Wallpaper is back in a big way in home home design. In decades past, hanging wallpaper often meant swathing rooms and perhaps even the entire house in an elaborate and sometimes garish pattern.
But as with nearly all home trends that fade away and return years later, wallpaper is a bit different in its latest iteration.
“Today, there are so many patterns, colors and styles that can fit one’s personal aesthetic,” says Brittany Farinas, creative director at Miami-based design studio House of One.
While wallpaper’s main function is indeed to paper over walls as a complement to a room’s design and color palette, there are other ways to incorporate this throwback trend without taking over much – or even any – of your wall space. Here are some creative DIY wallpaper projects, most of which can be completed in an afternoon:
1. Transform Shelving
“Adding a colorful wallpaper to shelves, especially if you have glass-front cabinet doors that you are looking to modernize, is also a great way to add a pop of personality to the space,” says Gena Kirk, vice president of corporate design studio at KB Home. Another option is to apply wallpaper to the backs of glass-covered cabinets for a low-cost transformation with high impact for your kitchen.
As an alternative, if you’ve got an overpacked china cabinet or kitchen cabinets full of mismatched plates and glassware you’d rather keep hidden, you can use wallpaper to cover the glass from the inside. Cut a piece to fit the glass portion of the door and attach with strong double-sided tape along the edges for a new look for your cabinet doors.
2. Make the Ceiling a Focal Point
“Wallpaper can be absolutely beautiful on a ceiling, especially when layered with a statement chandelier,” says Leigh Spicher, interior designer and national director of design studios at Ashton Woods, a homebuilding company headquartered in Atlanta. She notes that the ceiling must first be finished with smooth drywall before you attempt to apply wallpaper.
Farinas agrees, calling wallpaper on a ceiling a “daring” design move. ”It truly creates an impact when one enters a room,” she says.
3. Use as Decorative Drawer Liners
“Adding wallpaper to drawers is often less expensive than typical drawer liner and can be more durable,” Kirk says.
Spicher likes using wallpaper to line dresser drawers and kitchen drawers. She notes that this is a good way of using leftover scraps from a larger project.
You might be wondering if liners are necessary if you’ve got brand-new furniture, but they can be quite helpful. If something spills or stains the inside of drawers, liners make cleanup easier. Plus, when putting any delicate items in drawers, the liner acts as a buffer to protect both surfaces.
4. Upgrade a Closet
Farinas likes adding wallpaper in a closet, particularly a walk-in, for an unexpected design element. Use it to line the shelves, the inside of the door, and yes, even the walls. You’ll instantly upgrade the utilitarian nature of any storage – and it might be a welcome distraction from an otherwise messy closet, too.
5. Refresh the Look of Old Appliances and Surfaces
In the past, wallpaper had a reputation for being a nightmare to remove. Luckily, times have changed.
“There are also renter-friendly peel-and-stick options that can be easily changed (and are not) as permanent as paint,” Farinas says. Indeed, this type of removable wallpaper is a great way for renters to add some personality to their space without losing their security deposit. But it’s also great for homeowners who want to give their space a facelift without breaking the bank.
Aside from its easy on-or-off application on walls, temporary wallpaper can create a fresh look in other spots, like tired old appliances and dull kitchen surfaces. From wrapping your refrigerator to covering up the front of the dishwasher to freshening up an outdated backsplash, peel-and-stick wallpaper can give new life to bland spaces.
6. Frame and Hang as Artwork
If you do want wallpaper on a wall but don’t want to go through the laborious task of hanging it, there’s still a way to display it that will take up much less time and energy.
“Framing wallpaper to use as wall art is another inexpensive way to create a dramatic change,” Kirk says. “As a bonus, you can easily switch out the wallpaper featured to instantly transform the space.” It’s a simple way of creating a one-of-a-kind piece using the wallpaper and frame of your choice.
7. Upcycle Wallpaper Scraps as Gift Wrap
If you’ve got extra wallpaper scraps after completing one of these projects, Spicher has a suggestion for putting them to good use – and this time, all you’ll need for adhesive is a roll of tape.
“One of my favorite ways to use leftover wallpaper (is for) gift wrap,” Spicher says. “It’s often a beautiful or unique design and perfect for durable gift wrap.”
Intrigued by the idea of using wallpaper somewhere in your home but have visions of an imminent DIY disaster? Farinas says, “I recommend measuring beforehand and getting a smoothing tool specifically designed for wall coverings for a streamlined installation.”
And when in doubt, there’s always peel-and-stick wallpaper.