10 kitchen wallpaper decor ideas to add character to a cooking space

Make the heart of your home brighter and cosier with inspiring colour and pattern

Green and white leaf print wallpaper behind perspex splashback
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

It's easy to think the only way to decorate our kitchens is with paint and tiles, but that's not the case. Clever use of kitchen wallpaper decor ideas can refresh your space and add a splash of personality.

There are designs, patterns and colours to suit all kitchen ideas, even especially minimalist spaces. Plus, it's an easy way to update the heart of your home without having to call in the pros.

Kitchens are a wonderful space to embrace pattern,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. 'Whether it is a bold, large-scale design that creates a statement or a smaller-scale pattern that can be used on all four walls, it is one of the quickest ways to change a space.'

'Being simple to apply and therefore easily updated, it can radically change the feel of a room in just a few hours.'

Kitchen wallpaper decor ideas

'Wallpaper is a great way of adding another texture and dimension whilst retaining colour throughout the room scheme,' says Jamie Watkins, co-founder of Divine Savages.

'Bringing bold colour and pattern through kitchen wallpaper decor ideas can work wonders.'

1. Reinforce a colour scheme

blue kitchen with restore midnight wallpaper and plywood worktop

(Image credit: Graham & Brown)

Wallpaper can be used to add a contrasting colour - or to bring together kitchen colour schemes. In just about every space there are usually a couple of lead shades. 

Choose a wallpaper which incorporates the two main colours you want to highlight to reinforce the scheme to perfection. Balance the tones by bringing out the less dominant colour through accessories (or a worktop) in the same shade. 

2. Zone a dining space

Kitchen with open plan dining room with earth toned wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

Open-plan kitchens are increasingly popular in family homes where a cooking space is also a place to work from home, dine, host and complete homework. However, creating dedicated areas for different tasks will ensure your kitchen works hard for your lifestyle. 

Wallpaper in an open-plan dining space will make it feel cosier than the cooking area while adding decor that is easier to update than statement kitchen cabinetry that you might change your mind about. 

3. Add interest to open shelving

Open shelving with wallpapered backs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'We’re seeing wallpaper used more to create focal points in kitchens, such as lining in glass cabinets and behind open shelving,' notes Jamie from Divine Savages. 'It is the perfect opportunity to have fun and embrace bold pattern and print, especially for those who like to be a little more subtle with their use of pattern and colour. And you’ll find you probably only need a couple of rolls to make that big statement.'

As well as being an easy way to include pattern in your kitchen, papering the backs of shelves is a great solution for using wallpaper within small kitchen ideas.

4. Mix and match styles

Kitchen with two types of wallpaper, white cabinetry and Belfast sink

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Add personality and interest to modern kitchen ideas by having some fun with your wallpaper. Cover walls with two different types of paper for a sense of fun and individuality. 

Go bold - try pattern clashing for a statement look. Just make sure that both designs have different scales. Two busy small repeats will look overwhelming when placed together.

5. Protect with glass

Green and white leaf print wallpaper behind perspex splashback

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'Avoid using wallpaper in areas with high moisture, grease or smell such as above the stove or kitchen sink ideas, as this can damage the wallpaper over time,' says Ann Marie Cousins, founder, AMC Design. 'Your decorator however can use ploy vine on the wallpaper to make it more robust if needed.'

If this isn't an option and you don't want to break up your walls with an area of paint or tiles, a panel of glass will turn your kitchen wallpaper decor ideas into a stylish splashback.

6. Revamp an island

Green kitchen with wallpapered island and two rattan pendant shades

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

Who said wallpaper has to be confined to walls? Exactly. Get creative a paper unexpected surfaces. This will allow you to dip your toe into colour and pattern, or try out a bold design. 

Kitchen island ideas are a prime spot for this. Paper the sides of the island for a cool hit of pattern. Spillages can obviously still happen, so consider your material choice carefully. 'A vinyl wallpaper would be the obvious answer here as they are almost scrubbable,' advises Stephanie Dunning, Co-Founder, Dunning & Everard. 'However, you will be restricted in your choice.'

'We suggest making decorators varnish your new best friend,' says Jamie from Divine Savages. 'It provides a highly durable, clear finish that protects against water, and stains. Simply apply it over the wallpaper using a brush or roller. Having this product in your decorating arsenal will ensure your wallpaper stays fresh and fabulous in perfect condition for years to come.'

