Alternatives to wallpaper include common items used to cover walls and create unique rooms.
Most prefer to paint, create textured plaster of some kind or purchase wallpaper to cover plain walls. But using a little imagination with alternatives to wallpaper can yield one-of-a-kind results. Large maps were used to cover the walls in this bedroom by Steven Gambrel. The soft colors are repeated in the furnishings and accented with the bold striped chair and window shades. The Danish modern desk is flanked by a pair of retro metal chairs painted an ocean hue. A small side table replaces the often used bench at the foot of the bed. The wooden bed frame and headboard also are painted a soft blue likely taken from highlights in the maps. Simple bed linens don’t distract from the beautiful walls. Even the bedside lamp is sea-themed, a replication of a netted Japanese Glass Fishing Float.
I can’t think of anything less expensive (or more messy) to use as wallcovering than newspaper but people use it. This modern master bedroom is a case study of black and white. The floor lamp was no doubt moved for the photo shoot, helping to give the room its edgy feel. The straight lines of the newspaper columns are repeated with the tufted headboard and bedside table, and are softened by the soft bedding and curved vase.
In an Adirondack retreat guest bath, brown kraft paper was hand-painted by a local artist with “snow flurries,” while it reminds me more of a spotted fawn. Either way, this unique wall treatment is a natural companion to the room’s birch bark accents. This is one of the more original alternatives to wallpaper I’ve seen and having it hand painted makes it completely unique.
When a couple’s first home became the guest house, a main bath was given designer treatment. Pages from “The Book of Botanical Prints: The Complete Plates” were applied with wallpaper glue. In lieu of a traditional medicine cabinet, a wicker mirror adds another layer from nature to the room. The shower curtain wasn’t necessary, but hides the sliding tub doors. It’s another inexpensive solution that makes an impact.
A total 180, this 19th-century Catskill farmhouse bathroom features ceiling and walls plastered with discolored newspaper pages. One of the owner’s canvases is placed above the claw foot tub. Purchased on a trip to Moscow in 1989, Soviet agitprop posters create an interesting accent wall in a room virtually bare of color.
In the same home, an interior window wall is papered in sheets from the book Birds of New York. An oversized French bat print and birdcage sculpture round out this avian theme vignette. Years ago, I framed several pages from a beautiful hummingbird book, but I’m not sure I’m ready to take this leap just yet.
Lastly, one of the farmhouse guest rooms has walls covered with blank sheets from an old ledger. I love the effect of the discolored edges. A small mirror hanging above one of the two mirrored side tables echoes the pages. The black pencil post bed canopy frames a Czech botanical print.
The larger map and newspaper treatments would have a better appearance when applied to a smooth wall. Smaller papers, such as old deeds, letters or postcards, could help hide the sins of rough surfaces.
(Sources: Steven Gambrel, Flickr, House Beautiful, Country Living, NY Times)
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