My favorite part of visiting historical homes is hands down, the wallpaper. Ornate, textural, colorful, geometric, gilded, florid — these are the kinds of patterns that transform a space into a realm. For this week’s How-Tuesday, we’re sharing a project from Wallpaper Projects, as well as general instructions for installing wallpaper yourself. In Derek and Lauren’s book, innovating with this inspiring material to produce brooches, lampshades, medicine cabinets, and room dividers brings instant design to any element in your home. The Headboard how-to below is an easy way to customize your bedroom with the option to change it up every few years. And since even Marimekko has jumped on the wallpaper bandwagon, it’s time to take paste into our own hands.
Do you use wallpaper in unusual ways? Comment on this post and you’ll be eligible to win a free copy of the book, or pick one up for yourself here.
It’s beautiful. Yes, this is certainly true. If you’ve spent any time browsing home decor books or magazines, or clicked around on any design blog worth its salt, you’ve undoubtedly noticed all the gorgeous contemporary and traditional wallpapers making their way back into the mainstream of interior design. Artists and designers of all stripes are not only rediscovering wallpaper, they’re reinventing it. Aided by remarkable innovations in digital printing, design, and distribution, many manufacturers are exploding traditional expectations of what wallpaper can be, offering consumers all sorts of new and exciting options — from types of paper and ink to alternative eco-friendly materials to affordable custom designs.
It’s versatile. Sure, paint is great, but it’s got nothing on wallpaper. Even with 101 different shades of white to choose from, painting a room can only get you so far. Wallpaper, on the other hand, can (and will) completely transform a space. Depending on what pattern, motif, or colorway you choose, applying wallpaper to even just a single accent wall can make a room feel tall, wide, small, big, bright, dark, fun, serious, quiet, loud, funky, classic…whatever look or mood you’re going for, there is a perfect paper out there for you.
It’s easy and fun. Forget all your preconceived notions about wallpaper. It isn’t messy, or hard to install. It’s not some sort of interior design tattoo that you’ll be stuck with forever. The papers and adhesives on the market today have made the whole process much safer and more forgiving, and the results more durable yet even easier to remove. If you make a good game plan and use the right tools, we bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy wallpapering actually is.
It’s great on and off the wall. Every wallpaper project is different, but one thing they all have in common is leftover scraps. With a bit of crafty ingenuity you can turn what would normally be inevitable waste into a unique opportunity to beautifully accent different areas in your home, create personalized stationery and accessories, revamp tired pieces of furniture, create frame-worthy works of art, make one-of-a-kind gifts…the options are endless. We’ve included more than 50 fun projects in this book to get your creative juices flowing.
Since we’ve never found a headboard we were in love with, we spend an inordinate amount of time in the morning fluffing up our pillows to conceal as much of it as possible. Crafting one out of wallpaper opens up all kinds of possibilities: Not only can you play with colors and patterns, but you can cut out shapes as ornate or simple as you’d like.
Large piece of scrap paper for template
Blue painter’s tape (optional)
Brush or paint roller
1. Measure the width of your bed and decide how tall you want the headboard.
Standard Bed Widths
- Single: 39″
- Double/Full: 54″
- Queen: 60″
- King: 76-78″
- California King: 72″
2. To create a template, photocopy or trace our Headboard template or draw your own template design on scrap paper. To ensure symmetry, make the template for one half of the headboard and flip it over so that it mirrors itself when tracing out your design. You can download a PDF of the Headboard template here.
3. Cut out the template from the scrap paper with scissors, and trace the design onto your wallpaper of choice. If your design is wider than two sheets of wallpaper, you may need to align and piece three sheets together. We suggest lining up the seams and temporarily taping them into one piece with blue painter’s tape before tracing and cutting out your design.
4. Cut out your wallpaper headboard, and apply the paper to your wall as you would normal sheets of wallpaper. See general instructions for applying wallpaper below.
