Adventures in Wallpapering
I love the look of vintage wallpaper, so when we moved into our new home, I decided I was going to try it out on some accent walls. I've never wallpapered anything in my life prior to this, so of course since I'm an over-achiever, I decided to go ahead and do four different walls with four different types of wallpaper. I watched countless YouTube videos and read lots of blogs before starting and, I have to admit, I was pretty terrified to put that first piece of wallpaper on. But let me start here, with a few takeaways from my experience, in case you're thinking of doing some wallpapering yourself:
Wallpaper is expensive
Wallpaper is time consuming
Wallpapering is a perfect activity for detail oriented neat-freaks
What I'm about to tell you is not the 'right' way to do wallpaper. After doing all of my internet research, I summed it up as "blah blah blah, there's too many steps here", so I sort of winged it. And guess what? The wallpaper all looks acceptable and it's all still stuck to the walls, so I may be on to something.
If none of the above are deal-breakers for you and you're still here - hang on, it's time for a wild ride into the world of wallpaper.
I'm going to break my wallpapering experience down into each room I did, from first to last (not the band that Skrillex used to front). First, let me show you the materials I used, in addition to the paper itself:
All of the tools above are pretty much non-negotiables (except for the adhesive, if you're using peel and stick wallpaper, but I'll get to that). You'll need a sharp box cutter - trust me, I tried to use an old blade at first and it was a mess, scissors and/or a handy gift wrap cutter, and a wallpaper squeegee thing (v v v important). I actually bought a wallpapering tool kit on Amazon for $7.99 but chose to buy an additional box cutter that was a bit more sturdy. Secondly, the adhesive. This is basically just glue (almost like Mod Podge), but it makes life very easy when using traditional wallpaper and allows you to skip the step of pasting the paper/soaking pre-pasted paper in water. I used this one gallon for all of my wallpapering and I still have a lot leftover, so you definitely don't need much.
All right...room #1 - the She-Shed
You may have noticed the wallpaper in my previous blog and thought, "wow, that's cool" (and if you didn't think that, why are you even reading this post?). This was the first wall I wallpapered and I chose to do it first because it was a pretty straightforward wall (minimal outlets/light switches, no weird shaped walls, no doorways), and it's 'my' room so there was less pressure if I messed up.
First thing's first - measure your wall. I am literally the worst at math - my husband has a degree in economics so I let him handle that stuff, so if I'm telling you that you can do this measurement, believe me. Measure it vertically and horizontally, then add a few extra inches of length for overlap (you can trim it off later). The paper I used for this room was from Anthropologie and is $78 a roll. I told you wallpaper is expensive (if you want to buy from Anthro, they have housewares sales every once in a while, so I got this at 40% off).
I needed two rolls for this wall - it was about 8 feet high by 100 inches in length. The paper is 27" wide and 27 feet long, so I knew I'd need to cut strips of paper that were about 96" in length and would need about four strips to cover the length of the wall. Since that's about 32 feet in length, I bought two rolls and have some left over.
One thing to note - when in doubt, buy extra wallpaper. Especially when there is a pattern like this that needs to match up, you're going to need to cut the strips with some extra length. For instance, even though the walls were 96" high, I cut each strip to about 104" to make sure I could match the patterns evenly.
After the strips are cut, you can start to wallpaper. I 'painted' adhesive on to the wall, the width of one strip at a time. You only need a light layer of adhesive or else it'll get mushy and weird.
Start in a corner of the wall - don't start in the middle! Stick the paper to the wall and smooth it out with your hand as you paste the strip fully on to the wall. Also, use the squeegee to smooth out bubbles as you work - don't wait until you have the entire strip on the wall to start smoothing out bubbles. If you have minor bubbling, it'll probably go away once the paper dries, but try to get the wallpaper as smooth and flush to the wall as you possibly can.
Wallpapering around outlets/light switches: This is definitely something that terrified me. This wall had only one outlet on it, so it was a great way to practice. The way I did this was wallpapered over the outlet (as if it was not there) and then used the straight edge of the squeegee as a guide around the perimeter of the outlet to cut the wallpaper around it (with the box cutter). Once you've got the outlet exposed again, squeegee the paper to make sure it's flush around the outlet.
One final thing to note about this wall (or any wall): make sure you match up the patterns!! It may take buying an extra roll of paper or being creative with cutting a little strip for the top of side of a wall to make it work, but it's a must.
Room #2: The Breakfast Nook
This was another fairly straightforward wall, but this time with the added challenge of cutting around our mini split AC/heater. If you've got something like this, try to treat it like a giant light switch. I brought the paper slightly overlapping on to the mini split (so that the pattern was consistent on the wall) and then used the straight edge of the squeegee and the box cutter to cut the paper around the unit.
Room #3: The Half Bath
(the second picture is before I painted)
This was the first bathroom I did, and the first room that was more than just an accent wall. This was also the first time I used peel and stick wallpaper. TBH, I didn't realize it was peel and stick until I received it (because apparently I don't read item descriptions), so it was a bit of a curve ball.
I found that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with peel and stick paper. The pros are that, if you mess up, you can easily remove it and re-stick it (more on that in a moment) and that it's very easy to squeegee out the bubbles in it when you're applying.
The cons are that it's super expensive, you can't apply it as easily in sections as the adhesive wallpaper (because it's basically a giant sticker), and it's tough to cut because of the type of paper.
All in all, I'd probably choose peel and stick for an accent wall but would pick pasted (traditional) wallpaper for an entire room because of the latter's flexibility and (slightly) more budget-friendly pricing.
Anyhow, this paper also came from Anthro. Before ordering the paper, I, of course, measured this room and thought I had enough paper. However, due to the pattern repeat and having to match it up, I ran out. My first thought was "oh crap, I'm half way done with this room and I've run out of paper. Guess I'll have to order more." But then, I realized that it was $148 a roll (I originally bought it on sale) and immediately decided to figure something else out.
SO, I ended up wallpapering two of the walls in this bathroom and then painting the remaining walls (and the ceiling) with some extra paint I had from other projects, and honestly, I really like how it turned out!
The beauty of the peel and stick wallpaper with this mishap is that, I realized I'd run out of paper mid-way through a wall. But, I just peeled it off and re-used it for the second (smaller) wall in this bathroom and, voila, I didn't waste paper, didn't mess up any walls, and didn't have to purchase more wallpaper. Word to the wise - if you're hesitant about wallpapering and don't mind paying a bit extra, buy peel and stick until you build your confidence!
Room #4: The Full Bath
Lordy, this was the bane of my existence. I am so glad I did this room last because it would've dissuaded me from ever wallpapering again if I did it first. The outlets and weird wall shapes (around the window and sink) were such a pain. It was pre-pasted wallpaper so I used adhesive for this one, and the same methodology as the first two accent walls. I ended up painting about half of the bathroom because I didn't want the paper to get wonky from the shower steam down the line, but wallpapering two walls seemed to turn out well. My work is far from perfect in this bathroom, but it's really only noticeable if you're looking closely, and I also am planning on putting two 16x20 art prints on the narrow wall to the right of the window to cover up a couple weird areas where I had to piece the paper together.
All in all, it was a pretty successful venture. I plan on going back through the rooms to repair any bubbles in the paper (especially in the first room, they are noticeable), so I'll post a quick tutorial video when I do that. But I definitely plan on taking a break from wallpapering for the time being, it's exhausting and tedious but, in my opinion, certainly worth the end result!