The Best Removable Wallpaper for Rental-Friendly Renos
Peel-and-stick options so you can get your deposit back.
Published Jul 26, 2021 12:00 AM
Retro tile, ’90s cabinets, bland white walls—they’re just a few of the realities that most renters have to live (aka deal) with. Sure, you could refinish your countertops or paint every wall a new hue, all while keeping in mind that you’ll have to go back to white before moving out or give up your security deposit altogether. But there’s a simpler solution that can liven up your walls as quickly as it can be taken down: removable wallpaper.
Don’t sleep on this peel-and-stick alternative; a surprising amount of wall covering companies make design-y versions that you might even mistake for the real deal. Whether you’re out to make your entryway the star of the show with a golden-hued scene like designer Chiara de Rege did in her Manhattan apartment or you just want to cover a nook in a leafy print, here are the best removable wallpaper options to get you inspired.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Material and finish: Not all wallpaper is purely made from wood pulp. Surprise: Vinyl is the most common component and creates a satinlike finish; it is typically added as a top layer to help with water resistance, perfect if you have young kids who leave fingerprints on your walls or are looking to keep your bathroom walls free of streaky steam lines. A flat matte is the most popular finish and often associated with pure paper but more fragile, so handle with care; similar to paint, the shinier the surface, the tougher it is.
Roll size: The best removable wallpaper is as easy to put up as a sticker, but there is one caveat: determining just how much paper you need can be a bit of a challenge. Experts recommend ordering a tiny bit more for those just-in-case instances. After measuring the width of the wall(s) you’re covering up, divide that number by the width of the paper you’re ordering, however it is packaged. Typically sold by the roll—common sizes range between 20-to-36-inches wide by 18-to-20 feet—some options can also be purchased in panel or tile sections.
Our Top Picks
Make the most of a blank canvas with Chasing Paper’s Matisse-like shapes without having to cut the artist’s signature gouache-painted papers yourself. Created by the Missouri-based Ampersand Design Studio, you can choose from chartreuse to liven up your living room; subdued blue for a soothing powder room; or dove gray, which is ideal for any empty wall—there’s also a multicolored option that combines all three with additional hints of sage and blush pinks. Although tools aren’t exactly necessary, Chasing Paper recommends adding its install kit—complete with a pencil, a smoother (no bubbles or bumps here), and an X-Acto knife for cutting the straightest of edges—to every purchase.
Inspired by the Japanese art of ink washing, Tempaper’s marbleized waves offer a watercolor-like look for your walls without having to learn the ancient technique. Not to be confused with the faux stone contact paper used to quickly upgrade a vanity or countertop, this 24-inch vinyl-coated pattern is an elevated take in a navy blue color scheme that more closely resembles amethyst. Apply to a matte- or eggshell-finished wall for the best adhesion.
Love the look of botanical prints? Consider moving from the Midwest prairie lands to tropical coastlines with this updated palm from Chasing Paper. A subtle take on Dorothy Draper’s Beverly Hills–famous banana leaves, Ariel Okin’s contemporary twist on the traditional still delivers California hotel vibes but in a minimal 12-inch pattern sold by 2-foot panels—a small-scale pattern perfect for making a tiny space feel spacious. Printed with GreenGuard Certified latex inks and made from a poly-woven fabric, Chasing Paper offers one of the most natural peel-and-stick options on this list.
Get quirky with a beach theme by trading in white and blue Hamptons home stripes with a school of quirky blowfish in a smooth, matte finish. The large-scale pattern is a tasteful take for coastal interiors. Made to order in Los Angeles, give your home a marine makeover with an Eekan Bambangan–like depiction of this bubbly sea creature in several color options: either a monochromatic yellow, green, olive, blue, or a natural look to pop among a colorful pastel background.
At a quick first glance, you’d probably think nothing of this timeless take best suited for the walls of a Victorian bed-and-breakfast. But don’t let this classic pattern fool you into thinking it’s best kept to your grandparents’ guest room—Flavor Paper’s Brooklyn-themed pattern featuring the Notorious B.I.G., New York’s subway trains, and Coney Island offers a grungy underground upgrade for the traditionalist. We’re drawn to the unexpected palette pairing of mint and moss green, but a hotter red version can be found in the entryway of Beastie Boy Mike Diamond’s brownstone.
Lions and tigers and bears—and, yes, Gucci sorbet-hued cranes—move over. The Scalamandré zebras remain the reigning ruler of animal-themed wallpaper in our eyes. The traditional satin finish and brand-recognizable crimson are sure to fool all your guests into thinking you spent hours mixing the paste and applying the iconic panels by hand—when in reality all you did was peel off the backing and stick it in place.
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