Off the Wall: 21 Clever Uses for Leftover Wallpaper

by Kentin Waits on 7 August 2013 2 comments

If you've done any home remodeling projects or gone thrift shopping lately, no doubt you've seen your fair share of scrap wallpaper rolls. They're everywhere — mismatched cast-offs in nearly every pattern, color, and style — still in the shrink-wrap just waiting to be repurposed. With such a glut in supply, I thought it prudent to brainstorm a few ideas on exactly how to repurpose all this decorating detritus. So grab a roll and try your hand at a few of my creative uses for leftover wallpaper. (See also: 17 Ways to Use Old Newspaper)

1. Table Runner

For inside or al fresco dining, a few feet of wallpaper can be unrolled to make a unique and stylish table runner. Don't worry about dribbles and stains; when you're done, just wipe off and roll it back up or recycle it.

2. Art Matting

Why pay for custom matting with so much scrap wallpaper around? Cut to size and frame your favorite family photos or small art pieces.

3. Scrapbooking

Wallpaper with a small scale pattern can make nice embellished detail for a scrapbook. Use it to create photo corners, page borders, or cut out figures and letters.

4. Framed Art

Large, bold, or abstract wallpaper designs can become art all by themselves. Compose an off-center study of a single wallpaper design detail. Mat and frame for instant and unusual art. Create a coordinated look by pulling colors from the framed paper and using them throughout a single room.

5. Gift Wrap

This is one of my favorite ideas — use scrap wallpaper as wrapping paper. Folding and taping takes some practice because the paper is a heavier weight, but the look is classic and always comment-worthy. Go for plaids, pinstripes, or other classic patterns and color-coordinate the wrapping for all of your gifts at the holidays, for a baby shower, or for other special occasions.

6. Gift Tags/Gift Card Holders

Cut small squares from wallpaper rolls, fold, and use as hanging gift tags. Use larger pieces to craft elegant gift card holders; use adhesive photo corners to secure the cards in each holder.

7. Surface Protector for Crafting

If you're a crafter like me, you know the hazards of cutting and gluing on your favorite tabletop or desk. Use wallpaper as a durable and disposable surface protector for your crafting projects or kids' art projects.

8. Placemats and Matching Napkin Rings

Cut matching placemats from wallpaper rolls and use indoors or out. Make matching napkin rings by cutting thin strips of wallpaper and gluing the ends together.

9. Drawer or Shelf Liner

Spruce up a guest room dresser or those pantry shelves by using wallpaper as drawer and shelf liner. Wallpaper cut to size works perfectly, is durable, and is easy to wipe clean.

10. Bulletin Board Cover

Class up your home office by customizing your bulletin board. Cut a piece of vintage wallpaper to fit exactly inside the frame and tacking at the corners. Paint the frame a coordinating color.

11. Collage Projects

Collage is great art medium for adults and kids alike because it's so forgiving. Try your hand at assembling a collage that includes wallpaper scraps, fabric, found objects, old photos, and images from cast-off books. Not happy with the way a piece is turning out? Just remove what you don't like and try it again!

12. Temporary Coasters

Add some elegance to an evening on the patio by making disposable coasters. Cut to size with pinking shears. Make personalized coasters for a party so guests don't grab the wrong drink.

13. Book Dust Jackets

Need a durable dust jacket for a text book? Try using wallpaper. Get your kids involved and make custom book covers for back-to-school.

14. Paint Drop Cloths

Have a dozen particularly hideous rolls of wallpaper from the 80s (read: seafoam green and apricot)? Roll it along the baseboards of a room you're painting to catch those inevitable drips and splatters.

15. Party Decorations

Have you been to a party supply store lately? The prices are high enough to put the damper on any celebration. Use colorful wallpaper to create streamers, scalloped table skirts, and large signs on a budget. Add some glitz by embellishing with glitter, paint, or silk flowers.

16. Puppet Theater Backdrops

Little kids love puppet shows. Get creative with wallpaper scraps and try your hand at set design. Cut, paint, and embellish landscapes, streetscapes, and interior stages for a kids' puppet theater.

17. Birdcage Lining

Polly wants a crafter. Wallpaper is more durable, protective, and nicer to look at than newsprint.

18. Papier Mache Projects

Use newspaper to create the foundation of a papier mache project, and then add wallpaper strips as the outer layer. It'll add strength and rigidity to your creation and give it a more finished and decorative look.

19. Dollhouse Decorating

Encourage your little Martha Stewart or Nate Berkus. Use scrap wallpaper to decorate your kid's dollhouse. Make it a fun project you can do together. Gravitate toward small-scale patterns for the smaller-scale format and use a thin coat of craft glue or a glue stick to apply.

20. Fun Menus for Family Dinner Night

Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations can all be made a bit more special with fun family dinner menus. Use wallpaper as the border or the cover for the menu, and play around with the name of your "restaurant" and the items on the menu.

21. Garland or Tinsel on a Christmas Tree

Long thin strips of classic wallpaper glued back-to-back can give a unique look to any Christmas tree. Wrap it like garland, and when the season's done, just roll it up for next year. Or add your homemade "garland" as an accent to fresh evergreen boughs.

The next time you pass a few rolls of wallpaper at a yard sale or thrift store, see if there's a particular pattern you like. Chances are you'll find dozens of additional ways it can be used in crafting, at the holidays, for picnics, and for other practical projects around the house.

Have you found a novel use for wallpaper? What's your favorite off-the-wall wallpaper idea?

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Guest's picture

Using it for gift wrapping or holidays is a great idea. Hmm..now I wonder what else around the house I can use for new things or new decorations. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Selenie Beanie

I cut the wallpaper into 1/2" x 4" pieces; then folded each piece and made a gum wrapper-style chain with them. It was very colourful and looked terrific on my Christmas tree!

I also made covered picture frames with cardboard and some quilt batt. They turned out pretty cool

It also made some awesome origami pieces too! Luv, luv LUV wallpaper!