On the Hunt for Wallpaper Alternatives!

Lulu Frost studio via Domino MagazineLulu Frost studio via Domino Magazine

I’m sure I’ve mentioned by now, but my home renovations went a little (read—WAY) over budget (insert all the emojis here, especially the crying one). I’m embracing it as a life lesson because what else can I do?

On the bright side, this budgetary meltdown has brought on a lot of DIY inspiration! I’m not sad about this at all.

Right now I’m working on our entryway. I originally planned to wallpaper it. And I’d still love to do that in the future. Wallpaper is my favorite trend that is coming back in a BIG way. I would honestly wallpaper every square inch of our home if I could. Haha! But wallpaper can be very pricy when you factor together all the rolls you need as well as the installation (and I haven’t even found a wallpaper person in Nashville yet).

For all these reasons, I am on the hunt for DIY alternatives that have a wallpaper look. I want to do something that can pass as wallpaper but doesn’t necessarily have that “DIY” look. I’m also open to options that don’t look like wallpaper, but still add some pattern or texture to the space.

Here are a few options I’m considering, as well as inspiration!

Awesome graphic patternLove this graphic wallpaper via MyDomaine.

This image (as well as the opening image) inspire me because I think I could achieve this look with paint. I am leaning toward a busy, neutral pattern for the entryway. A lot of the wallpapers I love (like florals for example) are not something I could personally achieve with paint. These graphic patterns feel more do-able to me. So that’s one option I am considering.

Fabric with starchRemovable fabric as wallpaper via Apartment Therapy

Did you know you can use starch to adhere fabric to a wall and it’s removable? We did something similar in some built-in shelves in my last home using rubber cement. After a year (or so—I’m not sure), it removed perfectly with zero residue when we were getting the house ready to move. This appeals to me because I could do hand dyed or watercolor-style fabric. I do think it would be a LOT of time to do our (fairly large) entryway though. So I might save that idea for a smaller space, like one of our bathrooms that’s mostly tile or a single statement wall somewhere. 

Add molding?Love this molding via Decor Pad

Another option is adding molding and painting it one or two colors. I was really inspired by Laura’s closet doors. (They’re even better in person, you guys!!) Adding molding would be fun because it adds a lot of texture and can look really luxe, but it’s also simple and not super busy like some of my other ideas. Hmmm…. 

The downside here is that I think I do eventually want to wallpaper the entryway, and this option is WAY more of a commitment than some of the others. It’s not really something I’d want to do as a temporary or phase one solution. If we go this route, we’ll most likely keep it forever. 

Shiplap panelingShiplap paneling via Brandi Nell.  

The last option we’re considering is shiplap paneling. We’ve already done some of this in Jeremy’s studio, which has a slightly more rustic vibe than the rest of our home. I was also considering this for our laundry room. The thing I LOVE about shiplap is that it adds a lot of texture and you can cover over things you don’t like (ugly paneling, heavy texture or in my case—unwanted, existing wallpaper) without having to “fix them” the legit way (removing wallpaper isn’t exactly on the top of my dream DIY project list, you guys). 

The thing I’m not crazy about with shiplap is that it can look kind of country, which is awesome, but not what I’m going for in this space. But I’ve seen it styled really modern. So I’m not too afraid! 

Well, those are my options for now: a painted pattern, fabric as wallpaper, adding molding or DIY shiplap paneling. So much to consider! What would you choose? If you want to know what my entryway looks like as of now, check out my empty house tour

I’m really excited to get to work on this space! It’s the first thing you see when you come into the house, so I feel like it’s the perfect place to start. I’ll share more details as we move forward! 

Thanks for reading, and I really would love to hear your advice or any ideas you have. xx- Elsie 

  • I bought a whole lot of old patterns from my local thrift store, and used them to paper my craft room. Maybe something like that?

  • That top one could easily be achieved with some electrical tape too! I’m renting, and I’m addicted to using electrical tape! I even made some flowers 🙂

  • The pictures are amazing. It’d be a dream to live in a house as beautiful as that.
    I am really inspired by your blog. It’d be great if you could give me some tips to improve.
    Zabby from voidinyourthoughts.blogspot.com

  • Hi Elsie!

    If you and trey rent some steamers to remove the wallpaper….it’s not really that hard..just time consuming and tiring for the arms..but you could do it in a day easy…there are also wallpapers sprays to somewhat dissolve the paper…but I think steaming and scraping is best and no chemicals involved. Then just paint it until you’re ready for something final? You may want to wait to wallpaper anyway, until you are settled in and happy with the rooms…

    Can’t wait to see the reveal!!!

  • Vintage Revivals always does awesome walls with geometric patterns with sharpies!

    If you don’t like it after a few years, or when you can get the wallpaper you want you can paint or cover it up in a snap!


  • Um hello what about stencils and sponges! Loved your statement wall in your previous kitchen, Elsie. So grab some gray or silver paint and a cute design and just go for it in the entry. <3

  • We’re definitely doing one (just maybe not in this room- not sure!) Stay tuned! xoxo- Elsie

  • How about vinyl stickers or wall decals? It could get the wallpaper effect way cheaper, and there are places where you can get your own design made, who knows, maybe you decide to keep it 😉

  • Also, I like how big and open and welcoming it feels. I think wainscoting would interfere with that. I can see you would want to set and open, creative tone from the moment a visitor steps through your door.

