How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comThis was actually a reader request post, and I thought it would make an amazing topic to discuss today. Wallpaper can be costly and it might seem like a daunting selection (and maybe even installation) process, but I’m here to help you choose the right paper for your home. Click through for some quick facts, comparisons, and my thoughts on all things wallpaper! I didn’t realize just how many spaces I’ve wallpapered until compiling this post. Obviously I’m a fan… 

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

Permanent or Removable?

First, let’s chat about our wallpaper options. There are typically two types of wallpaper- permanent and removable. Permanent papers usually require paste or an adhesive, while removable wallpaper (also called peel-and-stick) applies to the wall like a decal and can be peeled away at any given time without damaging the wall (although spot testing is recommended). Let’s go over some pros and cons for each to determine what type of paper would best fit your home.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comPermanent


  • durable
  • great longevity
  • looks more custom
  • more options


  • some may find installation more challenging
  • permanent solution, if you change your mind
  • cannot be easily removed
  • more expensive

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comRemovable


  • simple installation, no paste required
  • non permanent solution, great for renters
  • quick and easy
  • pattern repeat is often easier to align


  • not great longterm
  • can stretch or warp during installation
  • feels lower end
  • fewer options

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comI tried to keep this section short and sweet, so please let me know if you have any questions! The two types of wallpaper couldn’t be more different. I’ve found that permanent wallpaper is perfect for ceilings, dining spaces, bathrooms… basically “finished” rooms you plan to love for a long time. Whereas peel-and-stick paper is wonderful for kids rooms & nurseries (that they will eventually grow out of), rentals, and short term solutions.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

Choosing a Pattern & Color

Once you’ve decided on permanent or removable paper, now for the tricky part… choosing a pattern & color. There are a TON of options in the world of wallpaper, so how do you go about narrowing down the perfect paper for your home? I’ll share my thought process below..

  • Am I looking for longevity? If so, choose a paper that is classic and timeless, rather than trendy. Think neutral colors, simple patterns, and something you could see yourself loving for years to come. In my guest bath, pictured below, that was a large, yet subtle floral patterned paper.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

  • Where will the paper be installed and what surrounds it? This is very important! If you’re installing wallpaper in an already busy room, you might opt for a subtle wallpaper. If you’re installing wallpaper on the back of built-ins (like our formal living room, pictured below)… maybe something simple and textural for contrast, like grasscloth, is your best bet. Be sure to consider how the room functions, how bold you’re willing to go, and how it plays with the existing architecture and decor.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

  • Geometric or organic? If your space already has a lot of sharp lines, hard edges or a masculine aesthetic, an organic pattern might be a nice contrast and vice versa.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

  • What type of scale best works in the space? Do you have extra tall ceilings? A tiny pattern would easily get lost, so going with a larger scale would be more appropriate. Be sure to consider the environment in which the paper will live and how the scale will translate once it is installed. I wallpapered the ceiling in our previous hallway, pictured below.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

  • How much wallpaper do you need? Are you covering a small area- like the back of a bookcase, or are you wallpapering an entire room? Perhaps an accent wall is what you had in mind (like Jacqueline’s nursery, pictured below)? I’d recommend doing the math and calculating the cost based on your square footage. Wallpaper can add up more quickly than you might expect and running short is never fun.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comOnce you’ve asked yourself the tough questions and weighed your options, ORDER A SWATCH prior to committing. Wallpaper is a lot like paint- you really can’t know for sure the exact color or scale until you see it in person. Given wallpaper can be spendy, it’s always safe to order a swatch before you hit the buy button.

Once you’ve ordered a swatch and you’re finally ready to commit- be sure to account for overage and pattern repeat.

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping -

When & Where to Apply Wallpaper

Wallpaper can really live anywhere… on the ceiling, inside panel moulding, in a bathroom, etc. I’m making a list of areas I enjoy seeing wallpaper below:

  • the ceiling
  • framed in panel moulding
  • the powder room
  • the water closet
  • a bedroom
  • lined drawers and furniture interiors
  • the closet
  • the linen closet
  • the dining room
  • the hallway
  • built-ins and other architectural elements
  • the entryway or staircase
  • a home office
  • the laundry room
  • the bathroom
  • the living room
  • … pretty much anywhere!

