The One Surprising Decorating Rule Even Drew Barrymore Breaks

published Nov 29, 2023
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Head on view of a small living room with sage and light pink floral wallpaper on the right wall and white wood panels on the left. The kitchen has white cabinetry and there a large cream colored chair on the right and a light green swivel chair on the left.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

Using wallpaper is a lovely way to personalize your space with colors, textures, and patterns at play. Now with so many options out there, including renter-friendly ones, the world of wallpaper is limitless. 

But there’s still some structure when it comes to applying wallpaper; in fact, a common rule is to stick to one design per space, whether you’re using it for the entire room or an accent wall. This is especially true when decorating a small space. You have limited square footage and walls, so there’s not a lot of room to play with wallpaper, right? Not so, it turns out!

Just because this is an expectation doesn’t mean you have to be bound by it! Drew Barrymore makes the case for designing with not just one but three wallpapers in her Small/Cool studio design theme. And spoiler alert: It really works! 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

“This take on a studio proves small spaces can be both comfy and cool, without having to spend a ton of money. It’s all about thoughtful layering, personal touches, and intentional choices,” says Barrymore of the space she designed for Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool event, which was held in October. 

When putting together this look, three peel-and-stick wallpapers by Spoonflower spoke to her. Along the wall of the designated kitchen space, there’s a vertical shiplap wallpaper, which works to visually elongate the room. It’s paired with a gorgeous textured vintage art nouveau floral wallpaper on the remaining walls. And the third wallpaper? It’s covering the mini fridge

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

By covering the mini-fridge with the grasscloth vine in basil wallpaper, you’re able to add another pop of color in a small yet meaningful way. This ingenious method of using wallpaper in multiple places — on the walls and surfaces of appliances — elevates the room and infuses more personality and creativity to make the space feel like your own. And it goes to show that it’s fine to let go of the rules in favor of what’s right and good for you.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

The “Sunny Style” room balances these pops of color with cozy neutral furnishings that are functional, too. Barrymore’s pro tip is to maximize your furniture’s potential by selecting things that can pull double duty. For instance, this fluted three-shelf bookcase has tons of storage and also provides division in a room. There’s also her iconic chair that swivels so you can take it from the designated living room to the kitchen in a flash.

If you want to try adding more than one wallpaper to your space, try Barrymore’s hack of applying peel-and-stick wallpaper to appliances, which will not only dress up an otherwise “boring” piece, but also bring more interest into a room.

You can take the full tour and shop Barrymore’s Small/Cool room by visiting this website.