The year I first started working in an office, three of my family members gave me those little “page a day” desk calendars for Christmas. I could only use one, so I saved the other two away in a drawer, knowing that one day I would find a use for them. Then one day, while brainstorming ideas for decorating the half-bath in my home, I remembered those calendars and inspiration struck. I could wallpaper with them!
The two calendars I had saved away were both full of The Far Side comics. That had always been my favorite comic strip (and my family knew that — that’s why I got two of them!). I wanted to read them over and over, so what could be better than putting them on the wall? Covering an entire wall would be too much, though, so I decided to just cover the bottom half of the wall with the comics.
I started by installing a small chair rail around the room. Then I started thinking about what it would take to un-do this project in the future, if I (or a future homeowner) ever wanted to. Making it easy to remove meant avoiding any permanent damage to the walls. So, instead of gluing the comics to the wall directly, I decided to first cover the wall with a 1/4″ thin sheet of lauan wood.
I cut the lauan to fit between the chair rail and the baseboard, and suddenly I had a smooth — and easily removable — surface on which to apply my custom wallpaper. I didn’t have to fill any holes or gaps, because I knew I was going to cover it all with paper, but I did paint it white to make sure I had a nice bright background in case it showed through.
Then I looked at the vanity under the sink. I didn’t want to ruin that nice oak, but I wanted to cover it with comics. So I took the doors and drawer-fronts off and measured them. I transferred the measurements to a sheet of 3/4″ pine, which I cut to the same size as all the doors. I painted the new boards white and reinstalled the hinges and tucked the oak pieces away in the back of the cabinet. Perfect!
The only thing left to cover was the flat face of the front of the vanity — the parts that are around the doors and drawers. Again, I didn’t want to do any permanent damage with paint, so I decided to just cover them with white contact paper. I put strips of contact paper over all the exposed parts of the vanity front, knowing that I could easily peel it all off in the future if I needed to.
The last prep step was to cut the comics themselves into usable pieces. I trimmed them with my handy paper trimmer as close as possible on the top and right sides, but left the excess white paper on the bottom and left sides. This extra on two sides gave me plenty of background so that when I applied the next one up against it, there was some overlap and no gap between the two.
Finally the prep was done and I could start applying the comics! For this, I used a lot of Mod Podge decoupage medium. How much you need will depend on how large your room is, but I used several medium-sized bottles for mine. First, I used a foam brush to apply some of it onto the wall where I was going to put the comic. I then pressed the comic on top of the decoupage medium, smoothing it out with my fingers. I then brushed more medium over the whole comic, sealing it thoroughly. I continued in this manner, starting at the top and working from right to left. Keep in mind that the close-trimmed edges of the comics were on the top and right, so it was crucial that I work from top to bottom and right to left.
When the entire wall was covered (boy, it was hard to reach behind the toilet!), I brushed another coat of decoupage medium over the entire surface, again with a foam brush, to give it a final sealing coat.
I then moved on to my fake drawer-fronts and doors and covered them with comics using the same method.
Covering the vanity really brought the whole room together, and I’m so glad I did it.
I was having so much fun I couldn’t stop — I even decoupaged comics onto the light switch plate and outlet cover! The final touch I put in the room was to frame three of my favorite comics in simple black frames.
With the framed comics on the wall and a matching black towel on the towel rack, I had myself the creative black-and-white bathroom I’d ever seen.
Every guest in my home who walks into the bathroom laughs as they see what I’ve done, and they all love it. Most of my friends have identified their favorites on the wall, and I love having such a unique conversation piece in such an unusual place!