How to Decorate with Wallpaper

By Jan Soults Walker

Make your style "stick" when you spiff up spaces and belongings with wallpaper. Here are a few ideas to get your next decorating project on a roll.

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Dandy wallpaper by Jocelyn Warner
Jocelyn Warner

Wow walls. Lavishing walls with wallpaper is an obvious choice, but have you considered making just one wall pop with a dramatic wallpaper selection? Options are vast, so you can find textures and patterns to support your style, from subtle and chic to sweet and simple to bold and sassy.

Line a bookcase or cabinet. Displayed items on bookshelves and inside glass-door cabinets can sometimes seem lost against a backdrop of ordinary stained wood or ho-hum paint color. Add a little sizzle behind your treasures with a backdrop of colorful, patterned wallpaper, and your collected goodies garner the attention they deserve.

First, paint the cabinet or bookcase a color to coordinate or contrast with your choice of wall covering. Once dry, apply the wallpaper to the back of the bookcase or cabinet interior.

Wrap a frame. You can only arrange artwork so many different ways, but personalize wood or metal frames with wallpaper, and your photos and prints instantly pop. Simply wrap frames with one or more wallpaper selections. Or, wallpaper the mats within the frames instead. 

Top a table. If your tabletop has seen better days, or you're contemplating a makeover for a flea market find, make it one-of-a-kind by covering the top with wallpaper. Smooth the paper in place, then spray on a few coats of clear acrylic sealer to protect the surface. As an alternative, cut out designs from a length of wallpaper and arrange the pieces on a pre-painted tabletop. Secure the designs to the surface with decoupage medium and apply additional medium as suggested by the manufacturer. Finish the top with clear acrylic sealer.

Nature River Wallcovering by Casart Coverings
Casart Coverings
Rev up risers. Step up your style quotient in an entryway by dressing stair risers with wall covering. Use a single wallpaper pattern or exercise eclectic freedom using a different wallpaper pattern for each riser.

Highlight a headboard. 
Awaken a sleepy headboard with a kicky new covering of wallpaper. Cut the wallpaper to follow the shape of the headboard, making the covering several inches larger. Wrap the wallpaper around the edges of the headboard and around to the back. Smooth out bubbles and ridges, then staple into place.

Shine up a shade. Transform an old lampshade into a style statement with a fresh cloak of wallpaper. Drum shades are the easiest to cover because they are the same diameter top and bottom. Before applying the paper, turn on the light and hold the paper over the shade to make sure you like the effect and that it doesn't block too much light. Cut the wallpaper to fit the height of the shade. Use spray mount or double-stick tape to secure the covering to the shade. Finish the edges with bands of coordinating ribbon, braiding, or cord.

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