5 Wall Décor Ideas That Aren’t Wallpaper

Wallpaper has had its time and place, and in some home décor, it's making a comeback. However, wallpaper can be challenging and costly to put up while being even more difficult to take down. It's not the best project for the novice DIYer, so you may want to look for alternatives for your next decorating project.

Here are five alternatives to keep an eye out for – we'll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of each option, so you make the best decision for your home.

Set Up Your Own Gallery (Wall)

Whether you're a connoisseur or just a casual enjoyer, this can liven up any room.

If you're into art, you may want to check out setting up a gallery wall in your own home. It's a cool way to feature different art and prints that highlight your interests while mixing and matching the sizes to keep it visually engaging. Like a gallery, guests will be drawn to examine your choices and what they say about you and the world around us.

Gallery walls are completely personalized, so you can highly curate your wall. When properly framed, prints and paintings will not start to fade with time like traditional paper. Make sure to dust regularly to keep them looking fresh. There are many places to purchase art, but this can get costly.

Check out local thrift stores and secondhand shops for art. Even if you don't like the painting, pay attention to the frame. Most prints can be swapped out with little effort. Also, look out for art that is in the public domain. You can download it for free and print it at a local store for relatively cheap. While it may take time to arrange a gallery wall fully, you can do it cost-effectively if you're smart about it.

Keep in mind that gallery walls can look cluttered in smaller spaces. It can make a space feel imposing and heavy if not arranged properly, so you'll want to make sure that you lay it out and test it before hanging anything up to ensure you like the look and feel.

Wall Decals Are Quick and Stick

Just make sure the adhesive won't take off the paint should you choose to redecorate.

Think of a wall decal like a giant sticker for your wall – you just peel it and stick it, and you're good to go! They aren't as imposing as wallpaper. When you use a wall decal, it's typically one item or a series of items that you're sticking on your wall. This can be a quote that resonates with your or your children's favorite video game characters. The options are endless, so start browsing.

The cool thing about wall decals is that they can help fill up a wall with little effort, even covering stains and imperfections rather than painting over them. They are temporary, so if you change your mind, all you have to do is peel them off. Wall decals should be paint friendly, but be careful when removing them to avoid accidentally stripping your wall.

When applying your wall decal, you'll want to be careful. If it's large, have multiple people helping to make sure it's applied straight without any bubbles. If you're looking for an elegant look, you may want to skip wall decals. They are stickers and have a glossy finish, so they can look cheap compared to their surroundings. Decals are best on light walls and in children's rooms.

Stencil Patterns on Your Walls

For when you're really in a DIY mood.

You can stencil your walls if you've got a lot of patience and time. Much like the other options on this list, it will give your room a one-of-a-kind feel because it's truly handmade. This will bring an elegant and classy look to your room. It's like wallpaper, but you can easily paint over your stencils if you want to change them.

Choose a pattern you like, pens, and get to work. You can do them on all walls or create an accent wall to help the designs stand out. It's sustainable because you can reuse the stencils time and time again, and if you have multiples, more than one person can work at a time to speed the process up.

Stenciling your walls is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time, effort, and precision work. Your hands may start to cramp, and you'll have to start all over if you change your mind. Still, the end justifies the means, so you'll have a stunning room if you can follow through.

Decoupage on a Grand Scale

A popular pick if you're into hipster chic.

If you're crafty, you may want to consider decoupaging. This option is a little out there, but it can yield cool results. Grab pages from a newspaper, love letters, maps, favorite books, sheet music – anything that fits your aesthetic – and start sticking.

You can arrange them however you want, taping them to get the desired results. Once you're finished, you can leave it like that or add a finish if you'd like a more vintage look.

If you already own the products, setting up a collage on your wall won't cost anything. Even if you have to purchase supplies, they will be a fraction of the other options. Consider going to used book stores or thrift stores to make it even more cost-efficient. Decoupaging your walls is an interesting and artistic choice that will start many conversations. No room will look quite like yours – and that's a good thing.

If you're looking for a long-term solution, papering your walls may not be your best bet. Over time, the edges will start to peel, and the paper will start to yellow. The wall can look messy and unorganized if eclectic isn't your vibe. Depending on the size of your wall, you may spend a lot of time collecting, organizing, and arranging the assets before you even get the chance to stick them.

When All Else Fails, Paint It!

Why fix what isn't broken?

Paint can change the room's entire vibe – even if you're just adding one accent wall. There are many colors, finishes, and patterns from which you can select. Painting is a traditional choice for decorating any space, and it can be as bold or neutral as you like it. Swatch a color before painting the entire room to ensure you like it.

You'll want to estimate between $200 to $300 per standard size room for paint and materials. However, the actual pricing will vary based on the type of paint, the size of the room, the materials needed, and so forth. Regardless, it's still more cost-efficient if you have the time and steady hand to paint yourself. It will cost more – probably almost double – if you hire a professional.

Paint can be a little boring, so if you're looking to add visual interest to a space, you may want to go with another option. While you can add basic patterns, it's difficult to capture the intricate patterns that wallpaper can without serious skill. Painted walls are typically limited to one to two colors maximum, and the more complex the job, the more it will cost.

The Last Word on Wall Décor

There are so many ways to bring life to a room that you don't have to use wallpaper if you don't want to. Even on a strict budget, you can transform your space with a bit of time and energy.

Posted by Melissa Jackson

Melissa is passionate about all things home and garden, helping others to fashion their dream home one space at a time. An avid reader, when she’s not writing, you can find her nose deep in a book, cuddling with her two dogs.