How to Navigate Wallpaper Shopping - roomfortuesday.comI know wallpaper can be intimidating, but it really adds character and personality to a home! If you have any questions about selecting wallpaper, installing wallpaper, or my thoughts on a specific paper… I’m all ears. Let me know in the comment section below. I’m happy to help! There are SO many beautiful options, it can be difficult to choose, but I hope this post will help you hone it in. Is anyone feeling particularly inspired to install some wallpaper someplace in your house now? I’m not going to lie- I am! Looking back at all of these old photos has me craving more pattern and texture. You can see some of my recent favorites below…

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  1. Wallpaper! *Insert dramatic exasperation* I’m currently contemplating wallpaper for two different spaces, but the expense and limitless options really are daunting! How did I not know that Wayfair carried wallpaper? Schumacher? Good to know that I have basically been considering all of the points you mentioned in my lengthy and tortured process. Adding even more color and pattern will undoubtedly make me happy, so I should just do it already! Thanks for the inspiration, sources and advice. Now I just need focus.😉 Happy Friday Eve!!

    1. You are?! That’s so exciting! What spaces? I’ve learned Wayfair pretty much has anything and everything… and you can definitely score designer brands- it just takes some digging. I know all about your lengthy and torturous process, but stay true to it and you’ll be happy in the end :) Especially knowing you’ve weighed every single option. Happy Friday Eve! It’s cloudy here today, so in addition to work- my goal is to clean up our interior a bit. I’ve been spending so much time outside these days, I’ve neglected the inside of our house. Argh. xo

  2. Every time I read one of your design advice posts I want to give you a standing ovation. They are always well considered, researched in depth, easy to understand yet thorough, beautifully written and presented. Cheers, Ardith

    P.S. Bonus points to Peggi for “Friday Eve.”

    1. Aw thank you so much, Ardith! My main goal here aside from entertainment and community is education, so I’m hoping someone will find this post helpful someday. Happy Friday Eve to you! Have a great day :) xo

  3. Well now…this one is my conundrum. I think about wallpaper and I remember endless late nights watching my mom wallpaper our living room, and then the bathroom, and then our room…It all turned out well, and looked amazing, but after having to remove some pretty heinous wallpaper in our previous home I’m reluctant. I do love the mix of textures and colors that wallpaper brings to a space! And I would definitely go for a peel and stick to see if it’s something I’d want to incorporate. My other challenge with wallpaper is that it’s either overly masculine in terms of prints, or overly feminine. There seems to be no wonderful in between that I’ve found. But I’ll definitely be putting some in our hallway linen cabinets because I love the look of that grass cloth in your built ins! I love that your take on design and inspiration pushes me to try things or consider elements that I may have otherwise not considered. Tha k you for rounding up all of this crazy helpful information! Happy Friday Eve to the entire Gibson Tribe! What’s on the docket for the weekend? (Or am I thinking too far ahead?) Ooooh! Almost forgot! We did a little fireplace facelift last night; definitely not the permanent solution, but guys, it looks SO much better! We painted the ugly gold stripes across the top and bottom of the doors, and gave the metal panels of the insert a fresh coat; all matte black. I think I can live with it for a few years until Jeff let’s me take a sledgehammer to it😂🤣

    1. Lauren,
      Having removed a fair amount of hideous wallpaper myself (think dancing bears, cattails and hunting scenes🤢), I understand your trepidation. I consider any wallpaper choices I make to be my gift to the next owners.🤣 Cheers to your mini fireplace update; I’ve got one I’d also like to sledgehammer…

    2. Haha! You’ve been scarred for life, Lauren. Joking!! I think a lot of people are jaded who have had similar experiences. I remember helping my grandma remove and install new wallpaper- which I thought was the most fun thing ever! You’re right though- there isn’t a lot of middle ground when it comes to masculine and feminine. This weekend we’ll probably tackle more work outside. I need to clean our entire house- the inside is not looking too tidy these days. Your fireplace facelift sounds like a great solution- way to go! You guys have been so productive. Happy Thursday! xo

      1. Ahhh the never-ending chore of cleaning! I’ve been lagging it on that end what with all the projects lately; at some point I’ll have to prioritize that as well. Thank you for the encouragement! It’s so nice to have friends to chat with about projects and renovations! I hope your weekend is filled with sunshine and rejuvenation!

