This Surprising Wallpaper Trend Is Back for 2024 (It’s Renter-Friendly!)

published Mar 15, 2024
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Credit: Jessica Rapp

Patterned wallpaper is a fun way to elevate your space with some unique texture and pattern. But it’s no secret traditional wall coverings are a pain to remove (and definitely not renter-friendly), and peel-and-stick wallpaper can get expensive. For a cheaper wallpaper alternative, consider adding fabric to your walls — yes, fabric. 

Fabric wallpaper has become increasingly more popular over the last few years, thanks to its easy application process and affordability. It’s also a great choice for renters who want to personalize their homes without the risk of wall damage (or dealing with potentially stubborn peel-and-stick wallpaper at the end of a lease). 

How to Wallpaper with Fabric

Since the application process is a lot more forgiving than peel-and-stick, temporary fabric wallpaper is excellent for beginners. Plus, it’s super easy to remove if you ever want to switch it up or if you move out of your space and need to take it down. Unlike standard wallpaper — which requires a heavy-duty glue for hanging — fabric wallpaper uses liquid starch to stay in place. For an in-depth tutorial on wallpapering with fabric, see this step-by-step guide. Essentially, you’re coating your walls in liquid starch and then positioning the fabric over the top of that sticky (but not permanent) base. Another coat of liquid starch seals the paper on the wall, keeping it set in place.

Best Fabric for Walls

The kind of fabric you use can impact the overall papering process and outcome, so choosing the right material will help ensure you get a smooth finish. When buying fabric for wallpaper, look for lightweight, 100% cotton materials. If you’re ever unsure of a fabric’s composition or don’t know where to start when shopping, you can’t go wrong with quilting cotton — it comes in tons of different colors and prints, since it’s designed for unique patchwork designs, and it’s very thin so it shouldn’t bubble. 

To kickstart your own accent wall or bedroom makeover, here are some of my favorite lightweight cotton fabrics for wallpapering. Bonus: You can also save any leftover pieces for a crafting or sewing project!

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Mood Fabrics

If you like the look of floral wallpaper but want something a little moodier, I recommend this cotton poplin option from Mood Designer Fabrics. The material is constructed from 100% cotton with a whimsical botanical print in jewel-toned greens, pinks, and blues.

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Joann Fabrics
was $12.99

For a foiled wallpaper look, consider the Keepsake Calico Gold Ditsy Floral Fabric from JOANN. This lightweight material is designed specifically with home decor in mind, and it makes a statement in any space — from a powder room to the wall behind a bookshelf.

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was $7.99

Whether in a nursery or home office, this zebra fabric from Michaels would make an excellent wallpaper. The 100% cotton design combines a stunning soft pink background with vintage-inspired animal illustrations.

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Joann Fabrics
was $5.99

This Quilter’s Showcase Diamond on Sage Cotton Fabric has a modern, yet timeless feel to it — plus the right amount of detail to make a statement without feeling too busy. The lightweight construction makes it ideal for hanging as wallpaper.

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Mood Fabrics
was $22.99

Add a pop of color to your space with this vibrant cotton fabric from Liberty. The floral illustrative print showcases blues, yellows, and reds, and a touch of salmon pink, so you can more easily match it to your own decor color scheme.

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Joann Fabrics
was $10.99

Go for a more cottagecore-friendly look with this adorable fabric from JOANN, which includes a mushroom identification print inspired by vintage field guides. I love this 100% cotton fabric wallpaper option because the blank space in the background makes it even easier to line up the pattern when hanging.

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Joann Fabrics
was $9.99

If you love the look of retro floral wallpaper, the Keepsake Calico Floral on Green Cotton Fabric nods to that aesthetic with a gorgeous green background and small touches of pink, blue, and yellow.

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Mood Fabrics
was $22.99

This parasol-printed design from Liberty feels straight out of an Anthropologie catalog. Made from 100% cotton, the quilting fabric touts a fun, whimsical look with subtle stripes and hearts.