DESIGN BY RESCUE | Newsworthy Wallpaper



This fabulous DIY wallpaper treatment came from a high-end Italian furniture catalog of all places. A $6,000 plus Italian-crafted bed set against a wallpaper of newspaper that costs–if recycled, almost nothing.

How to Fab Your Walls

It’s all about experimenting with what you’ve got. Look around your space, or a friend’s. You can use almost anything:

  • Pages from an old book: I couldn’t sell back my outdated Norton Anthologies, so I’m prepping those wafer thin pages to cover a column in 17th century poetry. There’s like, 2000 pages in all.
  • Postcards from the edge: If you’re someone whose friends and family travel to ooh-la-la places and send good pics, use them.
  • Greeting cards: Sort them by dominant color, (cut them up if you’re not sentimental) and create your own David Hockney-esque masterpiece
  • CDs/DVDs: You don’t really need that outdated Windows Install CD do you? Declutter as you design by taking those cast-off CDs from home and the office and paint them to create a geometric border or wall treatment. It will look like, totally groovy.
  • Sheet music: So lyrical and artsy
  • Office swag: If you’re the type to bring work home, why not do something cathartic with those oh-so-colorful TPS reports? Or try the Business Card Art Wall idea we posted earlier.

How to Make it Removable

If you’re a renter or a design chameleon it’s easy to make this treatment lease-friendly by using double-sided tape. Elmer’s Glue mixed with water is earth-friendly to boot because it’s non-toxic, removable with sponge and water and biodegradable.

Show Off Your Inner Warhol

Weekend warriors: e-mail us your photos of your fabulous wall makeover. If we like it, we’ll make you famous. Or at least give you kudos!


15 Responses to “DESIGN BY RESCUE | Newsworthy Wallpaper

  1. 1 Adrian

    Hey just stopping by to get my dose of green info. Always good stuff here! Love it. I know I have mentioned this site before but I think they are pretty cutting edge so I wanted to share this page:

    I was hoping that someone could drop me a link of other reports that might tell us about how much time is left before we can’t fix global warming? has a pretty could article here but I want some other opinions. Man just think how the bad will be if we don’t prevent this. EarthLab has quite a few tips on how to lower your impact, here is a spot where they list what their readers recommend:

    Thanks a lot for all your info and drop me a link if you guys see anything on these subjects.

  2. Great idea! I have used postcards to brighten up old furniture but hadn’t thought of using them on the walls like that.

  3. Hi Juliet,

    Do you have pics of your postcarded furniture? Would love to see!


  4. 4 Chris Gray

    I have been looking for biodegradable glue, and was under the impression that Elmers glue is a PVA glue and is not biodegradable. Can you send or post any further information regarding your information on Elmers glue?

    Thanks – Chris

  5. Hi Chris,

    I just checked the Wikipedia site and you’re right — they do use petrochemicals now. They used to be milk-based. Boo.

    Here’s another idea my mother taught me once when I had run out of glue in elementary school: rice glue (paste really). Cook up a cup of rice (short grain works best, not Uncle Ben’s). Mix with water to make a paste. It worked for my papercrafts, but it’s tricky as it can be lumpy unless you really break it down.

    Any other ideas out there?

  6. 6 Jen

    I’m wondering how your Norton anthology project turned out. Specifically, how does that super-thin paper look when it’s been wetted with the glue mix? I’ve got at least three (maybe four!) of those puppies and would love to put them to good use.

  7. Jen,

    You know, I haven’t yet done it because it’s up in the air whether I’m moving apartments. But, it works a lot like paper mache I’d imagine. If you want a clean look like in the photo, I suggest mixing the glue in lightly — the pages are not in need of heavy-duty adhesive.

    If you’re not concerned about it being super permanent, you can try acid free glue sticks.
    For a smooth finish, I’d also recommend using a brayer as you apply them, to clear out any air bubbles.

    Send us a pic if you end up giving this a try! 🙂

  8. 8 Becky

    Elmer’s Glue when it was milk-based as essentially milk and an acid. I’m not sure what sort of acid would be effective (perhaps start with something mild like vinegar), but you might try using powdered milk instead of regular to reduce spoiling.

    Also, cloth tapestries (or just fabric remnants) can make great wall coverings.

  9. Cool idea.
    When I was in high school I covered one wall in my room entirely with photographs of me and my friends. It was my wallpaper-art of sorts. Until I moved out and had to remove all the tape…. lol

  10. Jessica,

    Love it. I used magazine photos when I was in high school. 🙂

  11. 11 Danny

    Great ideas, I might try my local paper and use important events in my area. Another good source is CD and Album artwork. I used CD artwork as a waisthigh border in my sitting area and hung a few old LP’s and 45’s on the wall instead of pictures.

  12. 12 Simon

    If one wants a more permanent paste solution, and is “green,” try wheat paste.

    Definitely roll out bubbles, as mentioned. Also seal it with some type of fixative so it can be cleaned as needed.

    Norton Anthologies _do_ have extremely thin paper, so I’d recommend using them on very smooth walls. For walls that are more bumpy or imperfect, try heavier stock paper–like that of The Harvard Classic series. That’s some seriously weighty stuff, stock-wise and thought provoking. Harvard Classic volumes can be readily and cheaply found at tag sales, thrift stores, library sales (exceptional choice for paper arts!), and the like.

    I’ve lined my kitchen shelves with newspaper, like they did in the “good old days.” (I figure if I live in a house built a hundred years ago, I can at least attempt to decorate on a reuse, recycle, reduce basis.)

    To which, I am planning to copy a idea I saw in the New York Times a few weeks ago. A decorator used a variety (size, color) of tinned food lids and bottoms to attach to a wall, as a free-form mosaic. It was splendid. I plan to cover the entire ceiling of my kitchen to similar effect.

    Brilliant site. Thanks for the ideas.

  13. What a fabulous idea! Seriously, I’ll think twice before tossing the paper. Great post! I’m a new fan!

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