5 Excellent Alternatives To Wallpaper (Pros and Cons of Each)

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Sick of your old wallpaper? What alternatives are there to bring the life back to your sad, bare walls?

While wallpaper is enjoying a revival and sometimes it’s a great option, there are viable alternatives to wallpaper that cost less and are much easier to do.  Wallpaper is not the easiest to put up.

Here are some of the things you can do to cover them up and enhance your new home.

1. Paint the Room, £375 – £500/room

Room getting painted with accent wall

The most obvious alternative is to paint your walls (see our awesome list of virtual paint color visualizers), as you would normally. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s the most traditional one.

PROs

  • The look will be consistent and subdued, with little to no room for error. It’s basically a fail-safe for decorating a home, especially if you have any bold furniture; paint makes for a no-fuss, neutral backdrop and you can add whatever kind of finish you want!
  • You can hire someone to do it for you if you’re not up to the task. You can easily find a professional to come over and do your entire house and they will be able to quote you accordingly.
  • You can do it yourself. Just grab a can of paint and some rollers and go to town, on your own or with some friends. Here is a handy guide.

CONs

  • It can be a little too plain for some people, especially if you are looking to add some visual interest to a room. Ironically, there is no artistic element to painting.
  • Hiring a professional to do the job for you is the easy way out, but it can get expensive, depending on how many rooms you want done.
  • Painted walls can be a bit old-fashioned, depending on your age, taste, and location. The younger generation wants something a bit more exciting.

2. Paper, Free

Walls covered in newspaper used as wallpaper

Have you ever considered covering your walls in paper? Pages from your favourite books, old maps, love letters, diaries, or sheet music – together, it can create a giant, eclectic collage. And you can even stick them to the wall without damaging it.

PROs

  • This method is particularly inexpensive, because technically, there are no specialised materials to buy. Supposedly, you already have the pages in your home.
  • It can look incredibly interesting and artistic and you will probably never tire of “reading” your walls. Plus, it makes for an excellent conversation piece for when you have guests.
  • This ensures that your walls and rooms are 100% unique and personalised. No one else will have the exact same pages or placement as you do.

CONs

  • This method can give a very messy look to a room. There is no way to make this neat and tidy, because each page will have a different size, look, and yes, smell.
  • It may or may not take forever to gather all the paper you need to fill up four full walls, and you will need to destroy books and diaries in the process.
  • This is not necessarily a good long-term decorating choice, as the paper will peel off at the corners or have an inconsistent, unfinished look.

3. Gallery walls, Price varies

Stylish home wall gallery.

The newest thing the kids are doing is creating so-called gallery walls, which are walls filled with framed art and prints. Mix and match different sizes for maximum effect.

PROs

  • For someone who is artistically-oriented, filling up a wall with framed paintings, photos and prints can be a stylistic dream.
  • You can personalise the wall completely to your tastes. You get to pick every single image, as well as the frames and achieve the exact look you want.
  • Prints and art will not start to look “old”, like paint or wallpaper can. As long as you dust them regularly, this is a long-term decorating choice.

CONs

  • It can be quite expensive to fill up an entire wall with photos. Even if you don’t hang actual artwork, prints can cost you a pretty penny too, and frames are not inexpensive. It may not be worth the cost, unless you make them yourself.
  • A gallery wall can have a very cluttered look, or it can feel “heavy”, almost. Even when it’s the one feature wall in an otherwise basic room, it can be too much.
  • Finding so many different pieces of artwork you want to hang can take a very long time, so you’ll be looking at taking months or even years to fill up a wall.

Classy and elegant wall stencilling.

One of the most elegant and classy-looking decorating techniques is stencilling. While it is labour-intensive and time-consuming, it is also timeless and there are endless design options.

PROs

  • Stencilling is a uniquely beautiful treatment, that can set your walls apart. You can do it on all four walls for a cohesive look, or just limit yourself to one wall if you want to make it a feature.
  • If you have the stencils, you can do the stencils again when you repaint the room, or transfer them to a different room or house, etc.
  • Even though it’s precision work, stencils can be applied by multiple people at the same time if you have more of them.

CONs

  • This method is extremely labour-intensive, so if you are planning on doing it yourself, you are in for some long nights of precision work. It is a very detail-oriented job.
  • It can be expensive to hire someone to do stencilling for you, precisely because of how much time, effort, and attention it requires.
  • You can’t really keep the applied stencils if you want to change the colour of the walls, so you would have to redo them.

5. Wall decals, £20-150/piece

Good-looking temporary wall decal.

Looking for a quick way to fill up a feature wall or hide an ugly stain? Apply a temporary decal and transform your room!

PROs

  • This method is a fairly inexpensive way of filling up a wall that you want to make a feature out of. A decal is usually one massive piece so you don’t need anything else around it.
  • Decals are especially good for kids’ rooms if you don’t have the time or money for intricate murals for nurseries or play rooms, but still want something cheerful and colourful.
  • Decals are temporary, so you don’t need to commit to this method for a long time. If you don’t like it, you can just peel it away.

CONs

  • It may seem like decals should be easy enough to apply, but especially if it’s a large piece, it can be difficult to do it alone. You have to make sure it’s properly aligned and that it doesn’t create any awkward air bubbles.
  • A lot of wall decals are fairly garish, so not particularly elegant. They can work for a youthful house or children’s rooms, but they are not exactly appropriate for a mature living room.
  • The fact that they are inexpensive is an advantage, except for the fact that they look as cheap as they are.

As you can see, there are several things you can do as alternatives to using wallpaper, in varying degrees of creativity and effort. Pick the right method for you and get to work on your new wall treatment.





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