When I was a toddler, after my twin sister had moved into her own room, my mother set about the task of redecorating mine. I don’t recall having any part in the decision-making, but I do remember stumbling in on the progress one day. Furniture was pushed around and the matching dinosaur-themed curtains and bedding were waiting to be placed. I remember being particularly fascinated with the matching wallpaper, though—a small border that went just around the top of the room and matched everything else. The process—what with the paste and the trays of water and the scraps everywhere and my poor exhausted mother—made me feel very fancy and special. My brother’s room had been decorated similarly years earlier—a matching dinosaur motif—so I figured that everyone got a dinosaur-themed bedroom when they passed a certain threshold into kid-dom. Except my sister. She got flowers. But she was a girl, so there.
Unlike my brother’s more realistic earth-toned dinosaurs, mine were bubbly and cartoon-ish, rendered in bright blues and aquas. My comforter and curtains were reversible with coordinating stripes on the opposite side, but I liked everything to match—all dinos, all the time. This was the early-90s, and I knew what was up in the world of high-stylin’ toddler interiors.
I grew to love that dinosaur pattern with an intense, unhealthy fervor, thrown into sharp relief the day we moved out of the house about 4 years later. I knew vaguely of the new family moving in, who had two little blond boys and seemed nice enough, but when the news rolled in that my prized curtains and wallpaper border had been part of the sale, I was blinded to all reason and left with only hatred in my heart and resentment in my bones. I wanted my curtains. I wanted my wallpaper. And more than that, I did not want anyone else to have them.
I hoped these people would up and decide not to buy the house after all, or at the very least, lose their kids in the mall. Without their children, they would no longer want the dinosaurs around to remind them of what once was and might have been, and we could all go on our merry way. Them, childless, sad, and alone, and me with my dinos. The natural order of things.
But it did not come to pass, and moving day found me clinging to the bottom hems of my curtains, wailing in protest as I stared up at the wallpaper border and tried to devise a way to remove it. The disappointing thing about being seven years old is that your full bodyweight and all of your strength isn’t a very powerful match to your father’s, but as I was dragged away, I pledged that I would someday come back for them. Even if I was 37, I’d knock on the door and go take what was rightfully mine, and I’d put up my curtains and my wallpaper in my room and everything would be right in the world again.
What I failed to understand at the time was that a) I’d get over it, b) that wallpaper isn’t all that easy to remove, let alone reuse, and c) that as a future renter in NYC, wallpaper would continue to be one of those things I could only dream of.
UNTIL NOW. We all know how much I love Lisa Congdon’s line of wallpaper at Hygge & West (also, everything else at Hygge & West, let’s be honest), so imagine my excitement when the folks at Hygge & West offered to let me sample their new line of removable wallpaper. You read that right. Removable! And, theoretically, reusable, which is pretty awesome too. Renters rejoice! I knew exactly where and how I would use it and which pattern I wanted—Lisa Congdon’s Triangles in the yellow/black colorway. This is so much better than cartoon dinosaurs, y’all.
This back wall of my kitchen has changed a lot over the past couple of years, from getting painted, the window getting salvaged wood moldings and a nice light-diffusing roller shade, and a new overhead pendant light. It’s a very small dining space, so a while ago we swapped out the round fake tulip-ish table and Eames chairs for this smaller set-up (the tabletop and legs are IKEA and the chairs are vintage Bertoia wire chairs). All of these things are huge improvements toward making this a (finally!) functional little dining space, but it was just feeling a little…dead. I debated painting just this back wall with a shot of bright color, but I thought a little graphic pattern (designed by one of my internet-friends, no less!) would be way better.
I was a little suspicious of the product, to be honest, but it’s pretty amazing. Each “tile” is about 2′ x 3′, which is the size of one full pattern repeat. They come in handy rolls with handy instructions on each one.
The best way I have of describing them is that they’re basically enormous vinyl stickers that look and act like wallpaper. The adhesive is made of 100% voodoo. It clings really well to the walls, but peels off easily and doesn’t leave any residue behind or damage the paint. The panels are very hearty and can be stuck down and removed multiple times (I moved the first panel a few times, just to get the positioning perfect) without compromising the strength of the adhesive or stretching/tearing the panel. It’s very cool.
The instructions suggested starting with the first panel at eye level, but I opted to start from the ceiling because it resulted in fewer cuts, and using entire panels was easier and more efficient. You can’t see the seams at all until you’re standing less than a foot away and looking for them, so it didn’t really matter where they fell.
This wall was a little extra-tricky because NOTHING about it is level or square, so I found it was easier to rough-cut the partial-panels (leaving about an inch of excess), stick them to the wall with the seams aligning, then remove the excess with an X-acto knife. Because of the huge window, the only full panels used were that vertical strip in the second process shot—everything else had to be cut down to size either at the edges of the moldings or at the corners of the wall. I just moved across the wall from right to left, ending in the opposite corner.
It takes a little concentration to get the seams to align and get everything looking snazzy and perfect, but the whole thing was pretty easy and painless and only took a few hours. It’s the sort of job that might be easier/faster with two people, but I did it myself because I got it* like that.
*zero patience, need for instant gratification, inability to work with others
OH HEY LOOK AT THAT. Pattern-y goodness forever and ever. I LOVE it. Like, more than I thought I would, more than I thought I could. I’ve never wallpapered anything before in my life, and I’m really thrilled with how this turned out. It makes the kitchen!
One thing I wasn’t really anticipating is that it makes our narrow kitchen (it’s only 7.5 feet wide) feel wider and more spacious, somehow. It also totally makes the dining area feel defined and like a real space instead of kind of an afterthought, like it did before. So exciting.
I know the baseboards still aren’t caulked and painted. I am aware. I am garbage. BUT LOOK, WALLPAPER!
I love reaching the end of our crazy long hallway and getting a little glimpse of this bright, happy pattern in the kitchen. I finally love how the kitchen is looking, even if it isn’t completely finished yet.
And hey, if you like this removable wallpaper idea, you might love what’s coming up next on the bloggy! (hint: rhymes with miveaway.)
This post is in partnership with Hygge & West.