What It Is: Installing temporary removable wallpaper from Chasing Paper
Who Tried It: Megan Stein, PEOPLE Home and Travel Associate Editor
Level of Difficulty: 7
Renting an apartment in New York City comes with many challenges, perhaps the most prevalent being a lack of decorating freedom. Aside from hanging pictures or artwork on the walls, you’re pretty much stuck with whatever look comes with your lease.
In recent years, though, apartment dwellers have had more options for getting creative in their temporary homes. One example: removable wallpaper. I have always been curious about the stuff. Will it actually wind up looking like a cheap decal? Is it too much work for what it’s worth? Will it fall off after a week?
My current bedroom in my tiny Manhattan apartment (proof of its miniature size here) provided the perfect canvas for trying out the trend. The accent wall behind my bed was just big enough to make a statement, but not so large that it would be a huge undertaking.
Although there are several temporary wallpaper makers out there, the designs from Chasing Paper spoke to me. Being a savvy shopper, I ordered three 9×12-inch samples in different patterns — Speckle, Misty Marble and Pucker Up — to see which worked for my room. When they arrived, I was really blown away by the quality. Not only were the patterns printed beautifully, but the texture felt like the real deal.
After ooh-ing and aah-ing about that, I arranged the contenders on my wall. Next, I posted the options on Instagram Stories and polled my friends on their picks. The Speckle was by and large the most popular, with the Misty Marble second and Pucker Up in third. Once the results were in, I removed my least favorite (Misty Marble) and waited a few more days.
Then, I did what I would suggest to anyone designing a room: I threw out the popular vote in favor of what felt most like me — the poppy, feminine lipstick print. Based on my measurements, I ordered 7 panels, which included one extra in case something went wrong in the hanging process.
Then came the tough part: the application. The backing of the panels peel back like a sticker, which sounds super-simple, but definitely takes a little trial and error to get right. I would highly suggest — nay, insist — a second set of hands, as I could not have succeeded without the trusty smoothing skills of my roommate, Jeff. For the first panel, I started at the top left corner and pulled back diagonally, while Jeff held the bottom taut. On the second try, we pulled the edges from left to right thinking this would help us line up the two patterns easier. It wasn’t a tragedy, but we found the initial method worked better for a smoother result.
The amazing thing about these panels it that the patterns cut off at exactly the same points on all sides, so lining them up is a breeze. But applying them without any bubbles and making sure the seam isn’t noticeable certainly takes a lot of patience. Your secret weapon here is a credit card (in our case, an Applebees gift card. Thanks, Mom!) which we used to smooth the surface post-placement.
The Verdict: In hindsight, Jeff and I agreed that it would have been smarter for us to apply the panels slightly atop each other as opposed to trying to line them up next to each other, as that would have cut down on us worrying about any strips of wall showing through. Another thing to mention is that my walls were almost exactly the same size of the panels, so I did not need to use an X-Acto knife (I simply folded the excess around the edges of the wall). I imagine having a different size canvas would make the process a bit more of a pain, but definitely a manageable one.
It took some elbow grease, but I am obsessed with the finished product. It was the perfect opportunity to try a bold look without a huge commitment, and now I have the ultimate girl cave. One accidental side effect, though, was the itch to redesign even more and toss out my old above-the-bed frames I’ve been carting around since my first apartment. New wallpaper, new wall art, right?