Customize Stairs With Removable Wallpaper (Renter-Friendly!)

Easy staircase update from abeautifulmess.comIf you’ve been reading A Beautiful Mess for very long, then you might remember back when we first moved into our studio house and we were planning how we wanted to decorate everything. One dream we had was to add some color or pattern to our entryway staircase. But our big hesitation was we didn’t know if we wanted to permanently alter our old (probably original) staircase. The pressure was on for sure!

Recently we decided that before we move, we just had to pull the trigger, but with an update that wasn’t permanent. We realized this is also a great opportunity to talk about removable wallpaper because it’s a super useful home decor element for those who are looking for a temporary change or for rentals. So we thought this would be a great post to work with, as they are a great source for anyone looking to move (and rent) this year. Several of our friends have used the site when hunting down a rental because it’s a trustworthy resource–the reviews are verified as written by actual residents, and the 3D floor plans make it easier to inspect the rental.

Stair makeover with removeable wallpaperHere you can see the before and after. Not a completely different staircase, but man does that pop of pattern add so much personality! Our only regret is that we didn’t do this sooner!!! Here are our tips for hanging removable wallpaper in your space.

How to hang removeable wallpaper Our house is, like I said, an older house (over 100 years old!), which means that most features aren’t exact, like the walls don’t have exact angles and the stairs are not all exactly the same size. Don’t assume, be sure to measure. For us this meant finding the largest stair and cutting out all our papers to that size first.

We bought five panels from Chasing Paper in order to cover our entire staircase, with some scraps left over. 

How to hang removeable wallpaperThen we held the wallpaper up to the stair and folded it if it was too big. This is an easy way to identify your trim line and get your wallpaper to fit exactly as you need on each stair front.

How to hang removeable wallpaper Once you have your wallpaper trimmed to size, remove a strip of the back down the center. 

How to hang removeable wallpaper Line up your wallpaper and press down in the center. Then remove one side at a time and press in place. Starting in the center gives you more control over the placement than if you start on an edge. 

Stair makeover from abeautifulmess.comI’m SO happy we finally took the plunge and updated our entryway staircase. Hooray! And it’s even better that I know we can easily remove this update someday if we choose. Double hooray! Do you have any stairs, bookcases, or built-ins that you plan to add removable wallpaper to this year? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Project Assistant: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I know this post is really old and you moved out, but how did this hold up? I’m debating if I should add some protective layer (like varnish?) over the wallpaper to prevent scuffing… thoughts?!

    • Hi! If you get a hearty wallpaper (like chasing paper) you can wipe it down and there is no need to varnish!

  • What a wonderful idea! It totally brightens up the space! Also, loving your shoes 🙂

    Colour Me In Blog

  • This is awesome! Sometimes it really doesn’t take much-just a brill idea 🙂

  • Such a great idea!

    I love that it’s not permanent too! (I tend to get tired of things quickly!)

    Let’s Mingle Blog

  • Great personality. I love it (now if only I could get this ugly carpet off my rental stairs…. it’s like a mottled red with brown accents hahaha)

  • Am I the only one swooning over those clogs? Super cute! I have to know, what brand are they?

  • Love the stairs, but I really wanna know more about the shoes!

  • This idea sounds really good. I have an old staircase. I thought i will paint it with funny colors but for the moment it could be great to put removable paper. I will search where i can find that kind of products here in France.
    Thank you for your wonderful blog !

  • Very cool! I recently did the same thing using fabric, which can be a lot cheaper than wallpaper — I paid $23 for all the fabric I needed. I used mod podge which isn’t removable, but I think it could easily be done with starch to make it removable. (my process is here, if helpful for anyone!

  • Very cool! I recently did the same thing using fabric, which can be a lot cheaper than wallpaper — I paid $23 for all the fabric I needed. I used mod podge which isn’t removable, but I think it could easily be done with starch to make it removable. (my process is here, if helpful for anyone!

  • Ahhh this is such a cute idea I love it! Gutted I live in a one floor flat with no stairs haha.

  • Wonderful idea , wish I can do that with my stairs but stuck with fitted carpets unfortunately , will save this idea for the next place

  • This is beautiful!! Thanks for sharing. Would love to try this, it looks so classy and elegant.

  • That looks pretty. What a simple way to jazz up a flight of stairs!

  • I love this! especially the fact that it’s renter friendly! I’m moving soon and this looks like such a fun way to add some character to a home.

  • Ahhhh, thank you for doing a post for renters. I just got my first teaching job and I’ll be moving into my first “adult” apartment this fall. Can’t wait to use one of the Chasing Papers on the heinous faux wood kitchen cabinets I’ll be learning to love…

  • I love how fun this is! It brings such a fun pop to those stairs!


  • It may be a silly question, but can you use this over wallpaper? Or is it like contact paper? Its just all the rentals Ive been in, have really old wallpaper up.

  • Love this idea! I’m always on the hunt for good renter friendly tips!


  • OH MY! I love it, the wood pops so much more with this bright white on its bottom. Nice iniciative guys, you nailed it (again).

    tsiou, from

  • I love this look! It changes the space so much, without damaging that beautiful staircase. That whole house is beautiful.


  • Thanks for the renter friendly posts! They’re so helpful. And Emma that last picture of you on the stairs is adorable 🙂

  • Ooooh, that’s pretty! The staircase is awesome, well done. I a.dore your outfit too though Emma 😀

  • I was wondering the same thing! Well, whoever buys it sure is lucky that you all were in there, sprucing it up! Good luck in your new space(s). 😉

  • This looks so fantastic, what a great idea. I don’t have stairs in my rental apartment or would for sure be doing this! I’ll keep it bookmarked for future dwellings. 🙂

  • Yes, we are planning to sell it sometime this summer since our team is splitting up. We figure we don’t really need as much space in one spot, so it just makes sense to move on to other opportunities. We sure will miss this house though—such a beautiful old home.

    We had mentioned this in one of our Live Stream events but I guess we didn’t say it on the blog officially yet. So, yeah, good question. 🙂


  • Before you move?? Are you guys giving up the studio with Elsie and Laura leaving town?

    The wallpaper is amazing, your staircase looks great!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.