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Living Space: How to plan a wallpaper project — and pro tips for applying it

Jill Sieracki, realsimple.com on

Gorgeous wallpapers are all over Instagram, but when most of us click “like” on those perfect pics, we believe they’re so beautiful that they’re far out of reach. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought a wallpaper project was too messy or expensive to DIY. And aligning those patterns or creating a straight line? Sounds like a chevron-print pipe dream.

Luckily for you, companies are making pretty papers that are much more wallet-friendly and accessible to DIYers. “If you can assemble Ikea furniture, you can ace a peel-and-stick wallpaper project,” says artist, author and Jungalow blogger Justina Blakeney.

“It doesn’t have to be four full walls in a crazy print,” says Chasing Paper founder Elizabeth Rees. “Start with a small project that will give you confidence to try it again.” Some companies, including Chasing Paper, offer 2-by-4-foot panels so you can work in smaller sections and buy smaller amounts if you’re using them in a narrow nook or utility space. They’re designed so each panel’s pattern will seamlessly blend into the next, helping you avoid the struggle to line up florals or stripes.

Even high-end brands are making their products more user-friendly. York Wallcoverings now offers a water-activated adhesive that lets you slide the panels into alignment; then, if you add more water when you’re ready to redecorate, each piece will easily peel off.

Choose the right look for the room.

Choosing wallpaper is all about personal preference. With the huge array of patterns, colors and textures out there, pinning up sample squares can help you decide what works best before you commit to buying several rolls or sheets. “If you have to learn to love it,” says interior designer Janie Molster, “it’s probably not a good choice.”


If you’re new to wallpaper, consider using it on an accent wall or in a powder room or laundry room—someplace you’re not spending the bulk of your time. A graphic print can have a big impact on a small space, so you’ll get a huge bang for your (literal and proverbial) buck. Alternatively, if you’re struggling with an open floor plan, says Molster, wallpapering one section of the large space can help define distinct living areas.

Add a few panels by your front door to establish an entryway or on the wall behind your dining table to create a visual boundary between your entertaining space and an open kitchen. If you would prefer to do a full room but are apprehensive about going too bold with pattern, opt for a subtly textured wall covering, such as grass cloth. It’s ultra-forgiving when it comes to nail holes too. When you remove a nail, says interior designer Jason Oliver Nixon, “just move the grass-cloth fiber over a little bit and it should hide the hole.”

If you love the current style of your room but want to kick up the character, look into wallpaper that’s the same shade as the room’s most dominant color. Paint companies like Farrow & Ball produce their wallpaper using the colors of their paints, so a transition from solid to patterned is simple.

Prep the wall.


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