Sunday, 25 September 2011

wallpaper - a renters guide

What do you do if you rent and you love a bit of pattern on your walls? Is wallpaper out of the question for non home owners? The simple answer is 'no'... the slightly more complicated answer is 'well it depends on how much effort you want to put in' but there are many more wallpapering options available to renters than you might first think...

Wallpaper panels
One of my favourite ideas has to be to paper an MDF or plywood panel and either lean it against the wall, or affix with screws. The great advantage to the leaning panel is the ability to move it around to different rooms if you fancy a change. Or you could paper the other side in a completely different pattern or colour and flip it over. Perhaps a bright spring pattern on one side for during the day, and a glam metallic paper on the other side for an evenings entertaining?

Image source: Design Evolution

I also love this idea using scraps, samples or bits of old wallpaper for a more vintage look. You could use one colour scheme, purples for example, but play with patterns in different sizes and finishes, or go for a completely eclectic look as seen here. Next up on the effort scale, how about tacking a thin veneer of plywood to the whole wall, wallpapering as normal, then just remove the whole thing & fill in a few nail holes when you leave?

Image source: CraftZine

Temporary wallpaper
Temporary wallpaper is either completely removable, or the top layer (a vinyl) can be easily peeled off to leave the backing paper which can then be painted or papered over again. 

The best looking one I've found and the one with the best reviews, comes from Tempaper although you're going to have to pay for shipping from the USA on top of the cost of the paper. This one, is by all accounts completely removable and re-positionable.

Image Source: Apartment Therapy
Another US based company, Sherwin Williams makes papers with a peel-able top layer. I found a great blog post on the practicalities of using this below. I can't seem to find any temporary wallpaper options that are readily available in the UK though, so for us UK renters, this may work out to be a more expensive option.

Image Source: Oh Happy Day

Framed samples
This idea will only work if you're OK with putting up frames, but, they don't have to be glazed and if you use Command hooks or strips, there's no drilling required. For a coordinated look, use papers in similar shades and keep the frames all the same. Hang in a grid formation for formality. Ikeas Ribba white frames would be great for achieving this look. This treatment can be a very inexpensive option too, because you can simply use free samples of paper from your local DIY store. Many online retailers such as Cole & Son will also send out samples for the cost of the postage.

Image source: Design Elite Interiors

For a more eclectic style, use old frames from second hand shops, car boot sales or eBay. Frames like this look great with a real mix of pattern and colours and are a great way to display scraps of vintage paper too.  Personally, I like the mix of woods here, but you could also paint them all the same colour if you like.

Image source: Cavern Home

Fake it
It's possible to give the illusion of wallpaper without actually using any. Decals have become ever more sophisticated of late and there's a dizzying array of patterns and motifs available. They are peel-able and so shouldn't damage the walls underneath. My favourite decal producer, Blik make square tiles of pattern that mimic wallpaper when mounted together. They are removable and re-positionable making them far easier to put up than wallpaper. They manufacture of lots of patterned wall features as well as cut outs for sticking to painted walls. Although Blik are an American company their products are available at stores such as Urban Outfitters & Heals.

Image source: Blik

Stenciling used to be a dirty word, but I believe as long as you pick a sophisticated pattern and do it well, it can look great. The book 'Stencil 101 Decor' contains contemporary, grown up patterns (the hounds tooth on the cover is divine) and not a whiff of naff changing rooms era stencils in sight. When you leave your rental property, a couple of coats of good quality paint will return the wall to it's original state.

Image source: Amazon UK

Go for it
So, if you're feeling brave and can deal with removing the paper if required, why not paper a little bit of the room? An alcove is a great place for some feature paper, and you can get away with needing only a roll or two so it's not very expensive. As alcoves aren't very big, you can also get away with much bolder patterns & colours that may prove too much when used on a larger area. I do love the idea shown below, where the wall has been painted the same shade as the paper (Dulux's Colour Match service, available from their Decorator Centres is really useful for this) and you don't even have to pattern match because one drop in the middle of the alcove is all that's used. It won't work with every design of paper though, so choose carefully.

Image source: House To Home

Really go for it
If an alcove or a panel doesn't do it for you. There's no reason why you can't just go for it all over. Although I'd only recommend this if you know you're going to be staying a while. It takes a lot of work to paper a whole wall or a whole room and if your landlord wants it taken down when you go, that's also a lot of work. If you have your heart set on an amazing wall of pattern, maybe see if you & your landlord can agree on a paper and agree on the fact that it can stay after you go. Best to get these things in writing of course. In my opinion I would also say that it's best to stick to a unisex pattern if you're going to propose this option, after all, a very girly pattern is going to rule out a lot of potential future tenants if they don't like it. My favourite pattern for this purpose is Cole & Sons 'Luna' it comes in bold black & gold too.

Image source: JB Interiors

Don't put it on the walls
Who says you have to paper the walls? It's very effective used on furniture too. I love the treatment on this bookcase. If you click the Apartment Therapy link it comes with full instructions.

Image source: Apartment Therapy

For a bigger area of pattern, and if the wardrobe in your bedroom is suitable, consider using paper on the door panels, or even on the inside of the wardrobe. If you can't paper your furniture, or if it doesn't belong to you, covering a screen (or in this case, up-cycled shutters) is a great way to add some pattern to a room. For a more dramatic effect, the picture below shows an MDF hinged screen covered in wallpaper, giving the impact of a papered wall without the hassle. You could even paper opposite sides with different patterns or colorways to change your room in an instant, plus, when you're bored with it you can strip off the paper, give the screen a light sand and re-paper with your new favourite design.

Image source: Wayfaring Magnolia

Image source: Furniture In Fashion

The great advantage with the plywood panels and the papered screens or furniture, is that they are yours, and the effort and expense of making them look great will not be lost when you move, because you take them with you.

So there you have it. Wallpapering for renters. I think there's so much scope for creativity and innovation when you're forced to think outside the box. I for one am going to be putting some of these ideas to the test in my flat.

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