W allpaper is the hottest thing these days. This isn’t your grandma’s wallpaper either (no offense to your grandma) – the designs I’ve been seeing are amazing and bold and could really help the resale value of a house rather than tank it. I mean, just look at this gorgeous print from my idle, Anna Rifle Bond (image via Rifle Paper Co):

While this new-wave wallpaper is gorgeous, though, it is also expensive and not a project I’m ready to undertake in a rented apartment. Still, after some thought, I decided not to let these two facts become permanent road blocks. What if I could make my own wallpaper and plaster it up in a non-permanent way? As part of my resolution last month to finish making our house a home, I undertook this wallpaper project for a large, empty wall in our bedroom. One wall had received the gift of the dyed clothespins installation and the other wall was jealous.

Months ago, Bobby and I had stepped inside an art gallery/work space in Miami where one of the artists had some work in progress. Scraps of paper were pinned to the wall and I became more enthralled by some of these pieces than the completed art. The creator had been playing with images from magazines and had used paint and oil pastels to accent the pictures or words and abstractly draw other shapes on top. It looked fun and carefree and quick. I wanted to try the same technique. I begged Bobby to go to the art store with me where we picked up some cheap tempera paints and a set of oil pastels – seriously, nothing fancy or top-grade with these supplies.

It took me a few months to tackle this project, but once I did I went at it with a vengeance. As I’ve mentioned before, Anthropologie catalogs are a crafting lifeline for me. I use them to decorate packages, fold them into envelopes, and incorporate them into gallery walls. Thus, it probably won’t surprise you that the majority of the images I was planning to draw and paint on came from Anthro catalogs. It would have been disrespectful to do otherwise, really. A few of them also came from a TOMS catalog.

I pulled out TONS of images. It didn’t even matter if it looked like they were from a catalog with strange white spaces or item prices. That’s the beauty of this project: you can literally take something that you would normally discard and you can make it striking and beautiful. (Although I must say that’s the allure of an Anthro catalog – most of the pages are so artful that you wouldn’t know from first glance that it’s a publication that’s trying to sell things. Still, I could see iterations of this project being done with many other types of magazines – stuff with lots of text or that happens to have more bold graphics. Those images could look great, too.)

Then I just STARTED. I needed to fancy-up so many images that I knew I couldn’t overthink this or else it would take forever.

I would look at the image and then quickly do brush strokes and accents that emphasized some piece of the picture I loved or that added to the composition in some way. If it looked messy, that was even better.

If you struggle with perfectionism, may I suggest painting on some magazines? Literally ANYTHING goes with this project. There isn’t intense pressure of “getting it right” because your canvas was just torn out of a magazine on its way to the recycling bin. You can’t mess this up.

I relished in the imperfection of this project. It was a creative free-for-all. I hadn’t used oil pastels since grade school and it was SO SATISFYING to see the rich colors being scrawled on the paper. It felt like writing with lipstick, which is a delicious and decadent feeling.

I mixed up my use of pastels and paints with wild abandon.

I cranked out piece after piece. It didn’t take long for every flat space in our kitchen to be occupied with its own rectangle of colorful art. The paint had to dry before I could do anything with these, so I honestly ended up using the ENTIRE kitchen as a drying rack.

The top of Graham’s crate…

The kitchen counter…

On top of the stove…

I am not exaggerating when I say these were everywhere

In total, I painted and pasteled 108 images over the course of 2 days. I’ll admit, halfway through I was ready to move on to the next thing – but I pushed through, and I’m so glad I did! Come back tomorrow to see the installation process on our bedroom wall (and in the meantime, maybe you can start collecting some magazines to tear up and repurpose?!?).