Jonathan Adler wallpaperThere are so many amazing wallpapers available today from top designers to creative beginners in the industry. Unfortunately, most of them are cost-prohibitive. I could never cover even a single wall with some of the $80/yard papers out there, let alone *cough* $150.
Then there are all the other considerations: wallpaper can make your house harder to sell, it peels over time, you can't just take it down, you can't paint over it ...
But it's so pretty! So I started brainstorming and came up with some ways you can use all those gorgeous designer papers without breaking the bank (or the drywall, when you try to pull it off).
Furniture – liven up an old bookcase or hutch by papering the interior back with a bright, colorful print or solid. Get extra fancy and purchase two patterns in the same colorway and alternate shelves. If you have an old steamer trunk, reline with the paper
Lampshades – Paper the inside with a bold pattern for an interesting lighting effect, and paper the outside for an instant transformation.
Food Containers – Cover old tins and even Tupperware (cheap and easy to find at thrift stores) to get an updated, colorful look.
Magazine Holders – Using old cereal boxes, cut the appropriate shape and decoupage wallpaper on for added stability as well as great color for the office.
Wall Art – Some wallpapers today are just too pretty to line a drawer with, or they have an image that’s worth framing. You can frame the paper under glass or even decoupage it to a painter’s canvas and hang directly on the wall.
Unique Frames – Makeover existing frames using the paper and decoupage medium (it can do everything). Make a really bold statement with an extra wide frame and extra colorful paper around a large mirror.
Switchplates – Using your switchplate to trace a pattern onto the wallpaper, cut out, leaving a little extra around the edges so that you can wrap the plate with the paper. Apply using a decoupage medium, such as ModPodge.
Headboard – Cover an existing wood headboard or cut a new shape from plywood and cover with paper. You could even make a faux headboard by just cutting a shape out of the paper and applying it to the wall behind your mattress (I’d recommend a non-permanent adhesive for this one).
Glass Coasters – Buy inexpensive clear glass coasters and decoupage wallpaper squares to the bottoms. Make sure to use a waterproof medium for these.
Scroll Window Shades – You could just cover the shade with paper using an adhesive, or you could get a little more creative and attach stripes, dots or other shapes. Or use the existing shade as a base for a new woven shade: use long strips of wallpaper, about 2” wide, to create a woven canvas.
Photo Boxes – Cover cheap dollar store photo boxes with a cool textured paper to add a little oomph to those storage shelves. If you want, lightly run over the paper with a colored stamp pad to create a colored embossed look.
Cornice – If you like the look of a structured cornice as part of your window treatments, consider covering a simple wooden one with a stunning wallpaper that coordinates with your fabrics.
Doors and Drawers – A great way to spruce up and modernize an old piece of furniture is to add colorful wallpaper. Line the drawers for an unexpected boost of color, cover the drawer fronts before adding new hardware, or cover a door panel (this works especially well if you have a door with an inset panel).
Votive – Turn inexpensive glass votive holders into fun, stylish pieces simply by wrapping them in a colorful scrap of wall paper.
Matting for Art – Begone with white mats! Sometimes you want something extra special – cover a mat with wallpaper before having it cut. To show just an accent, double mat your art with the wallpaper mat on the bottom.
Serving tray or TV tray – Cover the bottom of a wood or acrylic serving tray for instant style. Upcycle an old metal TV tray (you know the ones, your grandma probably had them) with fresh paint and a new, wallpapered tray.
Books or Albums – These make great gifts – blank notebooks and journals can easily be covered with a super stylish wallpaper that matches the recipient’s personality. Photo albums, too, can usually be recovered for a personalized touch.
Desk or Vanity Accessories – Second verse, same as the first! Take used or cheap vanity and desk organizers and line the bottoms with pretty paper – or go whole hog and cover the entire thing.
Wall Scroll – A pretty ribbon, painted wooden dowels with finials plus a length of gorgeous wallpaper equals a stunning Asian-style wall scroll
Bathub – If you are brave enough, and your tub is… yuck enough, consider covering the outside with a bold wall paper – just be sure to seal it with a waterproof polyurethane. (Common-sense tip: Don’t do this in a rental without permission and don’t do it in a house you plan on selling soon.)
Puppet theatre – A cardboard box covered in dramatic wallpaper can be an instant puppet theatre. Use other bits of wallpaper to fashion the curtains and even different backdrops.
Magnets – Use small scraps under flat glass marbles (find them in the floral section of your craft store) or adhere to flexible magnetic strips. You could even use larger flexible magnetic sheets to create shapes like cupcakes, houses, birds – even a modern twist on the alphabet magnet set.
Nursery Art – Cut out animal shapes and frame them for a colorful grouping. Or buy some pre-cut wooden letters from the craft store and cover with different wallpapers for eclectic name art.
Silhouettes – Forget the old-style black and white. Use wallpaper to create modern silhouettes of your kids. Or, back the monotone silhouettes with a coordinating pattern – a black silhouette on a grey and white damask paper would be beautiful.
Glass Plates – Similar to coasters, purchase inexpensive clear glass plates and use wallpaper to cover the flat bottoms. Make sure to use waterproof decoupage medium and go one step further and coat with a waterproof sealant. These won’t be dishwasher safe, but you can wash them in the sink – just don’t let them soak.
Cards – This is great for smaller scraps of paper – use it as a background, or cut into shapes, such as teacup, for a dimensional add-on.
Envelopes – One of my favorite things to do is make my own envelopes for pretty mailing! (Bonus points if you make them to match your cards.) Free envelope templates are all over the web, but this one is my favorite.