As a city renter in a small apartment, I find it easy to have lots of great ideas but then wave them off, saying, “Well, we can’t make any changes to our space anyway.” I mean, if I told our landlord that we wanted the paint color for our walls to patch and paint a small nail hole, she would probably send in her own crew of painters to do the touch up. I am no stranger to landlords who want their hands in all changes and repairs. That’s why this removable wallpaper was such an incredible discovery.
Yes, I realize you have probably heard of peel and stick wallpaper by now – it is popping up everywhere – but have you considered actually making a move and trying it? Or are you just browsing Instagram and Pinterest admiring all of the the before & after photos?
A week before Thanksgiving, Chris and I decided to turn down an apartment around the corner from where we currently live. The potential new unit had a washer and dryer in the building, it was in a quiet, secluded location, and had big, beautiful windows. We were about to pull the trigger and make a move in just two weeks, but after sitting on the floor in the new place and talking it through for hours on a Saturday morning, we decided it just wasn’t the right choice. After looking past the small inconveniences, we saw so much more potential in our current apartment. We made a pact while sitting in that empty apartment (pinky promise and all) that if we were going to stay in our current home, we were going to start investing in the space and making some changes, no matter the length of time we live here. First thing on the list: removable wallpaper for a bedroom accent wall.
After hanging a couple of samples and staring at them for a few weeks, we decided on a pattern and purchased wallpaper for our accent wall from Tempaper for under $100. When we peeled the samples off of the wall, the paint was perfectly in tact and all that was left was an invisible sticky residue; easily remedied with a fresh paint job, which your landlord should do for new tenants anyway.
I’ll admit, the wallpaper sat in the box for about a month after it was delivered. There is literally an excuse to make every day as to why “it isn’t the right day to start a project.” (That, and the great debate of whether or not we could hang our TV without the entire 1920’s era plaster wall crumbling.) Well, I woke up the other day and decided that it was the “right day.” I pulled that removable wallpaper out of the box and got to work. Here is what you need and how to do it!
What you will need:
- Removable Wallpaper – I used Tempaper, as I had heard a lot of credible things about it. You can also find this at Target, Home Depot, and a slew of other retailers, but I can’t vouch for them personally.
- Wallpaper Smoother (not a squeegee, which has a pliable edge)
- Utility knife
- Measuring tape
- Screwdriver to remove any switch plates
Let’s Hang Some Wallpaper!
First things first – remember that walls and ceilings are rarely straight, so don’t use them as a guide. When you start hanging, you are going to want to leave a little overhang in the corner and the top of the wall so you don’t have to worry about this. Taking into account the width of your wallpaper and a little extra for overhang, lightly mark a straight, level line from top to bottom of the wall. This will be your guide as you hang your first strip.
Now, measure the height of the space you are wallpapering. Leaving about 3 inches extra, cut your first strip of wallpaper and get to work! Remember, the ceiling is probably not straight. Check this with your level. Don’t get frustrated on this first piece, it will be the trickiest since you are probably in a corner (and also because you have never done this before!). Peel off a couple feet of the wallpaper and start smoothing it onto the wall. The great thing about this wallpaper is that you can peel it off and re-stick it as you go if it isn’t quite right. Smooth out bubbles from the middle, outward with your smoothing tool. Full disclosure, my walls are textured and it worked better for me to use my hands. But the tool is helpful for getting in corners, and against molding.
Repeat this process for every strip of paper, overlapping it about 1/2 inch on the previous piece and being sure to continue to check that your strip is straight. As you encounter light switches or outlets, remove the cover and cut around them with your utility knife. Once all of your paper is hung, go back with your knife and trim off the excess at the ceiling, baseboards, door jams, etc., to give you those rewarding, crisp, straight lines.
Adding the Finishing Touches
You are almost done! The finishing touch, that is really going to make your job look professional, is to cover the switch plates before replacing them. This is a great place to use up those small scraps. Tightly pull and press the paper around the plate and use your scissors to cut off the excess. Slice and “X” where the openings are and fold the paper back through the holes. Cut off the excess, stick it down, and screw it back on.
That’s all it takes! Turn on some great music, put your hair up, and get to work. Your space is going to be totally transformed in just a couple of hours and I would love to see it! Have fun and don’t forget to show me your projects!
For other ‘big impact, small budget’ projects, check out my post on how to apply frosted window film to make your glass cabinets functional!