is intended to hint at growth and rejuvenation, transforming the home into a warm and wonderful retreat. Further enhance this feel with wooden furniture. 

light yellow wallpaper with fine line drawn white floral patterns throughout in a living room space with wooden furniture

For similar rattan furniture, see Ikea 

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

11. Embrace the trend for tropical prints

Pair over-sized tropical wallpaper patterns with an otherwise white scheme and the simple silhouettes of Scandi-inspired furniture to create an eclectic, on-trend look that's bright and inspiring.

This Pink Jungle Wallpaper from Wallsauce is a great way of incorporating tropical trends into your home.

pink and tropical feature wall in an office with more simplistic, scandi style furniture

For a similar desk, take a look at Fjorde & Co available at Wayfair

(Image credit: Pink Jungle)

12. Create a rustic feel with photo realistic wallpaper

Looking to give your walls a panelled effect? Save yourself time and money by opting for a cheat: a photo realistic wallpaper. 

Incredibly convincing, this NLXL Scrapwood wallpaper from The Longest Stay is the perfect option if your style is more industrial-inspired. Its white and brown scrapwood design has the ability to transform any space, making it a top choice for those seeking a rustic feel that looks authentic.

wooden panelling effect wallpaper

Printing on high resolution, heavy-duty wallpaper gives this design its realistic finish

(Image credit: The Long Stay)

13. Match complementary colours

Combining paint and wallpaper can be an effective way of giving a room a new lease of life. Opting for paintwork of a similar hue to your wallpaper can be a great way of ensuring that a bold print fits within a space. 

This Camellia wallpaper is paired with Smalt Paint, both from Little Greene, for a modern floral feel. High ceilings and ample natural light prevent this bold patterned paper from overwhelming the space.

blue floral wallpapered bathroom with great natural lighting

If you're looking for bathroom storage solutions, a chair positioned strategically by the bath makes a great spot for storing fresh towels

(Image credit: Little Greene)

14. Create a contemporary look with an on-trend terrazzo mural

One of the perks of wallpaper is the ease with which it can be changed to suit evolving trends and tastes; particularly when used to form a feature wall in an otherwise neutral scheme. 

Terrazzo and pastel shades are two big interiors trends for this year, making this Big Pink Terrazzo Wall Mural from Pixel a great option for a space with a contemporary feel. Pair with accessories in a similar hue for a cohesive finish – cushion covers are an affordable option which can also be changed out in accordance with trends.

Browse more of the top interior design trends for the coming year if you'd like this to influence your choice of wallpaper. 

living room with terrazzo mural on wall by pixers

(Image credit: Pixers)

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Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.