Home Renovations

Clever renovation ideas and tips for the home renovator

How To Fake a Wall Of Wallpaper For Less Than $60

Author: Anna
Source: House of Ralph

Wallpaper has got such power to transform a room. The problem I have though, is that I love expensive wallpaper. Really 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.

When we were re-doing Molly’s big-girl’s room, she was right into princess stuff. Vomit. Sometimes however, parenting has to veto style 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 nursery pinterest land. Ah well. Still love ‘em.

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. Here’s what we did:

Prep your wall

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.

Molly's room before


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.



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. STAR WALL IN PROGRESS 1


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.



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


Now for the maths:

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 “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.


Nearly complete:

We introduced Molly to her new and nearly finished royal wall (we hadn’t rubbed out all the “maths lines” with an eraser yet). 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.


The finished product:

And here it is in a lovely shot by Jonathan Kay. 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, they’re easily removed by softening with a hair-dryer and peeling off the wall. Too easy.



Other Inspiration:

Here’s some other great examples of fake wallpaper using vinyl decals. I’ve stuck to the gold theme for these, but there are so many colour options out there, most decals come with a rainbow choice of selections so whether you’re into bright and colourful, pretty pastels or monochromatic, there’s something there for you.

My absolute favourite because…these are HAND-CUT! How impressive is that! So stylish, and so impressive. These are from the talented Brittany at bsazcreates.com. Go check her out, so many cool ideas.



Or this one from Happy Valley Goods on Etsy – a herringbone statement wall for a steal: check our their hexagon honeycomb, triangles, crosses or feathers for more inspiration.



The unstructured look:

If you really can’t face the maths, here are some still awesome designs, but with no structure so there’s zero pressure:



I did this unstructured look across one wall and a corner in Tom’s room using large gold dots from Polkadot Wall Stickers on Etsy. These cost me $20 USD including shipping. I got 18 x dots that were quite big (4 inches across) but you can now get a fantastic range home-grown in NZ too. Check out Collected or the inspiring Abi’s dots from Alex Fulton Design. Such a special story behind those ones.


House of Ralph

Published:  5 July 2017.

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