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The Best Alternatives to Wallpaper

Is the writing on the wall for your cut-and-paste wallpaper? You don’t have to settle for another underwhelming wallpaper design.  

There are plenty of great alternatives to wallpaper, and while some are available to order online, others are much closer than you think. 

 Close up of newsprint as wallpaper on a wall.

Paper 

What’s an idea that’s good on paper AND in real life? Actual paper, of course.  

As a material, paper is one of the easiest to install. In most cases, all it takes is a bit of adhesive (polyurethane, double-sided tape, mod podge, or paste). If you change your mind, wet the walls and grab a putty knife or scraper to slowly peel it off. 

There are several types of paper products that’ll elevate your walls: 

 

  • Book Pages: Good books make the words fly off the page. So why not put the pages up on the wall? Whether you prefer old and faded or the newer, cleaner pages, you’ll feel like you’re inside your favorite story. 
     
     
  • Maps: Old maps have the same vintage charm as older book pages. Spread them out at random or arrange them geographically for an unforgettable statement wallpaper. Newer maps work too, giving your walls an ocean blue and landlocked green color scheme. 
     
     
  • Sheet Music: Whether it’s classical music or the tab sheet for your favorite guitar solo, putting sheet music on your wall is an excellent choice for the music nerd in your life. Pro tip: line the walls of your studio, bonus room, or music practice area for an extra creative boost. 
     
  • Recycled Newspaper: Clippings from your favorite team’s big win go great on the walls of your man cave. Even random articles from your favorite publication will look great together. 

 

Paper materials give you plenty of pop and bang for your buck in a super simple application. But if you’re looking for something a bit more fashionable, nothing says “fine quality” like fabric. 

 Close up of textured fabric applied to the wall.

Fabric 

Fabrics are very similar to paper when you’re using them as wallpaper. Most fabrics can be installed using liquid starch as glue, making them easy to install and remove later on. And just like paper, fabrics are easy to come by and many can be recycled. 

Here are three fabrics you could use as an alternative to wallpaper: 

 

  1. Leather: That classic brown or black leather look is not just for jackets. Strips of leather in those traditional colors—or patterned pieces for a more antique look—add an extra bit of flair to your home's walls. 

  2. Felt: Bold, Art Deco interiors are coming back into style, and nothing screams bold quite like felt. Solid green, blue, or red, or something with a pattern provide that elegant look and daring design that makes Art Deco so timeless. 

  3. Velvet: Speaking of elegant, velvet fabric is another great option for bolder, more beautiful walls. You’ll also get plenty of antique feel, like something from the Renaissance, the Colonial Revival period, and even ancient Egypt. 

 

These fabrics make wallpaper feel more like art than a wall treatment. But who says you can’t use actual art? Here’s how to do it. 

 Gallery wall of art on a neutral colored wall.

Art 

Popular trends will come and go, but the desire to be different stays the same. So if you want something a bit different from normal wallpaper, why not use art on the walls? If you’re not afraid to do things your own way, cover your walls in these accessible artworks: 

 

  • Decals: Everyone has favorite bands, coffee shops, restaurants, and sports teams. Immortalize them forever (or as long as you want) by using their decals as makeshift wallpaper. The peel-and-place installation is especially great for apartments or places where you’ll be living on an interim basis. 

 

  • Stencils: Many great designs are available in stencil form. That means a wide variety of designs will make great wallpaper! All you need to do is find your favorite stencils, grab the perfect paint, and paint them on a blank drywall space for an infinitely more diverse wall. 

 

  • Framed Prints: Everything from landscapes to family photos makes for a great print. Stack them side by side and around your wall for a more nostalgic wallpaper alternative. 

 

  • Posters: Just like framed prints, there’s a poster for everything. If you want to use them as wallpaper, put them in frames (or without) and pin them up next to each other.  

 

These special materials will make your wall stand out. But there’s one more medium that looks just as great as an alternative to wallpaper 

 Tin panels on a wall behind a bed with headboard.

Tin Tile 

Using tin tiles is one of the better ways to go from wall to wow. You can install them via a simple nail-up application that goes all the way to the wall with no extra gap left behind. 

There are over 30 patterns to choose from and many colors and finishes. 

 

  1. Unfinished: These tiles come without any color, powder coating or sealing pre-applied. 

  2. Standard & Premium: Standard and premium tiles come pre-coated in a baked-on, polyester resin for a lifelong finish. You’ll have several different neutral and metallic colors to select from, like ivory, black, metallic gold, and copper. 

  3. Artisan: Artisan tiles are powder-coated and include a hand-applied color coating that’s rubbed off strategically and professionally finished. The result is a more distressed look that you’d find in an older building. Some of the more popular colors include oil-rubbed gold, brushed bronze, and silver-washed white. 

 

The retro elegance of tin tile is one that makes the wall stand out, even more than wallpaper.  

 

Want to make tin tile your wallpaper alternative? 

 

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