4 Clever Wallpaper Ideas

preparing wallpaper

Wallpaper isn’t just for walls. Try these ideas for a low-cost, high-impact decor statement with wallpaper.


I have a very distinct memory of my parents installing some ugly ’80s flowered wallpaper in their bedroom in my childhood home.

It was a messy process: soak the paper, then put it straight on the wall (you really only had one chance) and then glue it to the wall with a squeegee so you wouldn’t have bubbles.

I haven’t seen wallpaper being installed in a very long time, but I hope things are a little less messy than what my memory tells me. And the great thing with contemporary wallpapers is that there’s a pattern and style for everyone–it’s not just cheesy flower patterns anymore. It’s definitely become an un-traditional decor element.

And here’s another thing: you don’t have to use wallpaper in the traditional way, either. Don’t want to commit to a full room of wallpaper? Looking for something a bit more funky or creative? Here are a few ideas that might catch your attention.

1. Paper the back of your cabinets

A low-key, low-visibility way to use wallpaper is to cover the back of your kitchen cabinets. It’s a smaller investment and you can experiment with bolder pattern and color choices.

Eclectic Kitchen by Vancouver Interior Designers & Decorators The Cross Interior Design

If you have open cabinets, it’s definitely a good way to add design flair to your kitchen without overwhelming the room; if you have doors on your cabinets, well, it’ll be your little secret that you enjoy every time you get your dishes out. It also works well if you have glass door cabinets!

2. Frame it like a painting

Love a wallpaper pattern but it’s just too bold for an entire wall or an entire room? Try framing it like a piece of art.

Eclectic Spaces

This is a great, low-cost way to add beautiful patterns and colors to your walls without the price of actual artwork. Frame it with wood molding painted in the same color as your wall for a seamless look, or use a contrasting color for more oomph.

No matter how you frame it, this particular idea is really great for using wallpaper leftovers and end-of-roll sales!

3. Wrap it around your fireplace

If you have a fireplace (lucky you!) and want to add some visual interest, you can also consider putting wallpaper around it. It’s a great to bring special attention to this focus point of the living room.

Transitional Living Room by Arlington Interior Designers & Decorators liza ryner design

I find this technique especially beautiful for fireplaces with ordinary wall around them. (If you have a brick wall, keep it that way though!) You can play around with monochromatic patterns that match your paint, or be bolder and use something totally contrasting.

4. Slap it on a door

Here’s an interesting way to do something unexpected and funky: adding wallpaper to a door (instead of the wall around it). It can be used to denote the kind of room, or just for visual interest. And it doesn’t have to be a room door either–try using it on closet doors too!

Eclectic Spaces

You can be conservative or funky, match with the color of the walls or get something completely different and unexpected.

Your wallpaper is everywhere

These ideas are the typical “think outside the box” techniques, but it’s nice to see them in action. Maybe it inspires a few wallpapered surfaces in your home.

So what are you waiting for? Find a wallpaper you like, find an interesting and unexpected place to use it, and make a beautiful decor statement with a low-cost, high-impact item.

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