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One Roll of Wallpaper Is the Key to Endless Decorating (So Much More Than Walls)

April 20, 2018

Come on, Let's Get Scrappy. All you need is a little inspiration and...stuff you already have!

A wallpapered room can make quite the artistic statement, but you don’t need a ton of paper to add some “pow.” Whether you have extras left over from a larger project or you picked up one perfect roll of a vintage design without the wall to display it, there are plenty of nifty ways wallpaper can zhoosh up your space.

Add a splash of color and pattern to smaller areas

  • Try papering a single wall, door, closet, alcove, or the ceiling of a smaller room (like a bathroom). Not only will the result be a cheery day-brightener for you each time you catch a peek, but it also can help carve out a space—like an office, play area, or reading nook—as its own distinct area.
  • Another great spot for a busy or vibrant design is stair risers, where it can add a pop of color and pattern without being overwhelming.

Photo by Danielle Wrishko
Photo by Brit + Co

Give your furniture a facelift

  • Revamping a chest of drawers with wallpaper-covered drawer fronts is a popular update, but it’s not the only way. Try covering the side panels for a visual surprise when drawers are pulled out. You can also paper other furniture panels or flat surfaces, like beds, chairs, or room dividers, or the back panels of bookshelves, cabinets, and mudroom cubbies.
  • Use wallpaper as a drawer liner (the removable, self-adhesive kind might be best so you can easily take it out of the drawers at a later date should they suffer from a spill or you just want to change it up). Or use it to line shelves (in a kids’ room, consider lining the underside of the shelves as well so they can get in on the fun).
  • Keep in mind that furniture with flat surfaces and straight edges is easiest to work with, and if you plan to cover a large piece, consider cutting a template out of plain paper before cutting into your wallpaper. If you’re applying paper to a piece that gets a lot of use, Apartment Therapy suggests finishing it with a coat of acrylic or polyurethane (test it first on a separate scrap!).

Turn it into artwork

  • For those of us who hold on to precious pieces of wallpaper for just the right occasion, consider letting them shine as the works of art that they are. Frame and hang them as proper artwork, either mixing them with photos and paintings into a gallery wall or assembling an all-wallpaper collection.
  • For a dramatic effect, display a single sheet of wallpaper from dowels or a quilt hanger—or cover a canvas or big board. Or enjoy it in smaller doses by using it as a mat for pictures or other artwork.

Photo by One Kings Lane
Photo by Brit + Co

Accessorize with smaller DIY projects

  • If you’re itching to bust out your arts and crafts supplies, there’s almost no limit to what you can do with wallpaper: Up your entertaining game by using it to line a serving tray, create a table runner, or decorate coasters.
  • Cover canisters, clock faces, waste bins, and lamp shades (consider wallpapering the inside of the shade for a more subtle effect).
  • Wrap empty cans with wallpaper and turn them into vases, planters, or storage containers.
  • Cut out large design elements—whether you’re tracing a shape in the wallpaper, or creating a different shape entirely—and use them to decoupage furniture or make wall decals.

Photo by Rocky Luten

For all of these projects, how you affix the wallpaper depends on the paper itself, the project at hand, and your personal preference.

  • For example, when wallpapering walls, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended application process.
  • When using wallpaper on furniture or craft projects, try spray adhesive or ModPodge.
  • For cases where you’re using vintage wallpaper, wheatpaste is often the best bet.
  • If you’re excited but a little overwhelmed by the possibilities, dip your toes in with removable, self-adhesive wallpaper and one of the easier projects, like lining a shelf or a drawer—odds are you’ll graduate to bigger papering plans in no time.

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I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.