How to fake a wall of wallpaper for less than $60

Wallpaper has got such power to transform a room. The problem I have though, is that I love expensive wallpaper. Very expensive wallpaper. On top of the paper cost, you’ve then got the installation cost (I’m so not brave enough to DIY with expensey paper) so it’s always been an ‘admire from afar’ love for me.

This project is a few years old now but at the time, she was right into princess stuff. Sometimes, parenting has to veto style 4 yr old tastes and it was an opportunity for a DIY I’ve always had in my head: Fake wallpaper. I found these mid-century starbursts via Etsy then sold the concept to my mini-client as very royal. She took it: hook, line and sinker. She got her princessy vibe and I got a temporary look that I could live with. The whole lot cost me $52 for 50 stars (including shipping from Canada). I thought I was so clever for a few months, and then this exact design was all over Pinterest nurseryland. Ah well.

Vinyl wall decals are actually very easy to apply, but if you want a properly measured pattern to mimic the look of wallpaper, you need to break out a ruler, and do some measuring. I’m going to run through the whole project now but don’t forget to read the detail on the maths at the very end. Super important. Even if allergic to maths like I am:

Prep your wall

The bedroom wall before painting

I painted another coat over the top of all my filled-in and sanded back holes (Mr House of Ralph refuses to help with this stuff because he says it’s punishment for changing my mind so often on wall-attached accessories). He has a point I suppose.  Paint colour is Resene Karen Walker collection, called “Powder Blue”. Pretty before shot huh. Made the bed and everything.


The sheet of wall decals

The stars come in a sheet: First up, cut out each decal – just a rough border is fine, no need to follow the shape. It’ll make sense soon – promise.


Applying an individual decal to the wall

Peel off one of the sheets and place it on the wall. The decal itself is jammed in between 2 x sheets, both adhesive. The instructions will tell you which one to peel off first to place it on the wall. Mine was marked up, but I didn’t take a photo of that. Notice those guide lines? I’ll talk you through the maths soon, we’re focusing on the “getting these things on the wall” first because that’s the fun part.


Peeling off the decal backing paper

Once you’ve got it stuck on the wall where it needs to go, you run a credit card over the surface of the other sheet to smooth out any air bubbles etc. Once you’re happy there are no bubbles, peel off the vinyl sheet.



Wallpaper wall in progress

You’ll get into the swing of it, and it’s actually really satisfying. In-progress shot above:


Your maths lesson for the day:

I wanted to mimic the look of a patterned wallpaper, so before even purchasing the stars I’d measured the wall and figured out how far away apart I wanted the stars spaced (both vertically and horizontally).

The pack of 50 would give me spares if I stuffed up (always a good idea, especially when shipping from overseas).

Then we (this was a hugely “joyful” husband/wife DIY) measured the whole wall. A picture of the wall was drawn up factoring in the headboard, so that we wouldn’t be sticking up stars that wouldn’t be seen. This mini-picture was the guide for a floor-to-ceiling grid which gave us our vertical and horizontal lines. I then marked the centre-point for each star. Mr House of Ralph thought we were done at that point and wasn’t impressed when I pointed out I wouldn’t be able to see the “middle of each star” when placing the stars on the wall and would in fact need a mark for the “top of each top point” and the “bottom of the bottom point” for each star. You can see the final maths clearly below. Use this method for whatever shape you choose and you should end up with a really uniform look. Painful, but worth it.


The maths – so fun.


Our happy client

We introduced Molly to her new and nearly finished royal wall (we hadn’t rubbed out all the “maths lines” with an eraser yet in this pic). She was just a little bit impressed. In a weird case of interiors-driven wardrobes, her leggings match the wall. That was not on purpose.

I was thrilled that the entire wall cost less than $60 and you seriously can’t tell it’s not wallpaper, everyone thinks it is when they first see it. Pretty high marks on the smug “I-made-this-I-actually-made-this” scale. If you change your mind later on, good quality decals are very easily removed by softening with a hair-dryer and peeling off the wall. Too easy.

The unstructured look:

If you really can’t face the maths, go for an unstructured look so there’s zero pressure. Check out some awesome examples over at One Hundred Percent Heart or use the or the inspiring Abi’s dots from Alex Fulton Design. Such a special story behind those ones.

If you do decide to create your own fake wallpaper, I’d love to see your work. Tag me on instagram @houseofralph #fakewallpaper.

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