Wallpaper for a feature wall should be eye-catching and the color should match the existing decor.

How to Wallpaper a Feature Wall

by Diann Cabler

Hanging wallpaper on just one feature wall — rather than wallpapering an entire room — creates a main focal point. A feature wall should be a large wall with few windows or doors. Even if your budget won’t accommodate using a more expensive designer wallpaper on every wall, you may be able to use a more costly product yet stay under budget if you wallpaper only a feature wall. Designer wallpaper with a bold pattern is ideal for a feature wall. Prepasted wallpaper is much easier to work with than traditional wallpaper, especially if you’re not experienced in hanging wallpaper.

Measure the width of the wallpaper minus 1/2 inch from the left hand corner of the feature wall and make a pencil mark. Have a helper hold the chalk plumb line at the top of the wall above the mark, while you pull the string all the way to the bottom of the wall. Let the string hang freely so that it crosses directly over the pencil mark, then carefully hold the bottom end of the string against the wall, taking care not to move it to the left or right. With a quick motion, "snap" the line by pulling it away from the wall and quickly letting it go. It will snap back against the wall, marking a straight line with chalk.

Measure the height of the wall and add 6 inches. Unroll the wallpaper and mark the length you just measured. Cut the wallpaper with craft scissors, following the lines on the back of the paper to ensure a straight cut. Fill the water tray with tap water. Roll the cut wallpaper strip from bottom to top, with the paste side facing out and the pattern on the inside of the roll. Submerge the rolled strip into the water tray and let it soak for 30 seconds (or whatever length of time the manufacturer recommends).

Hold the wallpaper by the top of the strip and slowly unroll, making sure the paste side is completely wet. Gently move to the flat surface of the work table and fold each end of the strip to the center lengthwise, with the pasted sides in. Do not crease the folds. Let the strip rest for the length of time the manufacturer recommends, usually 10 minutes.

Unfold the top half of the wallpaper and position it against the wall with the right edge lined up with your chalk plumb line, and the left side wrapped loosely to the adjoining wall. Slide it into place with the top edge overlapping the ceiling by about 3 inches. Using a damp sponge, gently smooth out the wallpaper, unfolding the bottom half as you work, keeping it lined up with the plumb line. Gently smooth out any air bubbles. Make sure not to stretch the wallpaper when smoothing. Use the ruler to create a crease mark against the ceiling, baseboard and left edge of feature wall. Cut the excess paper at the top, bottom and left edge with a utility knife, making one long cut on each side. Wash excess glue from the ceiling, baseboards and adjoining wall with a sponge and clean water.

Continue to measure and cut strips of wallpaper, taking care to match the pattern with the previous piece. Roll and soak each strip and let it rest in the same way you prepared the first strip. Slide each subsequent wallpaper strip into place, fitting its left edge tightly against the right edge of the previous piece, but do not overlap. For each strip, smooth out the wallpaper with a damp sponge and trim excess at the top and bottom with the utility knife. The last strip may wrap around onto the adjoining wall. If so, crease with the ruler and trim the excess in the corner with the utility knife for a sharp edge.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Chalk plumb line
  • Scissors
  • Work table
  • Water tray
  • Sponge
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife


  • Flocked or metallic wallpapers add texture and interest to your feature wall.


  • Do not leave utility knives and other sharp objects within reach of children.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Diann Cabler was co-owner of a home remodeling and construction company for 25 years. She is experienced in all areas of new home construction and remodeling. She is currently working on a non-fiction novel.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images