Speaking of alternatives to wallpaper, I spied an awesome DIY wall treatment in Dave's Lakeview Redux House Tour. Player piano music rolls used as wallpaper! Genius! Dave shared with me how he used the old relics to line his entryway.
Wheat paste is often a good choice for temporary wallpaper but because the printing on the music rolls is water soluble, David wasn't able to use that method as it would have made the text bleed. Instead, David chose to use vinyl wallpaper adhesive to attach the rolls to the walls. As a renter, David recognizes that he will some day need to remove this wallpaper treatment so he first applied sizing to the walls.
After cutting lengths of paper in the necessary size (plus a little extra to allow for shrinkage), David rolled paste onto the wall in a swath wide enough for a couple of strips of paper. With paste on the wall, David carefully applied one strip of music at a time. Once the paper was on the wall, and before the paste dried, he used a sharp blade to trim the excess from the top and bottom.
After applying all the paper to the walls, David carefully reapplied paste over the paper. The key word here is carefully. David said he applied paste to his roller and, in one movement, rolled it from top to bottom. Applying too much pressure may tear the fragile paper. David points out that with the delicateness of the player piano paper, there will be bubbles and creases in the paper after it is applied to the wall. Rather than trying to get the sleek smoothness of regular wallpaper, David embraced the imperfect nature of his wall treatment.
Part of the appeal of using player piano music is that is it taking an obsolete item and finding a clever new use for it. Of course, not everyone will have rolls of player piano music on hand for a project like this. As David pointed out to me, this method would work with just about any paper. You could use wrapping paper, old dress patterns, sheet music, or book pages.
Images: Evan Thomas