The Best Kind of Wallpaper Might Actually Be a One-of-a-Kind, Maximalist Celebration of Everything You Love

published Nov 18, 2022
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Decorating the walls of a rental can often present challenges: Does the landlord allow paint, or do the walls need to be kept pristine white? Are you permitted to hang decor with nails and screws? Can you circumvent the rules with a bit of peel-and-stick wallpaper? All of these considerations don’t really come into play when you own a home, but the challenge of personalizing a rented space is always one that yields the most creative and interesting results.

Take Maya “Marty” Martin-Udry’s walls, for example. Her tiny 249-square-foot studio apartment on New York City’s Lower East Side is covered from floor-to-ceiling in a collage of pretty much any manner of paper you could think of. “I started taping up photos, art, notes from friends, and more in college,” says Martin-Udry. “Over the years, the collection of memories on my wall has grown and moved with me to various apartments. It is kinship rendered on paper, a chaotic and overwhelming manifestation of the people and spaces I love and have loved. The noisiness, brightness, and abundance of the collage collapses and queers time — everything that has ever mattered to me, all the people I have been, and all the loved ones and experiences that have shaped me, clamoring together all at once. It makes me feel full.”

While the highly maximalist walls might not be for everyone, they’re a source of happiness and inspiration for Martin-Udry. “My home is joyful,” she says. “It is my heart on my sleeve. My great delight is to share it with others — so much of me is reflected in the space so sharing it feels vulnerable and connecting in the best way.”

If you’re looking to recreate this idea but are worried about visual overload, consider paring everything down to a specific color scheme. It might take a bit longer to source all the material you need to recreate this kind of floor-to-ceiling look. If you start collecting neutral, black-and-white, or specifically-colored postcards, photos, notes, etc. though, you can amass a totally personal collection without compromising on content or aesthetic. You can also use photoshop or other software to tint your images, too, if that’s something you’d like to explore. Companies like Urban Outfitters also sell collage kits to get you started (or fill in any gaps/unwanted white space on your walls), but the best memories — and wallpaper fodder — will be created organically out there in the real world. The only thing to keep in mind? Using painter’s tape to affix your images is probably your best bet for an installation technique, that is, if you want to get your full security deposit back!