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Style Tips: Paper. Everybody’s Doing It.

by | Mar 12, 2008 | Creative Inspiration & Projects, Decorating Inspiration, Details, Style Tips

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Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

Ok, now you know that I am not a big fan of copying trendy decor. As an illustration, just because everyone might have an owl hanging on their wall doesn’t mean I should too (those of you who were alive in the 70’s will understand this, owls were very in and then very out for 25 years and are now in again in some circles). I guess I like to have my own style rather than one that looks just like my neighbors. I have my owl, you have your owl, we all have our owls. If owls mean something to you, then use owls freely. Don’t let me stop you.

I am a fan of being inspired by others’ creativity, even if I am not a fan of specifically copying trendy decor. I think you can find a solution to a decorating dilemma by observing and interpreting others’ ideas through your own sense of style. There is a wealth of inspiration out there and most of what we do in our homes is not completely original anyway.

Lately we’ve seen a lot of people online using paper to solve decorating needs (see a related article by “Nester” at Blissfully Domestic). It is a time-tested, generally great idea so I am all for using it. From covering binders, to lining the back of shelves, to covering organizing drawers, paper of all kinds can solve problems! It can cover ugly things simply and inexpensively — that is a huge plus for me. Copy away on this sort of idea because you can make this type of project personal. An owl is always an owl, but paper can be personalized! (ok, are you sick of my owl illustrations yet? By the way, don’t be offended if you like owls. I have one leftover 1979 owl doorstop myself. I like owls.)

Scrapbook paper, maps, comic books, pages from books, fabric scraps, ephemera, kids school papers, kids artwork, drawings, sketches, letters, menus, playbills, wrapping paper, vintage sheet music, food labels, magazines, wallpaper, contact paper — use whatever you like to breath new life into furniture, to cover walls, create personalized artwork, basically to reinvent anything! Paper is relatively inexpensive and the ideas for it are endless.

Here are just a couple of quick photo examples from blogging friends and online magazines of ways to use paper, wallpaper or fabric scraps. Ingenious, inexpensive and practical. A WINNING COMBINATION!

Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

Above: Big Flair for the Buck

Backing shelves with scrapbook paper for added punch, via Nesting Place

Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

Above: Paper can transform inexpensive or unattractive objects

A Beautiful Abode (In the Trenches interview with drawer idea by Tina)

Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

Above: Wine Label wallcovering (also see closeup in top photo)
You could use this idea with postcards, sheet music, menus, whatever means something to you.

Laurie W. Glenn Cottage Living

Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

Above: Fabric Framed Artwork (fabric scraps or any kind of paper would work)

The Feathered Nest – Manuela

Style Tips: Paper. Everybody's Doing It.

You can use wallpaper or parts of wallpaper in fresh ways much more inexpensively than covering entire walls. Cut out patterns to put on walls like stencils or cover shelves or parts of furniture for a customized look. I have done this sort of thing in the past and found it to work really well. It is a bit tedious, but worth the effort.

{images: Living etc. February 2008; photography by Mel Yates; styling by Portland Mitchell}

via This is Glamorous

Go forth and be inspired to use paper in new ways!

Do you have great ideas for using paper to decorate?


  1. Liberty Post Editor

    The possiblities are endless aren’t they? It is exciting to think of all the things you can do with paper images. In particular, I like the fact that anyone can create wall art inexpensively. That’s cool.

  2. Esther Sunday

    Been seeing alot of it as well. I love it! There are soooo many wonderful paper type stuff out there these days!

  3. nannykim

    Quite interesting and some are somewhat strange! I have to end by saying Whooowhoooo (owls, ya know)

  4. Catherder

    Im hooked on scrapbook papers (I dont scrapbook) but I use them in my mixed media stuff, and in my jewelry

  5. Holly

    Very nice ideas. I have yet to use paper much but I think maybe I might have to give it a whirl!

