If you’re tired of staring at the plain white walls in your apartment, but your landlord won’t let you paint, we have the ideal décor solution: removable wallpaper. Even if you own your home, removable wallpaper is still a design choice worth considering, especially if your tastes change often or you want the flexibility to update your space with the latest styles.
At a recent design show in New York City, I met Jennifer Matthews and Julia Au, sisters who invented a removable wallpaper called Tempaper. Founded in 2008, the company’s goal was to create an affordable product that wouldn’t intimidate customers or require a professional installer. As I drooled over their designs, Matthews and Au were happy to answer my questions.
What is removable wallpaper?
Removable wallpaper is an adhesive wall covering that can be repositioned or taken down at any time. You can use it as a temporary design fix or leave it on the wall permanently. Tempaper is self-adhesive, though some brands of removable wallpapers require water to activate the adhesive.
What’s the difference between removable wallpaper and traditional wallpaper?
Both are printed and sold in similar ways, but removable wallpaper is less messy to apply and easier to remove than traditional wallpaper. Instead of all the wetting and scraping you have to do to take off regular wallpaper, with temporary wallpaper, you just have to grab a corner and pull.
Temporary wallpaper can be more affordable than traditional wallpaper. Tempaper's highest-priced roll covers 56 to 60 square feet and sells for $125. That's in the same price range as many regular wallpapers, but the latter is usually installed by hired professionals who can charge hundreds of dollars per room, adding significantly to the cost of redecorating. Removable wallpaper is manageable for do-it-yourself projects, so there's no cost for installation.
What kinds of walls are ideal for removable wallpaper?
Tempaper's founders say you can hang removable wallpaper with confidence on smooth, primed, painted surfaces that have a satin or semi-gloss finish. The shinier the surface, the easier it is to reposition or remove the wallpaper. Removable wallpaper is not a good solution for matte or flat painted surfaces. Also, temporary wallpaper is out of the question if you have textured walls.
Can removable wallpaper damage paint or walls?
According to Matthews and Au, there’s a chance for wall damage if removable wallpaper is not applied properly. On surfaces with a flat finish, the adhesive can be absorbed by the paint, and some of it will peel off when you take down the wallpaper. That will not make you or your landlord happy.
What are the most popular styles, patterns, and colors for removable wallpaper?
Currently, floral and tropical prints are very popular at Tempaper, and the company says they're seeing animal prints trending as well. Cool colors, with varying shades of green, blue, and gray are in style.
I’m a home design geek. Where else can I put removable wallpaper to give my home a designer look?
Matthews and Au say that with removable wallpaper, you’re definitely not limited to walls. They suggest that you use the wallpaper on furniture, cabinets, headboards, or stair risers.
How do I apply temporary wallpaper?
The idea of peel and stick wallcovering is, well, appealing, but the installation is not completely effortless. It's a two-person job—one stationed at the top and one at the bottom. Because it’s easier to reposition it if you make a mistake, putting up temporary wallpaper can be easier than hanging traditional wallpaper. And it's great that you don’t need to buy any brushes or pastes, but get ready to do some prework before you apply the wallpaper.
Here are my pre-hanging hints to ensure an excellent result:
- First, draw a vertical line from the ceiling to the floor (in pencil, please!) and use it as a guide to make sure your wallpaper hangs straight.
- Don’t count on your crown moldings to be even—use a level, and pencil in a horizontal line to follow as you hang the paper at the top of the wall. And if you’re a first timer, don’t choose a stripe pattern, which can be very challenging to align. The last thing you want is a crooked stripe.
- Remember the old adage: Measure twice, cut once.
When you're ready to hang up the paper, follow the detailed instructions on Tempaper's site.
Where can I buy removable wallpaper?
If you like the idea of removable wallpaper, I discovered that you can buy it at a number of your favorite retailers. You can spend $250 for a chinoiserie wall mural at Anthropologie or $25 for a roll of palm leaf print peel and stick wallpaper on Amazon. Many of Tempaper’s elegant designs are available at Target for $125 a roll or less. Wherever you find your favorite design, removable wallpaper is a DIY product that can stimulate your imagination and expand your design horizons.