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In Conversation With... Paul Moneypenny

In Conversation With... Paul Moneypenny

  Having wowed his way to the semi-finals of this year's Interior Design Masters with his quirky style and glorious wall coverings, Paul Moneypenny has definitely left a lasting impression on us! His bold colour palettes and striking designs never failed to excite and inspire over the course of the show, helping him secure a coveted semi-final place and recognition within the world of interior design. 

We grabbed some time with him to discuss all things wallpaper and discover the inspiration and top tips he has for creating some maximalist magic!

EJS: Thank you for joining us today Paul (albeit virtually!), you have found such success with your love of wallpaper, what attracted you to the wall-covering industry to begin with?

Paul: Growing up, my family always had wallpaper somewhere in the house and I was always involved in the choosing of my bedroom decor from a very young age. While my parents would be pointing out simple pale blue stripes I would be looking at multicoloured aztec designs and I always had something to say when my parents were picking out colours for the lounge or the kitchen. Also, here in Northern Ireland, we had to back all of our books with wallpaper and of course, I always had to have the best wallpaper in the class! 

EJS: I can imagine that you were never a wallflower!... Have you always worked within interiors?

Paul: Most of my working life since I left school has always been around wallpaper, colour and design. When I left school and went to art college, I always knew I wanted to do something that involved being creative. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into architecture or graphic design but then I sort of fell into interiors and it went from there! I started working in a small interior design company and then after about 5 years I moved on to where I am now, Nobletts Belfast, which is one of the biggest independent wallpaper stockists in the UK. So my background is mostly wallpaper and I’m surrounded by it every day!

EJS: Do you have any tips for budding designers looking to get into the industry?

Paul: I think the first thing you have to do is start believing in yourself, if you have a passion for it and you’re enjoying it, to push that. There is so much out there, like online courses, there’s a world of design that you can explore without having to go and sit in a college. I would also say photograph everything you do, my camera roll is thousands of pictures!

EJS: The team at EJS loved you on Interior Design Masters and all of your fabulous creations! Tell us a bit more about the experience?

Paul: I remember watching series 1 and thinking how lucky are these people that are submerged in this world of design every week and they get these fun tasks and I remember thinking “oh I would’ve done that different or I wouldn’t have done that” as you do! And I remember thinking if that ever comes up and there’s a series 2, I have to apply for this… And here we are! The casting for series 2 was so rigorous, there was I think 5 rounds of casting, with lots of mock tasks and design challenges to take part in and what a group of 9 really talented designers I got cast with, I remember thinking no chance here, what am I up against! 

I think the first thing you have to do is start believing in yourself, if you have a passion for it and you’re enjoying it, to push that.

EJS: ... But you made it all the way through to the semi-finals, that must have been a great feeling! What were your favourite schemes over the course of the show?

Paul: I think the one I look at all the time when I look through pictures is my beach hut, which was the 1950’s American retro but as far as letting myself loose with design and really throwing myself into it, I would say it was probably the week where I was teamed up with Lindsey on the salon design. I love a bit of foliage, and of course wallpaper, and that week it really just all came together so well. It’s definitely a good toss up between the beach hut and the salon! 

EJS: We could see on the show you were really hands on, especially when it came to putting up the wallpaper. We find a lot of our customers are nervous about doing it themselves, do you have any top tips? 

Paul: This is a question I get asked a lot and it’s something I love answering, what I always say is, it is only paper, the house will not fall down if you get it wrong! It’s all about the preparation and having the right tools to hand so make sure you have a really sharp blade, a pair of scissors and a clean damp cloth with some clean water beside you, just to make sure you’re cleaning your sheets down properly. A top tip for first time wallpapering is make sure you’re doing a straight-forward wall to begin with, nothing with too many alcoves or plug sockets and if you are feeling quite nervous still, it’s best to choose a ‘paste the wall’ wallpaper as it will make your job so much easier!

EJS: You have a real eye for pairing patterns and colours within a scheme, do you have any tips for people that feel a bit lost when it comes to choosing multiple prints and colours?

Paul: I always find whenever I’m doing a scheme or a moodboard for someone, I try and identify the object that will be the main feature, whether that be the wallpaper or sofa and not try to take away from that but just try to elevate it. So if you’re doing this at home, I would suggest picking where you want to place your feature in the room or what pattern you want to be the focal point and then breaking this up with solid colours (using the palette within your chosen print) and even stripes, checks and spots also provide great compliments to loud patterns. 

Whenever I’m doing a scheme or a moodboard for someone, I try and identify the object that will be the main feature, whether that be the wallpaper or sofa and not try to take away from that but just try to elevate it.

EJS: At EJS we believe in design for the long term and are anti fast fashion, are there any interior trends that you think are here to stay?

Paul: One of the trends that I feel is going to be a key staple in home decor is tropical/botanical. I actually have really loved that style for the past 3-4 years and when I first brought it into where I work, customers were not so sure on it and I think it originally was a bit of a trend but I think as time goes on it is going to be a real staple part of design that’s going to stay. It not only is a way to bring the outdoors in but it also brings joy, colour and personality to all spaces.

EJS: You must see some badly decorated spaces, what would you say are your top interior faux pas?

Paul: I would say, quotes on walls or canvas, tea, coffee and sugar canisters on display or plain grey and white rooms with no colour or texture!!

EJS: Finally, what is your favourite EJS wallpaper design?

Paul: I love your whole book so much and it is super difficult to decide my favourites, but the one I always get drawn in by is Lost World in pink. I just love the fact that when it’s hung on a wall (or ceiling!) it has a real geometric effect and that shade of pink is so perfect as you can fit it with so many colours!