  6. Leanne

    We decorated the girls dollhouse with scrapbook paper, and the floors with foam and felt. :P

    I’ve printed a poster (12 – 8 1/2×11 sheets) of a lake/mountain view in Connemara, Cork County, Ireland and pasted it to the wall – then built a window frame around it with open shutters on either side and a ledge for knick-knacks. I loved it. I used a large sheet of plexi for the “window” and balsa wood to divide the pane and conceal the seams.

  7. rosieswhimsy

    This something I am definitely going to do. I saw Nestor’s post and thought it was wonderful!. What a good way to make things pop. Thanks for all the great examples of how this can be utilized! :-) Rosie

  8. Emily-Sarah

    I remember owls! My mind is absent this morning so I cannot remember the right term, but remember the rug hooking/looping (hook rug?) that was popular in the late 1970s, early 80s? Well, when I was in elementary school, I lovingly completed a fuzzy, plush owl design. My parents were kind enough to frame it (and I still have it, though unlovingly tucked away in the storage room).

    I agree about not wanting to jump completely on the trend wagon — 100% conformity equals too much sameness AND then you so quickly have something very dated once the next style wave washes through.

    I’ve been using wallpaper to line drawers and hidden shelves for a long time, and you’re right: It’s a perfect way to add your own touch.

    As always, thanks for sharing and inspiring us!

  9. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    Lots of great ideas! Somewhere on my recent travels, I saw wallpaper being used on stair risers. It looked great. Not sure how long it would last…

  10. Hooked on Houses

    Wow. Some interesting ideas here. It’s one of those things I’d find “too busy” to live with myself (can’t handle all that pattern) but would admire in other peoples’ homes. So creative.

    That bathroom with the wine labels looks like something I think Hildi did on “Trading Spaces.” Does anyone remember that episode? I think it was a kitchen. And it turned out the house was for a minister and his family who were against drinking. Oops.

    You cracked me up about the owls. I’d forgotten about those! Someone in my family jumped on that trend and filled the house with them when they were the thing. I wonder what happened to them all? Did they fly away? -Julia :-)

  11. deserae

    WOW…who knew you could do so much with paper?!?!?!?! You’d have to drink a LOT of wine to do a decent size bathoom…that could be fun!!! LOL

  12. Eva Wallace

    Handmade paper would be fantastic for some of those projects! You know – the ones with bits of leaves and flowers in them? There are so many beautiful ones available now.

  13. The Nester

    What an intelligent post! How come when I write it never comes out so…clearly and all perty like?

    I remember some of my mom’s sisters had all of that owl stuff and I used to be afraid of them and their big scary eyes!

  14. The Nester

    OH…Hooked on Houses (hi, remember me?) Yes, that was the ONLY episode of trading spaces that I ever saw! I was so mad that they still used those labels even though the friends of that pastor assured the designer that that would not suit their lifestyle!!!! What a waste!!!

  15. Terri Steffes

    Hello! I have been AWOL lately as I get ready for our daughter’s wedding. I wanted to stop in and I can see that was a mistake as I want to just snuggle down and read all these inspiring posts! I did see the wine label bathroom…toooo cool.

  16. Lisa

    My love of fabric is only rivaled by my obsession with patterned paper-lol.

    Great post!

  17. Jrizzo

    I totally agree! In fact I just idd my china cabinet with scrapbook paper on my recent blog post.I know a lot of people do that but I disn’t want to paint it, so it was a great way for me to personalize it without changing it so much! The label room is very cool and I love that red wall paper!
    Jen R

  18. Penny

    Wonderful ideas! I have seen some bloggers use paper to decopauge eggs, dress forms, and more.

  19. Pat

    Great post Melissa!

    I’ve often thought of covering foam core with fabric, for the back of the cabinet in our hearth room. I may do it yet…or then again, I might try the paper idea!


  20. dawn

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the owl analogy. My mom collected then, she collects now (she did not notice the 25 years of the non-owl-trend.) I will go to bed tonight cracking up over this!

