How to Create a Feature Wall

Sometimes a wall needs a makeover. Whether you've been living in your home together for years or you just moved into a rental place, after you tie the knot, it's time for a refresh or personalization to celebrate this new chapter of your lives! With a place that you don't own, options are pretty limited. Since remodeling or painting is out of the question if you're on a small budget or is not allowed, enter peel and stick wallpaper! The magical design material of everyone's dreams! Next up in our Happily Ever Home, a special DIY home series that is focused on modest & midsize home styling projects for newlyweds who are renters or first-time home owner, our editor-in-chief, Chelsea, is here to share how easy it is to transform a room with a feature wall using peel and stick wallpaper!

Years and years ago, there was a one bedroom apartment in Chesapeake. It was small and, well, super cozy, but it was new, and I was the very first person to move into that apartment ever... meaning it was very builder beige. Like literally all builder beige. All walls, all the time.

Eight years ago, the only way I could think of to make that apartment a home was to create a painted feature wall. After pleading with the apartment manager (okay, not too much pleading since I had become good friends with her), I got permission to paint in my apartment as long as I repainted it back to the original beige when we moved out. So for four years, I had a beautiful soft evergreen feature wall in my living room that made it feel like home every time we walked in the front door.

When I moved out, I enlisted some help repainting that wall back to the original. It was bittersweet for the memories, but it took a lot more time than I remember! Fast forward to last year when I learned about peel and stick wallpaper. I fell in love. It's literally the perfect way to personalize a home without the permanence of paint. And when you're ready to change it up, you just peel it off with no residue behind or paint chipping off. Hope this one inspires you!

Peel and stick wallpaper for easy home upgrade
How to transform builder basic walls with wallpaper

How to Transform A Room with Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Difficulty Level: Easy-Medium
Color Inspiration: Indigo and Gray
Time Investment: 2 Hours

• Custom peel and stick wallpaper (we used a pattern called Daffodil Chinoise in a custom color)
Utility knife
Wallpaper smoother
Cutting mat
• 70% rubbing/Isopropyl alcohol
• Lint-free cloths

Measure the width of your wall in inches, and add a couple of inches to account for wall variations. Then, simply divide that number by what the wallpaper company offers to determine how many widths you will need. It's always recommended to round up to the next whole number. For example, if you need 3.2 lengths, order 4 panels.

We used the Etsy shop, Wallpaperie, that offers 24" wide wallpaper panels. Our feature wall is 5 foot in height, and the wall area is 10.3 feet in width, so we ordered 6 rolls of wallpaper.

Materials for a DIY peel and stick wallpaper wall

1. Analyze your painted wall situation as this will affect your how your peel and stick wallpaper will adhere. Your wall should be smooth and solid in color. Be sure to also refer to your peel and stick wallpaper provider's instructions.

- If you have FRESH PAINT, you will need to wait at least 4 weeks for your paint to cure before you can apply any kind of wallpaper. Applying before this can affect the wallpaper adhesion... and that would be some money wasted!

- If you have WASHABLE OR SCRUBBABLE PAINT, you will need to prime your walls with a vinyl prep primer and wait at least 4 weeks to cure before doing any wallpapering. Otherwise, you'll have a hard time getting things to stick on anti-stick paint!

- If you have LOW/ZERO VOC PAINT (aka odor or gases), refer to your paint manufacturer about peel and stick wallpaper installation. Most recommend just wiping down your wall with 70% rubbing alcohol to help take away the elements that interfere with adhesion. But if unsure, prime your walls with a vinyl prep primer and wait at least 4 weeks to cure before doing any wallpapering.

How to transform your new home with peel and stick wallpaper

2. Prepare your wallpaper and make sure that the top of the panel is on the outside of the roll. You will apply wallpaper to your wall from top to bottom!

3. Start at the top left edge of your wall. This is especially important for patterns and a smooth transition to each panel.

