The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

DIY Decorating: Wall Decals, Tattoos for Home

DIY wall decals

Many a DIY décor project looks simple but soon turns into major stress. Enter: peel-and-stick wall decals. With little to no swearing, a wall decal can provide the perfect seasonal update, decorative but far from permanent and more than just a passing trend.

When removable, reusable wall decals hit the décor market a few years ago,  there was a wave of relief from renters, homeowners, honey-do-list spouses and commitment-phobic decorators alike. Imagine: in less time than it takes to watch your favorite HGTV show, you can enjoy the brilliance of your handiwork! Peel-and-stick wall decals made from vinyl are super easy to apply (and remove), come in a range of designs and colors, are super budget friendly, and custom designs are limited only by your imagination.

Last spring, I applied a flock of birds to the glass partition on my balcony. They softened the hard brick environment and added a whimsical touch to the modern outdoor space. These birds have weathered a horrendously snowy New England winter, numerous rainstorms, and strong, unabated direct sunshine, yet they’re still in almost perfect condition, as vibrant as the day they were applied.

Wall decals don’t have to be applied to just walls, either — any hard flat surface will do: cabinets, ceilings, desktops, shower doors or bookshelves. Think about places that will have an element of surprise. How about underneath the toilet lid? On the washing machine? How about on the dog door? Stamp your ground, literally, or vamp up the bedroom with a stylish headboard, be greeted with a decal message on your mirror, add a decorative border for a bulletin board.

Decals seem to be regularly updated on most manufacturer websites, so designs always remain fresh. Click through their photo galleries to give you some creative ideas on how to use them, and watch this how-to video from Ferm Living for step-by-step tips on perfect decal application first to see if decorating with wall decals is right for you:

Now, for the super fun part — my favorite decal shopping resources:

Ferm Living
Eye-catching, graphic modern decals. Though they cost a little more, you can remove and reuse these stickers. I’ve always loved the black birds on a wire. (In fact, I used them as the main focal point in the communal dining room of our Australian restaurant, KO Catering & Pies in South Boston.)

What is Blik
This catalog offers such a variety of styles it’s like a decal department store. The range for kid’s bedrooms is really cool, and Blik’s partnership with promises a never ending stream of new ideas. (Artists and graphic designers submit unique contributions regularly to the every increasing inventory.)

Tasty Suite
What’s not to resist from a site that sells decals with the mantra, “We Love Vinyl. We really do.” Their shop has a great mix of subtle and iconic signage options.

Design With a Z
If you like the idea of having an original decal to cover your walls, submit a digital photograph (as a jpeg file) to receive an estimate and approve a proof before ordering. In just 1 to 4 business days, your custom decal arrives! is another great one, especially for kids’ rooms.

How to Use Wall Decals:

  1. For maximum adhesion to freshly-painted surfaces, wait two weeks before applying decals.
  2. Some decals can be reused and repositioned over and over, others can be easily removed but not reused. Double check before ordering.
  3. Decals can be applied on any smooth, flat and bump-free surface.
  4. Read all the directions on the product first. Sounds simple, but different brands have small differences that make a big difference in the end result.

How to Apply Decals:

  1. Wipe down the surface, ensuring it’s dry and there is no grease or dust.
  2. With small pieces of tape, place the decal in position. Take a few steps back and side to side to check and see if you’re happy with the placement.
  3. With the decal still taped to the wall, start pulling the white liner, one corner at a time and use a credit card or spatula to smooth the vinyl as you work. Slow and steady wins the smooth, bubble-free race.
  4. Pull off the transparency, making sure that the decal is stuck to the surface, using the spatula to help.
  5. Keep repeating steps 3 and 4 to apply other parts of the composition to the wall (or other surface) if your decal has more than one piece.
  6. Clean your wall decal with a dry cloth or duster. Don’t use rubbing alcohol as it will damage the decal.
  7. Step back, admire your cleverness, and snap a pic for Facebook.

How to Remove Decals:

  1. Use a sharp instrument, such as a knife, to help pull off the edges and then pull it off carefully.
  2. If your decal is reusable, follow the instructions on the original packaging for proper storage or transportation.

Story: Copyright 2011, Shoestring LLC & Kara Butterfield. Image: Courtesy of Kara Butterfield.

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