Marge Ely / Washington Post

This large adaptation of ribbon board is an adult-approved version of a dorm-room staple.

Alternatives to stencils or – ick – old wallpaper

Published: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 5CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012 - 6:42 pm

The kitchen in my childhood home has sported the same awful, ducklings-in- togas wallpaper for more than 30 years. (Don't even get me started on the pineapple-theme guest room.)

What seemed stylish in the early 1980s has turned into a perpetual reminder that wallpaper is a sticky situation. It's time-consuming to remove, leaves behind a messy residue and becomes outdated before you know it. White paint seems like a valid alternative, but we've got an even quicker and less-permanent way to combat blank white walls. Our homespun projects all took less than one hour to do, cost less than $50 each and can be removed with ease.

Diamond in the rough

Materials: Inch-wide ribbon, pushpins, scissors

This larger-than-life adaptation of a ribbon board is an adult-approved version of the dorm-room staple. We peppered ours with personal effects and prints, but, much like during college, feel free to experiment.

How to:

1. Starting in the upper left-hand corner of a wall, tack the end of a spool of ribbon with a pushpin.

2. Pull the ribbon tight and tack it on a slight diagonal to the bottom of the wall. Snip it with the scissors.

3. Tack the second ribbon parallel to the first. The narrower the distance, the more diamonds you'll get. (We spaced ours at about 1 foot.)

4. Stretch the ribbon to the bottom of the wall and tack it in place, making sure to keep it equidistant from its parallel pin.

5. Repeat until entire wall is covered, and then do the same starting from the upper-right corner.

Couldn't have thread it better

Materials: Nails, scissors, hammer, yarn, pencil, ruler

Don't be intimidated by this elaborate-sounding (yet foolproof) project: If you can tie your shoelaces, you're overqualified. All it requires are a few knots and simple materials.

How to:

1. Using a ruler and pencil, draw a series of letters spelling a word or phrase directly onto the wall. For time-saving purposes, you can do a Google image search for "alphabet stencils" and print and trim letters on heavy-stock paper to use as a guide.

2. Hammer the nails into the outline of each letter, leaving some of the nail exposed.

3. Tie yarn to one of the nails and begin winding it around each nail in a random manner until the entire letter is crisscrossed with yarn.

4. Knot off yarn and trim any excess.

Raster of your domain

Materials: Computer printer, tape

Rasterbation (we'll pause for chuckles) is a term used to describe a type of tiled printing. By magnifying an image and arranging it in a grid, you get mosaic-like results with a modern bent.

How to:

1. Find an image you love. It can be in gray-scale or color, and the larger the file the better. (We scored ours on

2. Download software. We recommend the Rasterbator for PCs (The-rasterbator. or PosteRazor for Macs (

3. Follow the directions to upload your image. Adjust the number of pages you'd like your final product to have.

4. Print the pages.

5. Trim any excess white space and tape them to your wall, using a level to ensure a straight line.

Not into hammer time?

Try the following non-DIY options:
• carries vibrant wall decals of all sorts.

• Cover walls with groovy temporary wall- paper from

• Affordable art from sites such as spiffs up blank space.

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