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Decorating with Wallpaper: Projects That Use 1 Roll or Less

Updated on April 1, 2012

Decorating with wallpaper doesn't mean you have to cover an entire wall, though that is certainly an option. No matter whether you have an entire roll or just a few sample pages, there are many things you can do with wallpaper because its beautiful and sturdy; and I've got lots of projects listed below to get you started.

If you are planning on wallpapering an entire room you should know that the standard U.S. width of a roll of wallpaper ranges from 21 to 36 inches (53 to 91 cm) however it's length can vary. A standard roll of wallpaper will cover approximately 36 square feet, minus about four feet for trimming and cutting, so figure you'll get 30 square feet of wall coverage out of every U.S. roll of wall paper. European wallpaper rolls contain about 29 square feet of coverage (minus 4) for a total coverage of 25 square feet.

In order to estimate how many rolls of wallpaper you'll need to cover an entire room multiply the square footage of the room by the height of the ceiling. So if your room is 100 square feet and you have a ceiling height of 9 feet you end up with 900 sq. feet of wall space that needs to be covered. Divide this by the number of square feet in your roll of wallpaper. Let's say it contains 36 square feet. 900 divided by 36 = 25 so you'll need 25 rolls of wallpaper. Don't forget to always round up when measuring and ordering.

A Few Tips Before You Start

  • Wallpaper adhesive is fairly forgiving. For approximately the first hour you will be able to reposition the paper without causing any damage.
  • What ever you cover needs to be clean and free of dust in order for the adhesive to work.
  • Wallpaper adhesive will stick best to paint. For other applications consult with the manufacturer.

Projects Using One Roll or Less of Wallpaper

As I stated above a roll of wallpaper will give you between 29 and 36 square feet of wallpaper which is more than enough for even your biggest projects.

Cover an Old Piece of Furniture

Cover a dresser or chest completely in wallpaper and turn something drab into a real show-stopper.

  • For best results choose a smooth piece of furniture. If you like the look of molding you can always add it later.
  • Clean, then prime and paint your piece of furniture. It's best to use a color paint in the same tonal family as your chosen wallpaper. So, if you are using a light wallpaper then you'll want to use a light coat of primer. If you're using a dark wallpaper you'll want to use a dark primer. If you're still in doubt ask at the store where you buy your paint what they recommend.
  • Then, following the manufacturer's instructions included with your wallpaper, adhere it to the piece of furniture.
  • Finish by using two coats of a spray sealant.
  • Add some new drawer pulls to complete the look.


Cover Part of a Wall & Frame Out with Molding

A way to get major impact without spending major money is to cover a large segment of one wall (your feature wall) with a really stand out wallpaper.

  • You'll want to cover about 2/3 of the entire wall for the best effect (following the golden ratio).
  • Then frame it out with wide molding.

You can use any left over wallpaper for some of the smaller projects listed below. I think this scheme works best, as in the picture to the right, when you keep most of the room neutral. Just make sure to pick out color from the wallpaper and use it again in the room in small amounts.


Cover an Old Table Top

This is a great way to re-purpose and old table. In the photo on the right the major elements  of a large patterned wallpaper were cut out and decoupaged it to the table.

  • First clean then paint your table with a coat of primer and two coats of paint in your chosen color.
  • Then lay out the motifs on the surface, rearrange until you are satisfied with the results.
  • Use decoupage glue to paste them down.
  • Apply at least two coats of decoupage glue over the entire top of the table (don't worry it will dry clear).
  • Finally, finish up with two coats of sealant.

Line Shelves or the Inside of Cabinets for a Beautiful Surprise

This is a quick and easy way to spruce up your furniture with a relatively small amount of wallpaper.

  • If you're planning on putting the wallpaper on the back of the shelves just clean, paint and apply as you would with any piece of furniture.
  • If you are planning on resurfacing the top of a shelf then you will have to finish with several coats of sealant.
  • The same goes for cabinetry because even with pulls, your fingers (and their oils) will still come into contact with the paper.
  • Make sure you line up the pattern so that it has an even flow.

For more headboard ideas check out...

Beautiful Headboard Inspirations

DIY Headboard Ideas

Cover a Headboard with Wallpaper

You can change the entire look and feel of your room with less than 10 square feet of wallpaper.  Because of the inherent lack of cushiness of wood, this type of headboard actually looks best if it has a few curves.

  • Buy a piece of wood and cut to the desired width and height. 
  • Then cut it to the desired shape and sand.
  • Prime and paint (two coats of paint).
  • Adhere the wallpaper to the board, don't worry at this point about cutting it to fit the curves.
  • When the paper is dry, flip it over so that the wallpaper is pretty face down on the floor (lay a tarp down to protect it first) take a utility knife and carefully cut the wallpaper to the shape of your headboard..
  • Cover with 2 coats of sealant.

Patchwork Wall

This is a relatively cheap way to cover an entire wall or even room with wallpaper. You can usually find great deals on smaller amounts of wall paper on places like ebay but don't forget about your local DIY store. They often have sales.

  • Keep in mind that this will only work if you stay within the same color family.
  • Vary the size and scale of the patterns.
  • Mix floral with stripes and geometric shapes.

Make a Wall Collage

You can make this collage as random, meaning placing the wallpaper elements where ever you want (as long as they fit neatly within the lines of the silhouette) or very specific, meaning you could cut the wallpaper scraps into specific shapes and then piece them into the outlined form.

  • Use an art projector to enlarge an image. It could be of anything say an animal, tree, or a vase of flowers.
  • Trace around the image.
  • Fill it in with scraps of wallpaper making sure not to extend over the outlined form.
  • Think of this like coloring within the lines.


