Removable Wallpaper: The Temporary Trend That's Sticking Around

By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.  | 

Temp wallpaper
Tempaper's peel and stick wallpapers can beautifully accent a room and are as changeable as your moods. Shown here is the Leopard and Mocha design. Tempaper

"I want to spend many hours scraping an old floral print off my walls," said no one ever. Yet until recently, taking down wallpaper would mean either stripping it away from the wall then cleaning up the goo or worse, steaming, peeling and scraping the surface to get to the fresh wall beneath. The idea filled homeowners with enough dread that some opted to paint over wallcoverings.

Installing wallpaper was not much easier, requiring prepping with glue then booking and hanging before the glue dried. Underestimating shrinking during drying could lead to issues with alignment. Perhaps it was no surprise when this décor feature went somewhat out of fashion for a few decades. But wallpaper has made a comeback, and according to The Washington Post, the resurgence happened due to the rebellion of bloggers and Millennials.

Or could the recent wallpaper trend have a more material cause? Removable wallpaper sounds like a dream come true, but now it is also a reality. From Home Depot to Anthropologie, retail stores and online shops offer this quick, easy and commitment-free product to designers, homeowners and even renters who want to spruce up a room without spending a lot of money, giving up hours of time or entering into a long-term relationship. In fact, there are so many options in removable wallpaper, Elle Decor did a top 45 list.


How Does Removable Wallpaper Work?

This modern twist on a traditional design element is simple to install and even easier to remove, leaving no residue behind. Removable wallpaper requires no water and no prep. The back of the paper features a removable adhesive that is already on the product and allows for removal by peeling away from the wall or other surface without tools, steam or water. Although it is not waterproof, this vinyl-coated product is appropriate for wet areas.

"We've taken all of the trials and tribulations of traditional wallpaper out," says Julia Au, co-founder and CEO of Tempaper, a company that introduced removable wallpaper in 2008. After hundreds of years of people settling for glued-on wallpaper without questioning it, Tempaper was launched to fill "a need that didn't exist in the design community," according to the company's website. The founders, who had a background in set design, noticed that set decorators spent hours chipping away at wallpaper, going over time and over budget. The company decided there must be a better way and invented one.


How to Install and Take Down Removable Wallpaper

You don't need any special skills to put up removable wallpaper. All you have to do is peel off the back liner that protects the adhesive and apply each strip to the wall. The primed and painted surface should be clean and in good condition. Satin and semi-glass paints work best, according to Au. When applying to a wall, start at the top and work your way down, but there is nothing much to worry about. Because removable wallpaper is peel and stick, a crooked strip can be peeled off and reapplied.

Remove the wallpaper by reversing the process.

"You just start at the top corner and peel it off," explains Au. The wallpaper can stay up for many years and will still remove easily. She says that Tempaper has received reviews from people who installed the product 10 years ago and peeled it right off.


Current Wallpaper Trends

Removable wallpaper looks like its clingier cousin, and manufacturers are able to replicate many textures and metallics. That means grasscloth and damask designs can both be had in a peel-and-stick version. In addition to these traditional designs, current removable wallpaper patterns take on bold colors and prints.

"Nature and natural elements and textures are still playing a very big part in home décor," says Jennifer Matthews, owner and creative director for Tempaper. This includes leaves, florals and storytelling with animals. "The animal craze is happening, for sure."

Temp wallpaper
To capture the romance of a bygone era, Tempaper's Chinoiserie wallpaper (the Garden design shown here) is available in both metallic and non-metallic backgrounds, each design hand-painted by an artist in Shanghai.

DIYers can bring in cozy comfort with textures like burlap and denim. Oversized marbles, citrus fruits and dahlia florals are additional trending looks.

"Color in general is more lively than it has been in the past few years," explains Matthews. "People want joyful colors. I think it's really about the joyful interiors."

Now homeowners and renters alike can go bold on a whim without worry about the commitment.

"It's like fashion – you love something one season, and the next season you don't really love it anymore," says Au. "It's the modern version. Why would you use regular wallpaper when you can use removable wallpaper?"