    3. High five on your fireplace facelift, Lauren! As Sarah commented, you guys are definitely on a roll with your projects. You more than deserve pizza Friday. Cheers, Ardith

      1. Thank you Ardith! I can’t believe the difference that it made! I almost pulled an oops…when we removed the doors the first thing I did was chuck the heinous wood handles in the trash-even though I had nothing to replace them with! Luckily for me, the cabinet knobs I ordered for the bathroom cabinets were too small to look great with the drawer pulls; they were just right for the fireplace though!! Totally saved me from spousal frustration! Jeff would have been SO mad hehehe…sometimes I have to force him into my master plan; he’s a resistant one! Cheers to the weekend Ardith! I hope the weather is beautiful for you!

  4. I have always admired your skill, eye, and talent for wallpaper and where to put it. Wallpaper has been something I have been wanting to tackle but haven’t….yet. You break this down so that anyone (like me) who has never decided on or hung wallpaper can make a decision. Of course, the biggest decision is which print?
    I saw a dog print on etsy and now I want to put this in our laundry room. I think that will be a great starting point. Have a great Thursday! Only one more day till Friday and the weekend!

    1. Thank you so much, Danna! I’m also a fan of dog prints. Any type of animal prints, really. If I didn’t have my pet portraits to hang in our future laundry room, I’d totally do dog wallpaper… but I think that may be overkill, and then people would really see what a crazy dog person I am. Haha! Have a wonderful Thursday… we’re SO close to the weekend :) xo

  5. Donna Pepper says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! We are 2 weeks from moving into an amazing house but it needs decor 911. It’s not my typical style so I’ve focused a lot on the huge entry way and living & dining rooms that flank that entry but have decided to go BOLD with wallpaper in the powder bath and coat room that are in that entry space too. Overwhelmed on how to start it what to pick until we get in. I am thrilled though that we are keeping the gorgeous cream in cream flocked dining room wallpaper! We will add a chair tail and paint the flocked paper block below and add wainscoting boxes. Fingers crossed it’s the look we hope! This article helped tons!

    1. Yay! I love hearing that, Donna. Congrats on your new home! I’m happy to hear you’re going bold- that’s amazing. So glad to hear this post was helpful. Your vision sounds beautiful!

    2. Oh, Donna, this is so exciting (and possibly decor 911 terrifying…until you are actually there and able to better prioritize projects)! Looking forward to hearing about the bold wallpaper you decide to go with. Can’t wait to hear more as you delve into your new home. Could there be a blog and/or YouTube channel dedicated to it? Fascinated folk are standing by. Cheers, Ardith

  6. Donna Pepper says:

    Oh! A question… I have never wallpapered a ceiling. Are there “rules” for deciding to do so? If you do a hallway ceiling, do you run the wallpaper down the center then add a strip on each side to get the full width? Or start against the wall on one side and work over?

    1. Great question, Donna! It totally depends on your space and the wallpaper pattern repeat. You have to consider how it will elongate the room if it’s geometric, and how the pattern centers on the ceiling. I’d recommend laying it out on the floor (to size) before installing it, to make sure you’ve visualized it appropriately. Hope this helps :)

  7. I’m considering a fun geometric print for a jack and Jill bath in our home! The small room has 3 doorways and only one wall that is floor to ceiling without something (a doorway or the shower walls) cutting into the wall so some of the wall space is only 4” tall. Do I really need to go by the rule of thumb to calculate the square footage of the wall absent any obstacles? Or, since the pattern is repeating, can I theoretically bank on using overage on length instead of ordering 13 panels for a tiny bathroom??

    1. I love that, Gretchen! Great question- this totally depends on the pattern repeat. For example, the removable paper in our powder room has a very small pattern repeat, so I could’ve definitely subtracted the doors from total. The permanent wallpaper in our guest bathroom has a longer pattern repeat, so I needed to include the negative space to make it align. I hope that is helpful and makes sense! xo

  8. I love the look of the wallpaper above the mill work – how did you decide the height of the mill work to make it look proportional to each other?

  9. Molly Menezes says:

    This was very helpful. Thank you for writing it. Where is the ceiling wallpaper from that’s in your post?