A step-by-step guide to painting your own wallpaper

When it comes to decorating a room, there are various ways to spruce up your walls.

You can paint them, you can wallpaper them, you can have a bit of both – or you could try painting your own wallpaper!

If you’re after something that little bit different when DIY decorating, then our ultimate guide to wallpaper painting is just what you’ll need.

Read on for full instructions.

The expert: Laura Ashley head of design Helen Ashmore knows a thing or two about hand-painting your own wallpaper. Although it may be difficult, she promises it’s rewarding, too.

The problem: Even if you already have wallpaper in your home, experimenting with a hand-made look can be that added statement that sets your property aside from the Insta crowd – even if you start in the downstairs loo.

What you need

  • Paintable wallpaper
  • Good paint brushes
  • A water-based matt emulsion paint

Step-by-step instructions

1. Plan

Hand-painting your own wallpaper is a mighty task, so it’s important to plan carefully.

Consider what room you will be decorating, how the design will match your existing furniture, and what colour palette you are looking to use.

Create a mood board to help visualise your planning. Think about the size of the room, too. It is better to go for a lighter colour in a smaller room so the space still feels light and airy.

Equally, it’s important to consider how much natural light the room gets. It is all very well selecting a darker colour scheme but come winter, you might have wished that you had chosen a slightly lighter colour palette to make the space feel warm throughout the year.

2. Prepare

Not all walls are a smooth surface for painting on, so make sure your walls are prepped and ready.

A Canvas Paintable Wallpaper can be used as a base to provide a plain but textured paintable surface. For a geometric print, opt for the Mr Jones Paintable Wallpaper. Be sure to tape off skirting boards and sockets.

This stage always takes a little longer than anticipated so be patient as you don’t want to find yourself having to take off wallpaper and start again because you forgot to smooth over a section of the wall.

Invest in a good step ladder to reach the top half of the wall with ease.

3. Paint

The big moment. Start in one corner and work your way up using even brush strokes.

If you don’t feel as confident about your brushwork, why not try a stamp or stencil to create your design?

Depending on the scale of your design, keep stepping back to check its looks how you pictured it.

Again, factor in the natural light that comes into the room. Paint a small section before embarking on the whole room in one go.

Check in at different points of the day (or even over a couple of days) that you are happy with the colour and pattern in different lights.

4. Perfect

Now add the finishing touches. Consider final pops of colour and align your furnishings to complement the design.

Create more of a ‘statement’ wall by choosing a bolder pattern or colour on one of the walls. Or leave one of the walls a neutral colour to avoid the space feeling too crowded, particularly if you are planning to create a gallery wall.

5. Plan B

Not everything always turns out the way we imagine it. If the project doesn’t go quite to plan, you don’t need to go completely back to the drawing board.

Try ‘shopping your home’, moving furniture around or adding a lamp or furnishing to bring out a different colour (and perspective) to the space – you’ll be amazed how different you can feel about the room.

Though of course, if you do want to start over, Laura Ashley boasts 250 printed wallpaper styles – so there are plenty of options for your Plan B!

Top tips for making your own wallpaper


When choosing a wallpaper, consider the style of the room you will be decorating, ensuring the design will match the furniture, window treatments and flooring. Take time to decide on a style that is correct for you.

Colour palette

When deciding on a colour, refer to the palette of the rest of the decor within the space. Colour is one of the most important aspects to your home. It can make a room feel warm, spacious, bold, and adventurous.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a design expert, it means choose your favourite colours and what you would love to see on your walls, whether that is cold blues or sunshine yellows. Go with your gut instinct.

Large versus small scale prints

Consider how you would like to dress the room. Do you want vibrant accessories that stand out, or for the wallpaper to make a statement? You will have to decide on the design.

Large-scale prints are perfect to create drama and flair in your space, while smaller prints will be great to bring some colour and break up the room.

Importance of texture

If you’re not a pattern person, wallpapers can also be ideal to introduce an element of texture. The Laura Ashley Paintable White Collection brings wallpaper to life through textured paintables, such as Mr Jones, which is a heritage geometric design from the Laura Ashley archive.

The wonderful thing about paintable whites is that you can use the wallpaper as a standalone white wallpaper or paint it in a colour to match your decor.

Measuring your space

Always measure how many rolls you may need prior to decorating. Do this by measuring the length and width of each wall to the nearest centimetre then look online to see how many rolls would be needed to cover this area.

Consider the pattern repeat when applying wallpaper, you will need to align each drop to ensure the pattern matches across the entire wall. You can do this easily using a useful wallpaper calculator tool online.

If you have a large room to cover, such as a living room, consider measuring one wall at a time and work out the total at the end.

Seamless application

All Laura Ashley wallpapers are ‘paste the wall’ application, making decorating far quicker, easier, and cleaner. Paste the wall is a simple and easy way to hang wallpaper and murals.

Laura Ashley wallpaper has a special backing, meaning it does not expand when wet. So, unlike traditional wallpaper where you need a pasting table, you can cut your decorating time in half as it hangs dry from the roll. Which also makes it easier to cut!

Additionally, it removes just as easily, for when you want to spruce up your home again.

Ensuring a smooth finish

Take time to consider what you are decorating: is it a whole room? If so, consider the lighting and start where the natural light shows, then continue the application away from there.

Is it a feature wall, or a central focus point, like a fireplace? If so, the first drop of wallpaper is crucial as all the other drops will align to it. From the left-hand side of your wall, measure 50cm and make a small mark – preferably with a pencil.

This will mark the beginning of your decorating. After creating the mark, draw a vertical line as a guide to hang the first drop of wallpaper. Then, you can continue to hang your wallpaper, taking time to measure and cut the wallpaper to ensure the correct length and the pattern sits correctly from each drop.

If you carry the wallpaper over the ceiling and skirting board slightly, you can trim the wallpaper in line with where the wall meets the edge. This will leave you with an even finish.

Preparation is key

For the best results, prepare the surface, filling in cracks in the wall and sanding these down to ensure a smooth surface for application. Then, clean the wall, with sugar soap, to ensure a clean application.

Application is not the end

Dust can easily go unnoticed and can leave your wallpaper looking faded or damaged. Dust your wallpaper every so often to ensure it is always looking bright.

When vacuuming, use the soft brush attachment, this does not damage the wallpaper, but collects the dust directly.

Time to say goodbye

Removing wallpaper is just as important as applying it, especially if you want smooth walls for redecorating.

Start by protecting any surfaces from water damage and turning off any electricity as you will be using water.

Mix warm water and washing-up liquid to a bucket and apply this mixture to the wall, starting at the bottom, using a paintbrush.

Wetting the wall twice will allow the wallpaper to absorb the mixture, and help to soften the paste that was applied when first applying the wallpaper.

Laura Ashley wallpapers are available at various stockists including Next.

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