How to hang peel and stick wallpaper for your apartment or house

4. Taking your first panel, peel a few inches of the wallpaper backing from the top of the roll. Fold down the backing and crease it so it doesn't roll up against the adhesive. Avoid unrolling the entire wallpaper roll as you will want it coiled to support the unpeeling as you go along. Align the top of the wallpaper with the ceiling and ensure it's straight and even on your wall. (Ask your partner to double check the straightness of the panel! Thankfully the peel and stick wallpaper we are using is repositionable to help with this!)

5. Once the panel gets the thumbs up on being ready to go, slowly peel the backing down 10 inches at a time while smoothing the wallpaper onto the wall from the center to the edges. Use your wallpaper smoother to eliminate any bubbles by pushing the bubbles to the edge. Be gentle as to not scratch your paper! Do not cut or trim your panel at this time.

Tips for using modern peel and stick wallpaper
Beautiful peel and stick wallpaper for your new home or apartment
Easy way to use peel and stick wallpaper

6. For your second wallpaper panel, apply to the right side of your first panel and be sure it overlaps on the first panel by approximately 3/4 of an inch to help match up your pattern design. This overlap will not be trimmed, so carefully align the panel patterns together.

QUICK TIP: If your home's builders gave you a crooked wall like ours did, line up your patterns as best as you can. You may need to put your wallpaper panel above your wall's trim or ceiling just so it aligns properly. The key thing is aligning the pattern for a seamless design!

Beautiful modern peel and stick wallpaper for a custom feature wall

7. Repeat the above step for the rest of your panels.

7b. If you have a small patch of wall left that requires a smaller piece of wallpaper, you will need to cut down your last panel to a manageable size. To account for crooked walls, add 2" to what you will need for this last panel. Using a T-square or a yardstick, a cutting mat, and a utility knife, carefully cut down your panel. Repeat the above steps with this panel.

Tips for how to use peel and stick wallpaper in tricky small corners
Easy home DIY projects for Virginia couples

8. After successfully applying all of your wallpaper panels, use your utility knife to carefully trim the bottoms (and tops if needed) of your panels as well as the final panel's right edge.

Tools for applying peel and stick wallpaper

QUICK TIP: To get a straight line cut, use your wallpaper smoother as a firm guide for trimming the excess.

9. Do one final wallpaper smoothing and take a step back to look at your beautiful new wall!

Modern indigo chinoise peel and stick wallpaper for a beautiful bedroom

Post-Thoughts, Challenges, and Real Talk About the Fancy Photos

For someone who cannot hang anything straight even with a yardstick, t-square, level, or any straight-edged tool and add the fact that whoever the builder was also apparently doesn't do straight edges anywhere in our house, wallpapering has to be my most challenging project to date. But the peel and stick repositionable wallpaper type made transforming a wall so much easier to tackle and will literally be the only way I wallpaper again. I will be using our leftover wallpaper for some artwork around the house and am already looking for other things to wallpaper!

And for some real talk, the styled home photos look pretty and fancy, huh? Well, funny story. This is actually my dining room, not a bedroom though it's styled as such. What you can't see is that the dining room currently has a gorgeous (albeit lonely) $70 Crate and Barrel table I bought off of Facebook Marketplace, an outdated chandelier light, and no chairs. Because #budget. We'll get there eventually! (At least before Thanksgiving when loved ones come over. ha!)

The black dresser is actually an upcycled IKEA dresser (that I originally bought for $50) that a friend made into a custom cat cubby/food station for our cat room (hence why my kitty Pickles Barrington is hanging out near it, and yes, we definitely have a cat room). The rest of the tabletop decor was bought from Target and Michael's clearance sections over the years. This styled setup cost around $150, so while pretty and fancy (mission accomplished!), I encourage you to be selective about the decor pieces you bring into your home, build onto your curated collection over time, and always be on the lookout for used furniture (earth- and budget-friendly)!

- Chelsea

Happily Ever Home is Tidewater and Tulle's DIY home series that is focused on modest & midsize home styling projects for newlyweds who are renters or first-time home owners. Neither of those? We love you, too, and hope you get inspired for your own "making a house a home" projects!

House projects with a kitty

Photography, Tutorial, and Design: Chelsea LaVere | Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Wallpaperie via Etsy

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