How to Design Custom Wallpaper From a Pattern You Love

My dear friend, Sam Klein of Shop Whurl, recently designed her own wallpaper based on a vintage dress she loved. As she was telling me all about her project, I immediately interrupted her to beg her to share it with you here on the blog. I knew you’d be super inspired by her idea!

Wallpaper is such a personal choice and a big commitment. I love the idea of a totally custom option when nothing else feels right for a space! With that said, I will hand the mic to Sam and let her tell you all about her big project!

“After buying a house two years ago, I’ve moved slowly through each room to try and make them feel like my own. The dining room is definitely one of the last to be fixed up, partially because it felt easy to ignore. We have a table in our kitchen nook, so why not just throw an extra couch and some art in the dining room and call it a day? Two years later, my husband and I decided it was time to get our dining room in order! I started figuring out where the table would go, our rug, credenza, plants, etc., but I knew something was missing. I really wanted to put wallpaper on one of our curved walls and I knew it had to be a showstopper.

As an obsessive vintage shopper (I run the marketplace vintage app Whurl), I started scouring the depths of the Internet to find the right one. I ended up finding a gorgeous pink Mary Blair-esque wallpaper for my bedroom, but nothing quite right for the dining room. I asked around to some of my designer friends about custom making my own and turns out it’s much easier than I thought. Pretty quickly I decided I wanted to replicate a print on one of my vintage dresses. After picking the lucky winner from my closet, I hired a friend to create a high-res vector image of the pattern repeat.

She scanned the dress print and was able to get me a beautiful and clean image in days. I then uploaded my design to Spoonflower (there are other options out there if you research, this is just who I went with) and ordered a sample for less than $20 of two different sizes. It’s a pretty big commitment, so I wanted to make sure the scale was right.

The next step was measuring the height and width of my wall exactly. Not too hard except for the fact that I had to decide where I wanted the wallpaper to stop since our ceiling is curved. After picking the size and doing all my measurements, I ordered my wallpaper and had it in under two weeks. Since the wallpaper shows up in segments that need to be aligned perfectly, I decided not to tempt fate and hired a professional to install it. Absolutely no regrets there because it looks flawless!”

Thank you so much for sharing, Sam! I’m so inspired by this and will definitely be using this method at some point in the future! xx – Elsie

Credits//Author and Photography: Sam Klein.
  • This is such a cute and unique idea! I was so pleased to hear that custom making your own wallpaper is easier than you thought. There have been so many times where I would see a pattern I love whether it be on a piece of clothing or something else and wished I could use that pattern for another project. Like you said, wallpaper is a big commitment, but I just might take that leap for one of my rooms, especially seeing how beautiful yours turned out! 🙂

  • Such a great idea! Thanks for this post! Also, please feature the rest of Sam’s home if she’s up for it. I’m dying to see more! 🙂

  • The wall looks gorgeous.
    But I’m sorry if I missed this: who and how created the initial print of the dress to be later converted into vector image? This sounds like a difficult task, if, for instance, you had to draw it by hand yourself; right now it sounds as if you had a print just lying around 🙂
    Of course, the part of having a friend to create a vector image, is not very „tutorial” as well, but I assume this can be googled.

      • Could you explain and make a tutorial about how to create a high-res vector image of the pattern repeat? This sounds very mysterious to me.
        Thanks 🙏

    • It’s always possible! I think in this case since she is using a vintage dress and she made this paper for personal use (not selling it or anything) that is highly unlikely.

      xx

  • I LOVE the idea, but I agree with others that the task of creating the original vector seems quite daunting, not to mention figuring out where the pattern repeat actually is. There is a Rifle Paper Co wrapping sheet that I have been wishing they would offer as a wallpaper option for ever, seeing as that probably isn’t going to happen I would love to see a more in depth tutorial of the whole process.

  • I think this is a great idea, but I think it should be stressed that even fabric design is covered by intellectual property laws, so copying directly could be infringing on someone’s trademarks and copyrights.

    • You are correct! That said, I do think there is a big distinction between using a vintage pattern that isn’t available in wallpaper at all and ripping off a product just to save money. It’s super important to note that she made this for her own home- she is not selling it.

      In the context of what Sam has done here I think the artist would most likely be honored. Kind of like when people get tattoos of art or interpret art they admire in other ways.

      • Also maybe worth mentioning that lots of artists do not appreciate it when people get tattoos of their work without asking first – and some prefer to be paid for that usage, which is totally fair since you’re making a copy of their art to enjoy for the rest of your life.

    • It really depends on the age of the dress and the pattern. You can buy a vintage Marimekko pattern and I guarantee they still own that copyright and probably would not be happy. Research public domain laws and the age of your dress before doing something like this. Even for personal use, it’s technically still an illegal copy (and against spoonflower’s terms), though obviously you’re probably not going to get caught.

      A better idea might be to hire a designer to make a similarly-inspired pattern for you! I do that kind of work and it’s actually almost easier to make an original pattern than to scan-vectorize-tweak an old one. There are also TONS of vintage-inspired patterns on spoonflower already, and then you know you’re supporting the artist directly.

  • Gorgeous pattern! Love how it really brings that room to life with color and whimsy! I have to say though, as a textile and surface pattern designer, creating a vectorized pattern of a vintage design is not an easy task! It is standard for those of us in the industry, and I assume that the friend she hired to create the pattern for her was a surface pattern designer or in a closely related field. While it would be easy enough for me or another professional, it’s not really something someone with no surface pattern design experience/software could do on their own. Also, there is somewhat of an issue of copyright, if the spoon flower print was being used for anything other than personal use. For example I know spoonflower has an online store where anyone can buy yardage/wallpaper of other users’ prints- unless the vintage document is from 1923 or before (and therefore in the public domain), this potentially violates copyright. Not to put a damper on this beautiful post and the awesome wallpaper Sam created, but it’s not a realistic tutorial.

  • Heyy, how did you do that. You have wallpaper and sweater in the same pattern. his is such a cute and unique idea! I was so pleased to hear that custom making your own wallpaper is easier than you thought. There have been so many times where I would see a pattern I love whether it be on a piece of clothing or something else and wished I could use that pattern for another project.

  • I also use Spoonflower 🙂 , although I design my own patterns from scratch and I usually do ‘start – finish’ on my iPad (I have tutorials on my blog for how to create a repeat pattern on an iPad). My favourite things to design are chalkboard style Teatowels 🙂 but I’m also terribly addicted to colour gradients!
    https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/laurenpeachey

  • The idea of using wallpaper is awesome. Just consider the method. There are a variety of sites that print on demand, check them out for 1000s of designs available for purchase before taking work, replicating it and violating copyright laws.

  • This pattern is gorgeous! It has bold colors and looks great in the room. This is an inspiring concept that can be applied to any home no matter what the decorator’s personal style is.

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