  21. Elzie

    I understand what you mean. I was a newly mother in the early 70ies and I loved to have those green, orange, brown and whatever colors everywhere. Brrr!! Maybe that’s why I don’t like it now LOL. And all these wall papers with big patterns on. Never in my life I will have them again.
    Hope you have a good Friday.
    Love Elzie

  22. Natasha Burns

    Melissa, I love all these paper ideas. I sometimes use anaglyptic paper too, I intend to cover a door of a cupboard with it… doubt I will get that job done though!
    I thought of another one you might like to see – Karla of Karla’s Cottage has used vintage wallpaper on her stairs, on the upright part of each step that you see from the bottom (if that makes sense?)

  23. Hooked on Houses

    Hi, Nester! I’m glad Im not the only one who remembers that episode of Trading Spaces. It WAS such a waste. The minister’s family ripped all those wine labels down the minute the TV crew left…. -Julia

  24. Rachel Going

    Those are great ideas for using the paper…the wine label bathroom wall is unbelievable. I don’t have any owls! (smile) Have a wonderful day.

  25. Lynda

    Thanks for some new ideas, Melissa! I love the framed toiles. ~ Lynda xo

  26. jen

    Talk about inspiring? That first photo and last one did the trick for me! Thanks!

  27. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    The list just goes on and on with using these gorgeous papers that are so readily available to us. Great ideas! Thanks, Miss Melissa!

    cuddles to Winston,

  28. A Fanciful Twist

    Oh how I loooove Paper!!!!! Hi Miss M!! I can’t see al the photos, for some reason, but I love that last two!! That red!!! Happy happy Warm Springy weekend!!! xoxoxo

  29. Polly

    Hi Melissa. I loved those small drawers! I like to use paper to cover things… when I have time =) I’m a huge fan of paint and old paper. They can make huge changes without costing alot. Vintage wallpaper is sooo yummy! Anyhow, today is Friday Flea Market and I’m exhausted so I thought I’d relax and read some blogs. Hope you have a great weekend! Blessings… Polly

  30. Renee

    Wow! So many ideas, so little time. LOL Thanks for all your lovely posts. I come here with my cup of tea to drool often. Love it all!

  31. marita

    such great ideas with scrapbook paper!!
    i just love the cupboard with the white ceramics and the perfectly matching paper in the background!!
    so many creative ways to decorate with paper like colorful (paper napkins) collages on trays and shelves that i’ve seen in france last year. although the idea is plain simple they were pretty expensive though!!

    have a great weekend melissa!

  32. Christi from Charm & Grace

    I must say that I am roundly “inspired” by so much of what you share with us. I must find a place for my favorite papers! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend away from the keyboard… since I do our church’s PowerPoint pres. each week, I don’t get most weekends away. But after working on Charm & Grace articles all last weekend, this one feels virtually computer-free in comparison. :)


  33. Melissa in Mel's World

    Fabulous ideas…I LOVE the wine labels in the bathroom. I think I would love to do something like that withpost cards, book covers, favorite scriptures on antique linen paper.

    Oh my gosh…I actually got creative!!!! Scary…Melissa, I think your creativity is rubbing off on me!!! SCARY!

    Love it!
    Melissa in Mel’s World

  34. (((((HUGS)))))  sandi

    I’m hopin’ to totally map out my bathroom by using them as wallpaper. First I hafta acquire them~LOL~but I love these ideas! I also would like to use a pretty floral on the vertical part of my stairs…. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  35. megan duerksen

    hey melissa i hope you had a wonderful trip. i was gone and too and never missed my blog once. :)
    i love the wine labels in the bathroom. i don’t drink wine….maybe i could cover a wall with starbaucks labels???

    and the red wallpaper is so cool! that is inspiring. i have never seen that before.

    can’t wait to hear about your trip.

  36. parisapartment

    I have to send this to my parents! They did it on our cellar door and a wall in the kitchen in the 70’s thru the 80’s label by label…it still looks great!

  37. this is glamorous

    You’ve provided such a great range of images and ideas–very inspiring, indeed. The wine labels were definitely something I’d never considered, and I’m not certain how I feel about the over-all look, but I love the creativity behind it. Papering the backs of shelves and creating an accent panel, however, are two ideas I love.



  1. Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper - [...] and personal to you. So, since we discussed the use of paper for decorative purposes a previous Style Tips…

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