No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Surprising Ways to Use Wallpaper

Kevin Sharkey
Executive Editorial Director Decorating, Home, and Style
Surprising Ways to Use Wallpaper

Think off the wall -- using wallpaper in unexpected ways can be stylish and fun.


Wallpaper has had many incarnations. The decorative wall covering gained popularity during Renaissance Europe amongst the social elite. It was a natural evolution of the large tapestries the gentry used to hang on their walls during the Middle Ages. Not only did these tapestries and later rolls of paper add visual interest, but they acted as an insulating layer between the cold stone walls and the interior of the room.


And while many may think that wallpaper is limited to papering the wall, I think some examples of the covering's most clever and impactful uses can be found on shelves, lamps, and many other places that 14th-century Europeans would've never dreamed of. Here are some ideas to inspire your own projects.


Wallpapering a door really adds a bright touch (see photo above). I love this idea! It's a great way to create an accent.



Even the most common items (the clipboard) can have an air of sophistication with the help of wallpaper. It's a great idea for small leftover scraps.


A wallpaper headboard is a more affordable and less bulky option for beds.


Here is another way to utilize a wallpaper border. It looks like this border was made for this lamp.



Add a splash of personality to a lackluster workspace by covering plain floating bookshelves with wallpaper.


Bring some pattern to your switchplates with wallpaper.


Wallpaper can dress up areas that are often underconsidered, like the closet.



Remember to play with scale and think outside the roll when decorating with wallpaper. It can be a fun and stylish way to express your style.

Kevin Sharkey
About the Author
Kevin Sharkey is Senior Vice President and Executive Editorial Director, Decorating, and Executive Creative Director, Merchandising for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSLO). A designer and all-around creative expert, he plays a vital role in shaping MSLO’s editorial content and product designs. Mr. Sharkey came to MSLO in 1995 from Parish-Hadley, a venerable New York ... Read More

Comments (3)

  • Rowaida Flayhan 6 Feb, 2014

    Hi Kevin, can you do a posts on decorating and furnishing a large space basement of a villa. Thank you

  • TrishEllenC 28 Jan, 2014

    Great wallpaper ideas! I especially like the border on the lamp and the back wall of the closet. I'm thinking about doing a door also. Thanks Kevin and good to know you're still blogging your great ideas. I'll be sure to follow your posts. Trish

  • Rowaida Flayhan 24 Jan, 2014

    Happy New Year Kevin! It is great to see you in a new phase. I am looking forward to learning and being inspired again in a different light. Wishing you a new beginning and a great success in all aspects.
    Best wishes
    Rowaida Flayhan