7. Combine paint and paper

Kitchen with paint and wallpapered walls

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Whether you're concerned about the practicality of kitchen wallpaper ideas, or simply aren't a fan of a fully patterned space, combine your paper choice with complementary kitchen paint ideas

Paper the upper portion of the room, so you're keeping it furthest from steam and spillages, and paint the lower section. Painting the walls in the same colour as your cabinetry will create a considered and stylish finish.

8. Pick a fresh floral

bright light kitchen with green cabinets and green floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future Plc/Veronica Rodriguez)

If your kitchen has high ceilings, you might need to be careful in choosing a wallpaper design that doesn't make the room feel smaller. Opting instead for a bright, light and fresh-floral wallpaper, will add the pattern your kitchen needs, but still make the room feel spacious.

Pick a design that compliments your cabinets, or if you have a wallpaper in mind that doesn't, perhaps learning how to paint kitchen cabinets in a new shade is the answer instead.

9. Choose a design that will grow with your home

Kitchen with floral wallpaper and hanging utensils

(Image credit: Future)

Although wallpaper is fairly easy to remove and replace, if you're going to invest in a design that you LOVE but makes your eyes water slightly at the price, you want to know it's going to stand the test of time. 

Choose classic designs and ones you know you will love for years to come. While 'fashion' designs are great for some areas of your home, you want your kitchen to remain practical but beautiful so stripes, florals and designs that reflect nature are good places to start.

'Be as bold as you dare,' says Stephanie from Dunning & Everard. 'Wallpaper is seeing a renaissance in its design, availability and usage. I can remember my mother choosing wallpaper for her kitchen 40 years ago and here we are back again using wallpaper in our kitchens and long may it last!'

10. Stick to a theme

Green kitchen with yellow curtain and yellow floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

If a traditional kitchen idea is what you're aiming to achieve, then go all in with a wallpaper that fits the theme. Pick a pattern in a similar colour scheme as cabinetry and amp up the florals for an eclectic, homely design. 

Order a sample of the wallpaper before buying so you can test it out in your chosen room. Like paint, the colour of a wallpaper can vary greatly depending on the lighting and small kitchen paint colours may look different when used in a larger space, so make sure you look at it at different points during the day.


What wallpaper is best for kitchens?

You can pretty much use any type of kitchen wallpaper decor ideas, just like you would in other room in your home. While there might be a worry about getting it wet if near the sink, or stained if near the cooker, you can avoid these areas or give them extra protection.

Firstly you could place a slim panel of glass over the top of the bottom third of your wall (where the paper meets the work surfaces), to create a bespoke splashback. You could choose to paper the top two thirds of your wall and leave the bottom third painted. Alternatively you could choose the paper the walls on the opposite side of your kitchen, rather than the ones where the washing up and cooking will be happening.

'Most wallpapers are now classed as either washable or spongeable and can be cleaned carefully with a cloth or sponge,' adds Rebecca from MissPrint. 'Wallpapering a kitchen is a great idea to inject a bit of character and quirk into a functional space.'

Is kitchen wallpaper a good idea?

‘So many people ask whether you can use wallpaper in a kitchen,' says Jamie from Divine Savages. 'Will it be ok near the sink, and will it withstand the humidity and moisture from steam and the heat from cooking?'

'We are huge fans of kitchen wallpaper wallpaper decor ideas! A properly ventilated kitchen will happily accommodate wallpaper, and you can easily avoid the ‘danger areas’ by using tiling in areas prone to splashing.'

How do you hang wallpaper in a kitchen?

How to hang wallpaper in a kitchen is done just the same way as you would in any other room of your home. Be sure to give your walls a good clean with a damp cloth first, to remove any grease or dust and let it dry completely before beginning. 

If you're papering a lot of half-height walls and find you have a few off cuts left over from your kitchen wallpaper decor ideas, use them to make artwork, line the back of cupboards or paper the inside of a dresser.

Whether it's a weekend DIY project or you're more comfortable calling in professionals to help, adding wallpaper to your kitchen will create ample personality without too much work. 

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home. 

With contributions from