The POWER of Wallpaper {Don't Be Afraid!}

August 24, 2023

How to add character and color in your home with wallpaper.

I don't know what came over me when we moved into this house years ago, but I've added wallpaper to almost every room makeover so far! Wallpaper is back in a big way, but I never really had any desire to use it until we moved here. 

Maybe I've fallen in love with wallpaper because I had an empty slate, or maybe it's because once you add it once you just want to keep going. It's addictive! 

I'm rounding up all of the ways I've used wallpaper so far -- from little accents to entire rooms covered in it! If you've ever wondered about the different designs I've used, this will be a good resource. 

These examples show the difference it can make in a space!

I also share a few tips about picking out and installing wallpaper throughout this post. 

I've used both pasted and peel and stick wallpaper throughout the house. I shared tips on installing peel and stick wallpaper here

If you use the pasted kind (I'll share how to install it later in the post), I would make sure it's one you really love! I wouldn't do anything too trendy that you may tire of a few years later. 

I used peel and stick on the built in bookcase wall in my office. Here's how it looked before, with the blank wall: 
kitchen cabinet bookcases in office

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I used this peel and stick cherry blossom design on the backs of the bookcase shelves:
green DIY office bookcase

It's a beautiful, understated accent that gives the room a little extra something. This little detail doesn't cost much either! 

I used that same wallpaper in my IKEA closet makeover
IKEA Pax closet organization

Wallpaper tip #1: Don't judge it while it's rolled up! 

I wasn't sure about this gray tweed looking peel and stick wallpaper in our basement when it arrived -- but once it was out of the package and I held it up to the wall, I fell in love!

Take the wallpaper out of the package and hold it up to the wall. Taking a picture of it against the wall helps you visualize it in the space.  

That tweed look lines the back of my DIY basement built ins:
westchester gray bookcases

It helps to make this room feel even cozier!

Wallpaper install tip #2:  Wallpaper first, trim second.

If you are installing trim and wallpaper, I find it easiest to hang the wallpaper first and then the trim (if possible). That way you can slightly cover the edge of the wallpaper with your trim. 

Same goes for installing it behind shelves -- I always hang the wallpaper before building the shelves. 

If ever want to remove it, you can use a razor to score the wallpaper along the trim. 

My first go at peel and stick wallpaper was in our powder room. It was pretty bland before: 
powder room with gray vanity

Since I was adding the board and batten wall treatment I only had to cover the top part of the wall, so it was a good beginner project. 

I hung the wallpaper in this room first and then installed the trim. This makes the process SO much easier. 

I used a pretty navy and gold design that added some drama in this little space: 
white board and batten dark wallpaper

I later changed this room up a bit with this gorgeous floral wallpaper
floral wallpaper with board and batten

I adore this design! It made this small room into a work of art. :) 

We have a little vestibule off our foyer that was calling out for a little something: 
small hallway off basement stairs

I found the wallpaper I wanted, but because it was the pasted kind, I waited it out to make SURE I really wanted to move forward. 

Thankfully the pretty pinstripe design will stand the test of time. I LOVE how this hallway turned out!: 
pinstripe blue white wallpaper hallway

striped wallpaper hallway

It's so fresh, clean and classic. And it looks great with the floral wallpaper in the bathroom. 

Wallpaper tip #3:  Avoid stripes if you're a beginner.

Vertical or horizontal, it doesn't matter. (There's a popular shiplap look that I think would be a nightmare to install.) 

The striped wallpaper in our hallway above wasn't horrible, but that's because I have a decent amount of experience installing it. It was the most difficult one I've hung. 

A grasscloth or tweed look (in our basement) are great options for beginners because the design doesn't have a "repeat." 
Most wallpaper has a design that needs to be matched up as you go around the room, so it can be a bit more difficult to hang. Those two options don't have that and make it much easier (and cheaper) to install.

Our bedroom walls were pretty basic before I added a faux grasscloth wallpaper: 
decorating around TV

The peel and stick grasscloth wallpaper went a LONG way to cozying up this space! It feels like a hug when you walk in here: 
gray grasscloth wallpaper bedroom

Grasscloth is one of my favorites and this version is super inexpensive. 

The vinyl grasscloth wallpaper I used doesn't have the feel of true grasscloth, but it does have some texture to it. And it looks very authentic: 
gray grasscloth around TV

The grasscloth look is more subtle, but sometimes you just want to make a BIG impact. 😀

Wallpaper is a great way to "fill" up big just flows! I also love dressing up small spaces like powder rooms and hallways.

They are the perfect spot to go a little more dramatic, since they are so small. I did just that in this little hallway off our kitchen
art around thermostat

kamala baker indigo wallpaper

I thought the only place to buy this blue and white floral wallpaper was at Anthropologie, and it was seriously expensive! Thankfully I was able to find it under a different name online for much less. Check out that link to find out how to find this option!

This is my favorite wallpaper project to date! I adore this one: 
indigo baker wallpaper small hallway

I wanted to do something more dramatic in our mud/laundry room. This wall with the drying rack is needed something: 
folding table laundry room

OK, I know a lot of other stuff happened in here, but just look at that beautiful floral paper

What a HUGE impact!:
laundry room with floral wallpaper

Wallpaper solves that problem of, "What can I do with this big empty wall for not much money?" 

It has become my go-to solution over the years.

I actually kind of enjoy installing it -- it's like a puzzle to me. If you've never hung wallpaper I recommend starting with a small accent wall and using a peel and stick option. That version allows you to remove and restart over and over (believe me, I know). 

Have I convinced you to add wallpaper somewhere in your home yet? I grew up with the old wallpaper borders in our houses too, but never had to remove them. I know those bad memories have prevented many of you from trying it. :)

Here are direct links to all of the wallpaper I've used in our home: 

Cherry blossom wallpaper in my office and closet.
Similar blue and gold peel and stick in first powder room makeover
Blue and green floral wallpaper in the current powder room (also here)
Indigo and white floral in small hallway 

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  1. I would love to add some wallpaper to the back of the shelves in my study. The walls are very lightly textured. Do I need to sand them first? Thanks.

    1. Light texture shouldn't be a problem, as long as it's a low smooth texture. If it's higher or "spikey" at all, I'd recommend knocking it down just a bit with sanding.

  2. GIRL! This post just reminds me of why you are my favorite home decor blogger. You never fail to inspire me to undertake another DIY project around the house, and wallpaper has become my new obsession. Gorgeous!

  3. Wallpaper in small doses, as you've used it, is very appealing. The peel/sticks might make it less of an eternal devotion thing to do an entire room in a pattern. Traditional pasted wallpaper is an absolute BEAR of a mess to remove, and then the walls usually have to be repaired in order to paint them. Done that, never again. Grass cloth doesn't seem to go out of style, so a whole room of it is more do-able, IMHO. Your papered areas look beautiful!

  4. Did you use the "neutral" or "pearl" color for the office bookshelf walls?

  5. You are AWESOME! I was impressed with your last home, and now this one. You have a great eye for style!


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THANKS so much for reading!