This post was first published on my original blog format on November 17, 2014.
Today I’m going to share a very easy DIY project – one that I think is maybe my favourite DIY project ever. I feel like everyone should do this to their home, partly because it is so easy, but mostly because it was actually really fun and satisfying – and cheap! I wallpapered a couple of walls in our toilet with pages from a vintage French dictionary, and I love how it turned out. Toilets really don’t get enough love, do they? So why not make yours look pretty?
I’d seen people use book pages for DIY wallpaper before and when I saw it in person at my friend Carla from ’s old house, where she used vintage newspapers to wallpaper this feature wall in her ensuite, I fell in love with the idea even more.
When Carla and her husband Ben were renovating the old Art Deco house on their block, they discovered all these old newspapers. “We found hundreds of 1955 newspaper sheets under the linoleum,” says Carla. “We salvaged these and used them for paper flowers at our wedding and most recently as wallpaper in our dresser and ensuite. It is stunning and the soft brown colour of the sheets adds real warmth to the room.” What I love most about it is the old advertisements that now seem so quaint.
Recycled wallpaper is fun and quirky – and costs next to nothing, so it appealed to my budget decorating tightarse side (in full swing since our honeymoon).
You don’t have to use pages from a dictionary obviously. I’ve seen pictures on of it done with use maps, music sheets, newspapers, magazine pages (ooh, now I’m thinking vintage equestrian magazines would be cool) comic book pages, children’s storybooks, album covers, family photos (scanned and printed).
But I have always been a sucker for lovely old books and when I saw a tattered vintage French dictionary at a secondhand market, straightaway I thought it could make lovely wallpaper. The pages were just so beautiful and the little illustrations so quaint. The man selling apologetically told me it wasn’t in the greatest condition (the binding was loose and the cover hanging off) and said I could have it for three dollars. Sold! Bargain wallpaper.
Now I know there are people who cry blasphemy about ripping up old books, and I actually do understand where you’re coming from. But here’s how I saw it. We – as well as all our family and friends who visit – would get a whole lot more joy out of this gorgeous book when it’s up on the walls as opposed to sitting away unseen on a shelf. It keeps what’s between its pages alive, in a sense. Your husband’s friends wouldn’t come over for a beer with him and flick admiringly through a beautiful vintage French dictionary, would they? Yet so many of them now comment on the toilet.