How to Create a DIY Wallpaper for Less Than $50

Interiors & Decor

DIY Diagonal Wallpaper SammyOnState Etsy
Photo by SammyOnState on Etsy

Following a long and tedious home renovation project, we had one piece of the puzzle left to crack. To help open up our dining room, we had taken the door off the staircase leading upstairs. With that space now open, the neutral walls felt a little dead and needed a pop of something.

Wallpapering had been on my mind since we started our renovation, but I couldn’t get myself to swallow the idea of spending major money on a pattern I might get sick of a year or two down the road. So, I started googling solutions.

Dining Room Design
Photo by Madeira Creative Photography

After just a few clicks and an Etsy search, I found my answer: I’d paint my own wallpaper! It couldn’t be that hard, right?

…Well, sort of right.

After some initial bumps, we now have “wallpaper” that cost a grand total of $40. And you can have it, too! Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Find a pattern

I started my pattern search on Etsy and narrowed it down to the below six options. Based on the color scheme of our house, I knew I would be creating something black and white, but the beauty of these stencils is you can make any pattern any color you’d like!

After much contemplation, an Instagram poll, and repeatedly asking my husband who could not care less, I decided to go with the herringbone pattern on the bottom right. Here’s why:

  • The top right and left patterns felt a little busy to me, and I thought they would be too much when mixed with our other home decor.
  • My favorite was and still is the bottom left pattern. It feels very on-trend and I love the randomness to it. However, the herringbone felt a little more timeless and something I probably wouldn’t get sick of as quickly.
  • A friend also pointed out the herringbone pattern I went with has an upward motion to it, which makes it perfect for a stairway.

After ordering the pattern, it shows up as a thin, flexible plastic sheet. I was immediately worried because it almost looked cheap, but it’s flexible for a reason, I promise.

Step 2: After the pattern arrives, read the directions!

Photo via Amazon

I almost skipped this step and it would have messed this whole thing up! After assuming I’d be using actual paint for this, I just about started painting over the stencil. That would not have been good.

These stencils are filled in using a Sharpie paint marker, which makes this whole process even easier and much less messy. No drop cloths to worry about, and the paint dries extremely quickly! These markers are actually quite cool—not only can they help you create wallpaper, but I’ve learned you can use them for a whole host of crafting projects (like coloring a pattern on a canvas bag or a flower pot).

We took off our staircase railing and outlet covers to make things easier, and the directions then show you how to correctly line up your stencil so you’re creating the pattern in a straight line. It’s basically foolproof.

Step 3: “Paint” the pattern

By this point, I thought this was all a little too good to be true. And, I was right.

There was definitely a bit of a learning curve. As I began filling in the lines, the Sharpie paint markers started to bleed into the wall paint, creating less than perfect lines (see image below).

This made me incredibly frustrated and I immediately tried to paint over it. As it turns out, these markers don’t like to be painted over right after they have dried.

Step 3B (Hopefully you won’t need this one): Try again!

After fixing the wall paint, I learned the trick is to paint each quick stroke in one pass without pausing at the beginning or end. You’re not trying to color in each line as you would with a coloring book, but rather using the stencil as a guide to make one quick line with your marker.

DIY Diagonal Wallpaper

As soon as I got the hang of it, I was able to finish the entire space in about 2.5 hours total (you can watch the process below).

If I were to do anything differently, it would probably be to choose a less “perfect” pattern. If I had chosen something that wasn’t so symmetrical, it would have hidden mistakes a lot more easily than the pattern I chose. Mine still isn’t perfect, but you hardly notice unless you’re really looking.

Step 4: Enjoy!

DIY Diagonal Wallpaper
DIY Diagonal Wallpaper

We absolutely love how the staircase turned out! And the best part? If we ever get sick of it, I can just paint over it and try again.

BY Maggie LaMaack - March 18, 2020

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