If You Like This Article You Might Also Like...

Beautiful Headboard Inspirations Sumptuous upholstered headboards in all shapes and sizes as well as directions on how to make them.

DIY Headboard Ideas Really creative ideas for making a big impact headboard without spending too much money.

Cover a Lamp Shade

This another one of those minimum effort- maximum impact changes that you can do with wallpaper in a room. There are three options with this one.

  • Paper the inside of the shade. You could use a metallic wallpaper to bounce some extra light around or a matte paper.
  • Paper the outside of the shade.
  • Paper both the inside and the outside of the shade.

While the below steps will work with most shapes.

  • Lay out a large sheet of paper (craft paper or wrapping paper but no newspaper as the print can smear) then place your existing lampshade on top, seam side down.
  • Take a pencil and simultaneously trace along the bottom edge of your shade as you roll it across the paper.
  • Make sure to mark the beginning of this line (X) so you know where it is.
  • When you get back to this point, keep rolling for about an inch or so while you trace.  This extra allowance will be the seam on your new lampshade.
  • Repeat these steps with the top of the shade.
  • Use a ruler to draw a straight line from the top line's X to the bottoms line's X and repeat on the other side.
  • You should have what looks like an elongated U.
  • Carefully cut out your pattern (leaving about 1/2 inch allowance on both top and bottom - this will be like your hem, and you'll wrap it over the edges onto the inside of the lampshade).
  • First wrap your pattern around your lampshade to make sure it fits.  If you're satisfied with the fit, then trace the shape onto the wrong side of your wallpaper and cut it out.  NOTE: you may have to make some small V notches at both the top and the bottom of your wallpaper so that it doesn't wrinkle as it wraps around the curved form of the lampshade.  Make sure that these don't extend onto the front surface of the lampshade.
  • Spray adhesive onto your wallpaper (test it first on a scrap of wallpaper to make sure the spots of moisture don't show through).
  • Then carefully roll your lampshade over the paper, smoothing out any wrinkles as you go.
  • Fold the extra allowance back onto itself to form a seam and brush with glue (you can use Elmer's glue, hot glue gun or rubber cement).

Make Art

Super easy!  Wrap the wallpaper around the canvas, folding the corners like you would a present and staple to the back of the frame.  Consider making yourself a triptych (you'll need 3 canvases that are longer than they are wide).

Or cover the mat of a picture frame and use it to beautify a plan picture.

Cover a a wooden picture or mirror frame with paper (this only works if the surface is flat).

Cover a big piece of MDF and lean it against the wall.

Smaller Projects

You won't need much wallpaper at all for these projects. You can probably use wallpaper samples to accomplish most of these decorating ideas which you can get free from discontinued wallpaper books at your local DIY. You can also send away for designer samples. Most companies will give away several of these for free and they're usually at least the size of a standard piece of paper.

  • Decoupage the back of a glass table top.
  • Make placemats by cutting the wallpaper to the desired size and either laminating or covering with several coats of spray sealant.
  • Decoupage the wallpaper to the back of plain glass coasters.
  • Cover some of your favorite cookbooks in wallpaper to protect them and make theme blend seamlessly with your kitchen décor.
  • Use samples as wrapping paper.
  • Frame them individually as art.
  • Cut out shapes, such as animals or silhouettes of your family's profiles and frame them.

Really you are only limited by your own imagination here. You can use small pieces of wallpaper to cover just about anything. Have fun and send me your pictures!

Article by Anne Alexander Sieder all rights reserved. For hardcore interior design fans, check out my blog


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    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 

      6 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      So many excellent ideas, and I just moved into a new house with all-blank walls... You can be sure your ideas will be employed in at least several places. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • jenniferg78 profile image


      6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Covering furniture with wallpaper! I never heard of that but it looks amazing! I also really love the picture of the bedroom with wallpaper in frames. Looks really good.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great ideas and photos! This is a very creative hub. Thanks for sharing. Take Care :)



    • amy11692 profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a wonderful hub! I'm going to have to try some of these things soon!

    • Liz Goltra profile image

      Liz Goltra 

      7 years ago

      Great hub - loved the photos. Voted up. Thanks for posting!

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      Aren't those fun? I wish I had made them myself.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Really enjoyed this hub. Will have Bookmark and come back and try some of your ideas. I especially love the covered chests.

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      You're welcome ;-)

    • American_Choices profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I love shifting through the wall paper books - now I know what I can do with allot of imagination - very cool - thank you!

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, netlexis.

    • netlexis profile image

      Katherine Koch 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Great hub, edelhaus, with lots of fun ideas.

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      Easy too! Thanks for leaving a comment.

    • whitton profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this Hub! There are so many neat ideas for using wallpaper. My favorite is the wallpaper headboards.

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      Thank you all for stopping by and leaving your really encouraging comments!

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 

      7 years ago from Maryland

      wonderful ideas!

    • Autumn Lynn profile image

      Autumn Lynn 

      7 years ago from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

      I saw in the forum that you asked for feedback on this hub--really great! I am new here and your series of terrific hubs is inspiring. Very good information laid out beautifully. I do hope you are getting traffic. If not learn all you can about getting traffic to these hubs. They are really useful and easy to follow not to mention great to look at. Bravo edelhaus! Best of luck.

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      thanks stanley3181 - it's comments like that, that inspire me to get creative.

    • stanley3181 profile image


      7 years ago from Ireland

      Decorating has not really been new in recent days but with such great ideas it becomes so renewed. Keep it up...


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