The entire crux of this project hinged on the fact that I did not want to spend a lot of money on fancy wallpaper that I might possibly ruin since I had never installed wallpaper before. I scoured every source I could think of to come up with an attractive and affordable option for wallpaper in my tiny dining room. I left no wallpaper site unturned until I finally found the right option for me. That brings me to step one.
1. G A T H E R Y O U R S U P P L I E S.
I used: Paper • Glue • Scissors • Ruler • Measuring Tape • Cutting Mat • Exacto Knife
Effectively, it really is as simple as picking out a paper or fabric, slathering the walls with cornstarch paste and then cutting the paper to size. Don’t you dare let yourself be intimidated by a project like this. The absolute hardest part is settling on the paper.
I design a lot of invitations and use a lot of decorative, handmade papers that are sold by the sheet. During one particular journey down that rabbit hole, I found just the right paper I had been looking for, called the Blotto Print Lotka. It had color, texture and an earthy pattern that just got me. I immediately fell in love with the imperfect dye pattern. These sheets are 20×30 and I used about 20 which made this a $100 project. I can get behind that price point.
My absolute favorite source is Paper Mojo. I’m not kidding about this rabbit hole. There are so many options for paper and an endless list of possible uses. This is actually the second time I’ve used their paper to wallpaper. I have a gorgeous, subtle marble paper in my entry way.
In a further effort to save money since I didn’t know if I would even like the outcome, I made my own wallpaper paste. It’s simple, I promise.
I made my own cornstarch paste from some recipes I googled around for. Here’s the basic cornstarch recipe I used.
- Pour 2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and water in small bowl until powder is dissolved.
- Gradually whisk cornstarch into boiling water until they’re well blended.
- Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens.
- Let it cool before use. Mixture will keep for a week covered in the fridge.
I’ve made a few batches of this by now and the consistency is key. One batch came out lumpy and it still worked on the wall, but the application is just easier if you get the right smooth jelly/paste combo.
2. T R I M P A P E R T O S I Z E
I worked on this one sheet at a time. Pick your starting point, I chose the bottom left side of the wall since it started on a chair rail and I wanted those pieces to be the most intentional. The paper I chose was handmade and had a deckled edge but I wanted a crisp, clean line so I had to trim the bottom and left side of each sheet. I cut it with a rule, exacto and cutting mat before putting any paste on the wall.
3. S L A T H E R W A L L S W I T H P A S T E
So I didn’t get a great photo of this. All I did was grab a paint brush and start “painting” the walls with the paste on enough area for one sheet of paper. I coated it enough so that it would saturate the paper a bit to make a good connection to the wall. I kept it all underneath the paper but would brush the mixture over the edges to make sure they didn’t peel up. It doesn’t leave any residue on the top once dried and you can’t tell what spots had it on top or not.
4. A P P L Y P A P E R
Getting into the flow can be a little slow going at first, it usually is for me. With your first piece ready and the paste covering the wall, line up the paper straight on the edge and lay it on the wall pushing the air bubbles out as you go. I found this process really forgiving in that I could pull the paper back if it wasn’t just right and reset it or pull half back to get some stubborn air bubbles out. I’ve seen others use book pages, wrapping paper or fabric. Get creative!
I let the paper overlap and didn’t bother cropping the edges of the paper that got covered up. The paper was thick enough that it didn’t crunch or wrinkle, something to consider when picking out the paper. This specific pattern hides the overlap incredibly well. For the top pieces I would actually measure out the exact size and cut it before putting it on the wall. In a few places, it was better to go just over the edge, let the paper and paste dry completely and then trim it off with a blade. I tried it at first while it was wet and it ripped up the paper like crazy.
This shot shows three pieces of paper and how the seams look up close. This pattern specifically required some editing and careful selection. I wanted the pattern to look like it was a wall paper and not a patchwork so I made sure to line up the patterns as best I could so the seems wouldn’t be so obvious.
5. P O P A B O T T L E + P A T Y O U R S E L F O N T H E B A C K
A quick recap, here’s a good ol’ before photo and a bonus before, before photo.
It’s been awhile since I finished the walls and can say it’s held up incredibly well. I am, however, itching for change in a few other ways in here. Surprise, surprise. I’m swapping out the dining chairs and crossing my fingers to stumble onto a great new table.
I cannot recommend a project like this enough for an affordable impact. I’ve actually ran out of smooth walls in my house to wallpaper, the rest are textured so I resort to paint and making my own patterns on those walls.