Wallpaper is set to make a big appearance in 2024 as we move away from the minimalist interiors of recent years. With a change in mindset that provoked trends such as bookshelf wealth, we’re seeking homes that are comforting and reflect our personality.
I’ve always been an advocate of wallpaper. Apart from hiding a multitude of sins in my old property with imperfect walls, it’s one way of adding colour, pattern and texture to your interior scheme. However, there’s more to using wallpaper than hanging it wall to wall.
Here we get creative and embrace 7 alternative ways to use wallpaper in our homes in 2024, including hanging it in one room where you probably thought wallpaper was banished. We've also got advice on 5 mistakes to avoid when hanging wallpaper — and how to do it right.
1. Turn a bedside table into a feature
To keep my bedside tables free from watermarks and unsightly tea and coffee cup rings, I’ve always had a piece of glass cut to fit the top. For safety reasons, the edge is smooth to avoid any nasty mishaps.
The glass is a protective layer and can easily be wiped clean, leaving the wood beneath free from stains. And just as the glass protects the wood, it can also preserve wallpaper. I use wallpaper I already own, but you could pick up a remnant to save paying full price for a new roll of wallpaper that will mostly go unused.
Rather than using your kitchen scissors to cut the wallpaper, I always recommend using the best tool. These QualConnect Wallpaper scissors ($12, Amazon) are designed to cut wallpaper and are suitable if left or right-handed.
2. Go above and beyond to the fifth wall
Why not go off the wall and onto the ceiling? If you aim to create a showstopping look, you can’t go far wrong with a papered ceiling. Just ensure your ceiling is smooth before you start, as any existing cracks can cause wallpaper to buckle if they develop further. Wall-papering a popcorn ceiling is also a no-go area, as the surface is too bumpy.
However, we’d recommend calling in a professional decorator for this task unless you're proficient at hanging wallpaper or you’re decorating a small space, such as a laundry room or WC. It’s challenging to hang wallpaper on a ceiling as your body is positioned awkwardly, with your neck craned backwards. Achieving a perfect pattern match will be tricky.
This is one creative way to hang wallpaper that will be best received in bedrooms or where you tend to lounge. It can also look dramatic in a room with a sloping ceiling, where more paper will be visible without looking up.
A photo posted by on
3. Wallpaper stair risers
Add a funky vibe to your hallway and wallpaper your stair risers. It’s a super-easy DIY project that can be completed over a weekend, and you don’t need to be a wall-papering pro to do it. Stairs are often an afterthought and left as bare wooden treads or carpeted, but with some creativity, they can be be taken up a level to transform an in-between space.
Your stairway may be wider than a standard wallpaper roll, so if you want to avoid a join, choose a paper that can be used sideways on. The alternative is to opt for self-adhesive stair decals that you can order online. The Midnight Charcoal Peel and Stick Stair stripe Decal ($19, Home Depot) will add a touch of traditional to your stairway.
Other options are to mix and match wallpapers so that each stair riser is covered with a different color and pattern. If this is too bold, why not alternate the design using two different papers. And don’t forget there’s the option of painting the stair treads to complement your wallpaper choice.
A photo posted by on
4. Add pattern to built-in closets
Fitted closets offer great functionality as they provide a high level of storage that goes right up to the ceiling. However, they can be a bit bland in visual appeal. Simply adding wallpaper to the door fronts can help the storage blend into the rest of the room and appear like a wall, or the whole room can be spiced up with a dramatic pattern that pops.
Depending on the style of your closet, paper the whole door front, or if they have a framed design, like a shaker-style door, paper the inset area. However, for it to work, the surface must be flat. The same can be done on a standard closet, whether fitted or not.
5. Wallpaper the back of a cabinet
If you favor a simple and elegant interior but want to add a splash of pattern and texture without going all-out, wallpapering the back of a cabinet can add an instant impact. It works within multiple rooms in the house, kitchens, living areas and studies. Wherever you have cabinets with shelving it can add a new visual appeal, and it’s one budget way to upgrade your kitchen cabinets without buying new.
Although it’s not a tricky task as you’ll be papering on a flat surface, it is easier to apply if all the shelves can be removed as you’ll have more space to work and won’t be reaching into awkward corners.
6. Frame it
Create a work of art with wallpaper in a frame. Mix it up and display it with other artwork, or make a bold statement and let it take center stage. Go big or small, depending on what your chosen print will allow. Larger designs can look like a complete artwork, such as Chinoiserie styles. Try the Colorful Chinosierie Floral Wallpaper Mural, available in three colorways ($35, Wallmur).
For a different look create a montage with a mix of wallpapers, creating a unique piece of art.
7. Be bold in the bathroom
Wallpaper in the bathroom, where moisture, heat and mold abound might not seem like a sensible choice, but the key is choosing a wallpaper that is splash-proof and washable.
With these considerations in mind, bathroom manufacturer Duravit, teamed up with wallpaper specialist Graham & Brown to create a range of bathroom wallpaper designs. Captured here is Florenzia Dusk Wallpaper ($126 per roll, Graham & Brown). The image above shows how wallpaper is hung in a small area, above a wash basin.
If you’re concerned about using wallpaper in a bathroom, make sure the room is well-ventilated to keep the moisture level under control and that the wallpaper isn’t hung in areas that will be regularly splashed.
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Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.
As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.