Wallpaper Project: Part A

5 lessons

What's on your walls?

This lesson is about recording all your current wall spaces and beginning to think about them in relation to all of the research you have just done about wallpaper. This could include spaces you have access to such as; the family home, workspaces or spaces whose owners are looking for someone to refresh them.

Lesson menu


  • Access to the internet
  • Something to take images (camera or a phone)
  • Somewhere to add notes about the images (notebook or digital file)

Guiding Questions

  • Have I ever really thought about my wall coverings?
  • What is around me?
  • Do I like them?
  • Do I even notice them?
  • Are they special or unique?
  • What are the functional properties of my wall coverings?
  • Is there a specific space that I would like put my soon to be designed wallpaper?
  • What are my restrictions when it comes to altering my spaces?

Lesson Content

  1. Today you are going to slow down and take a critical look at all of your walls. Examine your walls carefully and think about how they affect the spaces you are in. Do you have white walls that make the space clean, bright and seem larger? Is there a ‘feature wall’ that demands the attention of everyone in that room? Do you have tiles that help to protect the walls from moisture and mess? What about your digital wallpapers? And your exterior walls?

    If you are reading this during the 2020 national lockdown you are limited to your bubble, if not then think about investigating wall spaces other than in your home.

    Keep in mind: design has the power to make tangible change to our lives. So, which spaces need a change and what should guide that change? Light? Joy? Colour? Whanau? Information?

    Lesson Content

    Anjuli's space analysis

Let's do something!

  1. 1

    Document your walls

    Take your camera and photograph all of the walls in your home. If you have access to other spaces such as; workplaces, the family home, community spaces repeat the process there as well.

    Note: this is a documentation exercise - try not to get hung up on getting ‘arty’ shots. However, we have added some tutorials and links to help if you want to build those skills. Check the bottom of this lesson.

    Your photos should:

    • Have realistic/ natural lighting of the space (not too yellow or blue) 
    • Be in focus - yes I said it
    • Be well framed with straight lines using the grid function on your camera
    • Try to limit the amount of photos you take - aim for 4 images per wall (this helps when you are sorting images later)
    • Show the wall in context as a long or medium shot
    • Show a close up of the wall so it fills the entire frame as a close up or extreme close up
    Document your walls

    Close up shot of my blue/ grey textured feature wall; blehk

  2. 2

    Collate your images

    Take all of your images off of your device and store them somewhere sensible. That is, somewhere that is automatically backed up. At the risk of telling you to suck eggs we suggest you use an online platform such as Google Drive to store and back up all of your work. 

    Perhaps something like this:

    Google Drive>Wallpaper Project>existing walls_pics

    • When your images are all safely tucked away in a well-labeled place go through them and delete what you don’t need
    • Get rid of anything out of focus or any double ups (images you don’t need)
    • Collate your images by printing and putting in a notebook or on the wall OR setting up a digital document
    • When displaying (either physically or digitally) put the spaces you are most interested in designing for at the start
    Collate your images

    Suggested folder structure

  3. 3

    Reflect on your wall spaces

    Use the guiding questions at the top of the lesson to do a quick analysis of your wall spaces. Basically, you need to look at the space as it exists and ask yourself how COULD it look if you created a wallpaper for it. This is where you realise if you have an expanded definition of wallpaper. For example, did you photograph your bathroom walls? Are they tiled? Why CAN'T you design custom tiles? Just saying ... 


    • It’s worth taking notes to help clarify your thinking
    • Notes could be handwritten if working physically or typed if working digitally
    • It isn’t as sexy as say, an Adobe product but a Google Doc/ Google Slide is a quick and easy way to collate and annotate your images if you are working digitally ... 
    Reflect on your wall spaces

    Laundry walls reflection

  4. 4

    Select your space

    Now - which space/s are you wanting to design wallpaper for? Note: this could (and probably will) change as your ideas develop. But we need somewhere to start. Write a short guiding statement to help clarify your thinking. It doesn't have to be fancy - keep it simple and to the point.

    Demelza's example:

    I am going to use the walls in my laundry as the ‘specific space’ to design my wallpaper for. The laundry is the only room to have escaped the renovations made to my house by the previous owners. I blame them for the current textured feature walls, the most disturbing golden matric wallpaper ever designed and shiny brown/ gold tiles in the kitchen. While I dislike the choices made before me, I’m not about to make major modifications because I won’t be here for too long. So, whatever I do is with the view that I could take this design with me to my next place, while still giving some life to an unloved space.

    The laundry is like a blank canvas - it still has writing on the walls/ the surfaces are uneven and it’s hidden enough that I could do something that suits me without it ‘ruining’ the other design choices in the house.

    I need to be mindful of the physical conditions of the space:

    • Walls are in a potential wet environment (water damage)
    • Walls need to be able to be wiped down (durable)
    • Direct sunlight from 2pm (sun damage)

    I want to explore:

    • My own design heritage
    • Victorian botanical prints
    • Art Nouveau
    • Conservatories from the 1900’s such as; Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jeckyll’s Winter Gardens in Auckland
    • Native plants from Aotearoa and my own cultural hertitage - meanings and how they have been illustrated in the past
    Select your space

    An antique tile that will help me to start gathering stimuli

Architectural Photography tutorials

So yes, we did say 'don't get too hung up on the photography' BUT ... in case you wanted to here are some tutorials ...

Readings, links and helpful stuffs

Shot types:

Basic shot types

iPhone photography:

iPhone Photography School tips

Apple tutorials (if you have a fancy new phone)

Nice and simple tips

Android photography:

Simple andriod photography

Architecual Photography:

These are a bit more intense ...

10 tips

Format Magazine

Next lesson


Elements and Principles of Design