  • At very least, a coat of white paint over the hyper-cheerful yellow. Then maybe you could live with it a little while until you can resupply you budget.

  • I am currently using pages from an atlas I found for 25 cents to make a statement wall and it is really coming along!

  • So many neat options! I love all the decor ideas you’ve been sharing recently!

  • We love wallpapers to decorate walls, the result is perfect!


  • Those options are pretty cool! I was really inspired by how removable wallpaper transformed Laura’s bedroom https://abeautifulmess.com/2015/09/8-ways-to-use-removable-wallpaper.html Amazing!
    xx- Elsie

  • Have you ever thought about rendered concrete walls? You can add colour to the render……it might not be the look you are going for but it looks so beautiful with wood features.

  • Wallpaper and professional installation is actually pretty expensive. It definitely varies from pattern to pattern, but they can get pretty pricy (and all my top options are on that end). So yeah, I think these options would definitely cost less and make the space feel more “us” in the meantime.
    I personally wouldn’t DIY a wallpaper install because I think experience really matters in getting it right! 🙂 -Elsie

  • Yep! I’m already planning to do some shiplap in other spaces (J’s studio, the laundry room and maybe a bathroom) so that’s the main thing that keeps me from also doing it in the entry. I love the style and it really can work in so many different spaces.

    Thanks for weighing in!
    xx- Elsie

  • Hey Amanda,
    That’s an option. Actually, we have the same wallpaper in the dining room and I will definitely leave it up in there until I can do wallpaper. Since the entryway is smaller and I already have a lot of the other decor pieces for it I’m more tempted to do a phase 1/phase 2 strategy, but we’ll see!

    Thanks for weighing in! xx- Elsie

  • I love the first options most (also the fabric dye!!). I think I would look great and you can make it as busy as you want to. Also think it is really you.
    Totally did the same with our house, totally went over budget and had to move it while they where still doing work, boo. And yes, telling myself the same thing. Its a life lesson, next time will be different 😉

  • I’m with Amanda! Fresh lick of paint, and then hang tight until inspiration and budget are better aligned!

    Although I did also think “Washi tape!” when I saw your first two images.

  • Mhm.. Won’t the molding or shiplap be more expensive than a wallpaper? Wallpaper can also be a DIY.. I’m sure with all your experience you can do that as well. It’s not as hard as it looks!

  • I think that molding and shiplap paneling make a room look rather narrow, so I would go for the paint. I think you can do a lot with masking tape as help!


  • I really like the simple paneling… It’s such a classic design & it’ll definitely give your rooms an elegant look. I wish I could change my walls too, but I’m stuck with decals in a college dorm room. 🙁

  • I love the graphic option! I vote for painting a pattern for sure 🙂 it seems the most creative & fun too. I’m so glad you posted the 2nd pattern because I have been so miserable in my kitchen as a renter that’s not allowed to paint & now I definitley want to try a pattern like that as a statement wall with electrical or washi tape – thank you for bringing hope to my lifeless kitchen!! 🙂

  • Love your finds! I live in a rental and am wanting to do a temporary statement wall in my bathroom. Great inspiration!


  • Great ideas for alternatives to wallpaper! Another option you could try is using patterned paint rollers (there’s a seller on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/patternedpaintroller). Have fun DIYing!

  • I drew gold bamboo on my walls and it was fairly easy, but more time consuming than I expected. I was happy with the results:


    Have fun and good luck!

  • I really like the graphic black and white ones you’d paint. Seems easiest/more gratifying change. Especially if you have a million other DIYs going. I know the budget and your house taking long is a personal pain, but I agree with a previous post, that seeing even more in progress/in thought posts is fun for the rest of us. Thinking stuff through with you inspires what I want to do with my own space.

  • I absolutely love the molding look! My husband and I obsess over molding.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Etsy

  • I love the panels and the DIY wallpaper (black lines especially). An easy update that you can just paint over if you don’t like it. Removing wallpaper is never an easy task.


  • I feel like Kara Paslay always comes up with interesting wallpaper alternatives. A lot of her projects seem time consuming but they end up looking great! http://karapaslaydesigns.com/category/blog/

  • Have you thought about temporary wall paper? I follow @tempaper_designs and @chasingpapernyc on Instagram and they have some really beautiful designs. Not sure on cost, though. I do love the temporary fabric in this post though. So pretty!

  • Ah yes! Such a difficult choice, but an original wallpaper can completely transform a room.

  • I really like the shiplap b/c that’s the style I like, but that first option is definitely an Elsie style that I think you could achieve 🙂 Think it would look great!

  • Lots of possibilities for wall patterns with washi tape. Also Jenny Komenda had a easy idea to add pattern with paint using painter’s tape here: http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-studio-bathroom-walls.html

    Good luck!

  • Why not just leave it until you can afford the wallpaper you truly want? I know you end up living with a not-so-ideal entryway for a while, but if budget really is the issue, it’s worth it to just wait and concentrate your efforts on other areas of the home in the meantime.

    That’s what I always do! I’ve been in my home for about two years and am still slowly updating areas I’ve been wanting to change since we moved in – simply because we couldn’t afford the cost up front and had to save and budget for the right time.

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