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Faced with the now familiar dilemma of her work-from-home setup encroaching on the rest of her open-concept living room, Sally Smallwood did the one thing she could: She went to IKEA and bought a room divider. But while the collage artist’s emails were no longer staring at her after-hours, the plain black screen left a lot be desired on the design front. 

Smallwood has decoupaged canvases and plates galore, but it was only when she couldn’t look at the Risör screen any longer that a lightbulb went off: She could apply her skill set to its plastic panels. With the help of leftover Fine & Dandy Co. wallpaper from a previous collage project—Smallwood has always lusted after the old-world look of chinoiserie silk screens—her 9-to-5 solution is no longer an eyesore.

The Supplies

  • IKEA Risör room divider
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Rags
  • Small sponge roller
  • Primer (Smallwood recommends this one)
  • Black chalk paint
  • 2 rolls wallpaper of your choice
  • Cutting mat (a kitchen cutting board works, too)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • X-Acto knife
  • PVA glue (white or clear)
  • Flat-bristle craft brush (like this one)
  • Squeegee or credit card

Step 1: Prep and Prime

The divider comes preassembled. Wipe down each of the plastic pieces with an all-purpose cleaner, and be sure to thoroughly dry them with a clean rag. Coat the front of each piece with a plastic-suitable primer in order to help the adhesive stick better later on. Leave a few hours after painting so they can dry.

Step 2: Paint the Panel Backs

Because the plastic is a tad transparent, Smallwood painted each panel with black chalk paint, but any black paint will do—or really any color your heart desires. This creates a much cleaner, less blotchy finish.

Step 3: Trace Each Panel

Unroll your wallpaper with the pattern facing down and trace out the measurements of each square. Number the corresponding rectangles in order of how they’ll be glued onto the frame (Smallwood worked top to bottom). If you’re using a geometric or abstract print, you don’t have to worry about the numbering, but it’s crucial for keeping scenic print or large repeats continuous across the panels.

Step 4: Trim the Wallpaper

Cut out each square on a cutting board or mat using a ruler and X-Acto knife. It’s important to be as precise as you can so there won’t be little bits of plastic peeking out.

Step 5: Apply the Pattern

Apply a thin but generous amount of PVA glue (a more durable option than traditional craft adhesives) to the plastic. Carefully lay the corresponding wallpaper cutting on top. Use a squeegee or credit card and smooth it flat, working from the center outward. If there are any pesky air bubbles, lift up the wallpaper and reapply it; the glue won’t dry right away. Although it will fully set within two to three hours, allow the PVA to cure fully overnight. Put the divider back in its rightful spot. Emails? What emails?