Wallpaper has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years. It adds color, texture and pattern to a room. Paper designs range from traditional, floral and historical to geometric, organic and
abstract, so there’s a print for every taste and style.
You can create a calm and soothing master bedroom with a subtle design in a soft hue. Or, paper an
accent wall in your living room for major impact. There are also design opportunities in unexpected
places: Paper the hallway ceiling, or jazz up a powder room with a striking damask print in a bright color.
Wallpaper can even transform featureless bookshelves into works of art.
My clients, young newlyweds, recently purchased their first home, a 60s-era ranch. The house had been updated and remodeled before they moved in, but still retained the original built-in cabinets in the living room. At one time, the two cabinets probably had a blonde oak finish, but have been painted numerous times since installation. In one of the cabinets, a shelf had been removed, leaving a big, open display area. The homeowners liked the contrast of the white built-ins against their purple walls, but realized too much white gets boring fast. To add some much-needed personality, they chose a big, bold, abstract floral pattern in grey and silver.
Here’s how I transformed their cabinets into a truly unique piece with just a little bit of wallpaper. You can use this technique to liven up your own cabinets, or use it on bookshelves, armoires or desk
1. Adding wallpaper to a cabinet is extremely similar to papering a wall. To start, gather the necessary tools:
Wide putty knife
2. Prep the wall or back of the cabinet by filling in any holes or cracks and sanding rough spots.
Seal the surface with primer to ensure good adhesion.
3. Cut wallpaper to fit the space, adding two inches to all sides. Lay the paper on a long table or work surface, pattern-side down. Apply an even coat of pre-mixed wallpaper paste to the back side with a paint roller.
4. Gently fold the strip of paper in half, without creasing the fold. This is called “booking,” and allows the paper to relax before hanging.
5. Line up the uncut edge of the paper along the underside of each shelf, with the shelf serving as your level. Because of the angles of this cabinet, I decided to hang the paper horizontally instead of vertically. I only needed one strip per section, except for the cabinet with the missing shelf, where I needed one and a half. If you’re using wallpaper that has a distinct print, like this one, make sure to carefully match the pattern between strips.
6. Even out any bubbles and wrinkles with the smoothing brush. Trim the excess paper at the sides
and bottom using a wide putty knife and utility knife. Change the blade on the utility knife often, as it dulls quickly. Wipe off any excess paste from the paper with a damp sponge.
7. Repeat the steps until the entire back of the cabinet is papered.
The final results are modern and dramatic, and the homeowners’ display items really stand out. In fact, they like the corner cabinets so much, they’re planning on removing the glass doors!
About the Author:
Wisconsin interior designer Merri Cvetan has been advising clients on home renovation and decor, including wallpaper styles, for many years. Merri’s professional tips, which she writes about for The
Home Depot, are designed to help homeowners who are interested in DIY projects. To research Home Depot’s large selection of wallpaper styles, you can click here.