Applying Paper to Your Walls
Two sets of hands are better than one when it comes to handling long expanses of wet paper, so it’s a good idea to invite over a friendly helper.
First, read the instructions that came with your paper. Different manufacturers may recommend different methods for installation. Prepasted papers, for example, just require a quick soak in water. But in general, the following instructions pertain to most situations. Cover your table with a plastic drop cloth and have all your tools within easy reach. Then, start pasting.
1. Lay your wallpaper strips on top of one another, pattern-side down, with the first piece on top of the pile. (When you spread the paste over the edges of the top piece, it’ll go directly onto the back of the next piece, which means less mess and no wasted paste.)
2. Pour a nice, big glob of paste into a paint tray.
3. Use either a wallpaper brush or a paint roller to apply an even layer of paste to the entire back of the paper, working from the center out to the sides. It’s especially important to make sure you get the edges, which will prevent your seams from showing. Because nobody wants their seams showing, right?
Once you have full paste coverage on your strip, it’s time to book it. “Booking” your paper involves laying pasted sides together — which seems quite counterintuitive but ends up saving you space and ensuring better adhesion of your wallpaper. This process will allow the paste to activate and be properly absorbed by the paper. Rest assured, it will pull apart just fine.
1. With your first strip pasted-side up, grab one end and bring it toward the center of the strip, creating a very loose fold. Without creasing the paper, place the end down so the pasted sides are together.
2. Bring the other end toward the center and place it so that the cut lines are butting — thereby essentially folding your strip into thirds.
3. Now you can fold the strip onto itself a few times (no creases!) and set it aside while you paste up the next one. You can leave booked pieces in a plastic bag for up to half an hour without any problems. We generally paste and book 4 to 5 pieces at a time.
Hanging It Up
This is it. The moment of truth — applying the pasted paper to your wall. This is also when you discover wallpapering is much easier than you imagined it would be. The paper is totally manageable, the paste surprisingly forgiving… Congratulations, you are minutes away from enjoying a magically transformed room.
1. Use a level and a pencil to lightly mark a plumb (perfectly vertical) line on your wall where you want to put up the first piece of wallpaper.
2. Unfold the top half of your first pasted-and-booked strip and, beginning at the top of the wall, line its edge up with your plumb line.
3. As you line up the edge, press the paper against the wall and begin smoothing it down with your smoothing brush.
4. Once you reach the middle of the wall, unfold the bottom half of the paper and continue lining up the edge with the plumb line, smoothing as you go. You may notice a few small air bubbles, but don’t panic — those will disappear as the paper dries. If there are a number of large air bubbles that are making you nervous, gently pull the paper away from the wall and smooth it down again.
5. With the paper in place, nice and straight, smooth the entire strip down with your brush, working from the center outwards.
6. Repeat the same smoothing process with your plastic float. This will spread the underlying paste evenly out toward the edge of the paper and press your seams flush to the wall.
7. Grab your second pasted strip and repeat steps 2 through 6. But instead of lining up the edge with the plumb line, you’re now matching the pattern of the wallpaper.
8. Once you’ve got a few pieces up, gently wipe down the paper with a damp sponge, especially at the seams, to remove any paste that may have made its way out onto the front.
9. Continue pasting up your strips until you reach the end of the wall.
10. Place your 4″ broad knife at the top of the wall where it intersects with the ceiling or molding. Carefully slide the blade of your utility knife along the edge of the broad knife to create a clean, straight cut. Continue cutting in this manner until you’ve reached the end of the strip. Snap yourself off a fresh blade and move onto the next strip.
11. Repeat the same cutting process along the bottom edge of the paper where it intersects with the floor or molding.
Do you use wallpaper in unusual ways? Comment on this post and you’ll be eligible to win a free copy of the book, or pick one up for yourself here. Thanks to Derek Fagerstrom, Lauren Smith, and the good folks at Chronicle Books for sharing this project with us.