Cover Up Ugly Wallpaper In A Rental – DIY

August 23, 2014 / By / , , , , , , / Post a Comment

I love our new place. It’s absolutely beautiful. We’ve just moved into an old tenement building and our current landlords bought this place, gutted it out and added high quality fixtures, finishings and furnishings. Just to give you an idea of how nice this place is: our entry way has a beautiful chandelier and our living room has a new-age electric fireplace! I knew we had to move into this place when we first walked into this place to check it out. I loved practically everything about our new home, except one thing. What I didn’t love was this heinous, seizure and vomit inducing wallpaper in the bedroom! IMG_6493.JPG

Please, please, gauge my eyes out…right? The bright colours would have suited some, but I’m more drawn to neutrals, pop of colour here and there, not too girly, not too manly interiors. I think my interior stylings can be simply described as understated feminine. And that wallpaper was just cramping my style. For weeks before we were to move in, I was just itching to get my hands on the damn wallpaper, just so I could rip it off.

Unfortunately, this beautiful, wonderful place I’m so glad to call home is also a rental. That means, I can’t replace (or rip and burn!) the wallpaper, no matter how much I wanted too (I know a bunch of you are nodding your head in agreement.) Oh, the joys of being a renter! Short of actually gauging my eyes out I didn’t know what else I could do!  How do you cover up ugly wallpaper in a rental?

Suddenly, in a moment of sheer brilliance I found a way to make my walls go from what you see above to these gorgeous walls below. I covered up the ugly wallpaper with prettier wallpaper (READ: more my style) in a manner that is rental apartment friendly. If you’re currently struggling with heinous wallpaper in your rental (or bare walls) don’t despair there is hope for you yet! My tutorial is simple to follow, requires patience, steady hands for cutting and zero knack for DIY. I’m a terrible crafter but I found this DIY to be simple enough to do by myself. No help required.


 Cover up ugly wallpaper in a rental – A DIY STORY

What you’ll need:
1. Patterned wallpaper of your choice
2. Measuring Tape
3. Pencil
4. Ruler
5. Scissors/ Paper Cutter
6. Clear Thumb Tacks
7. Step ladder (depending on height of your wall)
8. Patience, strength and time.

Step 1: First measure the length and width of your existing wallpaper. Note these down.
Step 2: Find wallpaper you actually like. Use the length and width of your existing wallpaper as a guide to figure out how long your wallpaper roll should be. It’s always better to have more wallpaper than less wallpaper. This is incase your measurements are wrong, if you make a mistake or if one of your panels has a defect. Also, most importantly, figure out whether you would like to place your wallpaper horizontally or vertically. In my case, I was going to be laying my wallpaper vertically and based on the earlier measurements of my existing wallpaper, I figured a single roll of the new wallpaper would be enough for this DIY project. In the end, I had enough wallpaper leftover to cover up an awkward corner. Measurements and paying attention to the product details are vital to make sure you get this project done in one go!


Step 3: Once your roll arrives, using the measurements of your existing wallpaper, cut down to size the new wallpaper. Also, if you haven’t already figured out how you’ll place your wallpaper, now is the time to experiment with the pattern before you cut it. My old wallpaper lay horizontally and it was seriously pulling my eyes in all directions. I knew that simple vertical stripes would accentuate the height of our ceilings. After placing the full roll against the wall both horizontally and vertically, I proceeded with my initial gut call and cut the paper into vertical panels.


Step 4: Align the top of your new wallpaper with the top of the old wallpaper. You’ll want to cover up the wallpaper from top to bottom. Once aligned, proceed with the clear thumb tacks. I placed the thumb tack approximately 1″ from the top of the new wallpaper. I placed two thumb tacks on either end of the wallpaper panel. You’ll then want to run your hand down the wallpaper and try to hold the paper gently taut against the wall and then place another thumb tack approximately 1″ from the bottom of the wallpaper. Make sure you don’t pull too tightly on the wallpaper as there is a risk of ripping the paper.  Just make sure you pull it taut enough to eliminate the space between old wallpaper and new wallpaper. You don’t want any part of that old wallpaper peeping through.

P.S. pushing the clear thumb tacks into the wall will be the hardest part. If you have thick plaster walls, you’ll really want to put your weight behind the push. Try not to wiggle the thumb tack too much – you’ll end up creating a bigger hole (you don’t want to do that). If you’re finding it hard to just push into wall, I recommend using a hammer – but word of caution: do not put too much strength behind it. You can break the head of the thumb tack. When possible, just use your body strength to push the thumbtack into the wall. Also, clear thumb tacks are the best since you can’t see them on the wall unless you’re up close and personal. I can’t recommend them enough for this project! 


Step 5: repeat step 4 and…this time make sure the edges of the wallpaper line up. You can overlap them slightly if you like. I just tried to align them as best I could. This part is a bit of a trial and error. But working with thumb tacks is so much easier than working with glue. So if your paper doesn’t align properly the first time, try and try again until they do.


Step 6: Repeat step 4 and 5. If your wallpaper goes behind furniture don’t worry about being precise about the measurements for that panel. Part of it will be hidden anyways. So if you’ve made mistakes (cutting the wrong length or width) now is the time to use the defective panel. I definitely made errors with a panel. Luckily I had saved it and used it for a panel that was going to hide behind furniture.

Step 7: Repeat step 4, 5 and 6. At this point, if you have an awkward nook (like I do), measure it out and leave it to last. Remember when I said make sure you have enough wallpaper roll for your wall and then some? Nooks are notoriously hard to get precise measurements for which is why having extra wallpaper is ideal incase you make a mistake. Also, my suggestion would be to place the wallpaper on the wall and trace an outline of the nook onto the paper and then cut.

And voila! This is the final result.

Bedding: TK MAXX// Cushions: Ebay // Grey Striped Wallpaper: Amazon.

I love how my room looks now! It is the essence of calm and cozy. It’s exactly how I envisioned it would be. One of the panels is overlaid with another and that was the only hitch (glitch?) in the project. BUT apart from that, this DIY wallpaper cover up is a success. When I removed new wallpaper panels from the wall when was trying different alignments I barely saw the tiny holes left behind from the thumb tacks. They were near invisible. And should you somehow end up with slightly bigger holes, rest assured that these can be filled with Spackle before you leave your rental.


So there you have it. You can now cover up ugly wallpaper (or even bare walls) with clear thumb tacks and some pretty wallpaper. Add your own style and personal touch in your living space. If you try this DIY, let me know how it goes, or share pictures with me on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to see how you get on! Let me know what you think of this DIY in the comments below. If you have any question, feel free to ask!

Until next time x

P.S. I’ve been so busy with work and life and travel that I completely lost track of time and days since I wrote here. I promise to be better.

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Hi! I'm Nadia. I'm a twenty-something wanderlust from Dubai currently living in Glasgow, Scotland. I love all things beautiful and adore husky puppies. Welcome to Le Chic By Nadia.