Have you ever had a home project that seemed to drag on forever? For me, that project was the completion of this odd little nook in our basement.

We knew we wanted to turn the space into a work/craft/sewing area, but we couldn’t decide between built-in cabinetry, a countertop and shelves, or a combination of the two. For six years we debated and measured and drew little sketches, but still nothing happened, probably because we were so unclear about our goals for the area.

Finally, I sat down and made a list of what was most important to me for this space.  I knew I wanted it to be bright and cheerful–a place that would promote creativity.  I also knew I wanted our grandchildren to be able to use the space for coloring and art projects, which meant it needed to be kid-friendly and easy to clean.

Once I made that list and became clear about my vision for the space, it all came together quickly.  (Note to self:  remember this process for future projects!)  Soon after, I found Ikea’s Alex desk–a clean, simple, modern workspace, which also happened to be perfectly-sized to fit two side-by-side in our nook!

We bought the desks (a steal at $140 apiece) plus four of their 75″ Lack floating shelves (also an amazing buy at $20 each).

Then, a few days later, we found what would tie everything together–the bold peel and stick wallpaper, which my daughters told me about.

Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock, because I had no idea self-adhesive wallpaper was even a thing, much less available in so many beautiful patterns and colors!

With dozens of options, it was difficult to choose, but since I wanted to keep the area bright and cheerful, I decided on the Wall Pops NU1648 Grand Trellis pattern in navy and white.

I just love the way the navy geometric pattern pops against the bright white background!

At last, this project is behind us–thanks to Ikea, some wild wallpaper, and my handy husband, who did a beautiful job hanging everything. (It took about 2 hours to hang the wallpaper and 2 more to hang the shelves.)

Our total cost?  Just over $500 (not including chairs and decorative items), which is pretty wonderful, considering the DIY cabinetry we were looking at would have cost around $3,000.

Following are the steps we took to take this nook from dark & dreary to bright and cheerful!

Wild Wallpaper–Our Colorful New Work Space & Craft Area


Another shot of the before. You can see why it was bugging me all those years.


We ordered three rolls of wallpaper, which was just right to cover our 9′ x 9′ space with a little bit left over.  The first strip is the most important, as it determines how straight the rest of the strips will be.  Dave used a level and a pencil to mark where the first strip would go, then he peeled off a bit of the backing and started sticking!


He then matched up the pattern for each subsequent strip of wallpaper, using a sharp utility knife to cut off the excess at the ceiling and baseboard.  He also used a smoothing tool to smooth out the bubbles as he applied each strip.



The great thing about peel and stick wallpaper is that you can pull it up and re-position it as you go along.  And, if we ever change our minds about it we can simply pull it off the wall!


Now it was time to hang the shelves. Our daughter Natalie, who’s an interior designer, provided us with “elevations,” or diagrams showing how the shelves would look in different arrangements.

Since I love symmetry, at first I planned to just hang the shelves in a straight column in the center of the wall.  But after seeing Natalie’s diagrams, I really liked the look of alternating the shelves from side to side.

First, though, we cut out long strips of paper (shown above) the same length and width as the shelves and used masking tape to place them in different configurations–just to make sure we’d like the staggered look.



And we love it!  By alternating the shelves, we allowed more room at the end of each shelf for larger artwork and taller decorative items.


In addition to shifting around the decorative items, future plans include getting another chair so two people can use the space at the same time, and adding one or two rolling file cabinets under the desks to store craft, art, and office supplies.


Since I love moving things around, I know this space will evolve as time goes by, but for now, I couldn’t be happier about how it turned out.


It’s so bright and cheerful, I can’t keep myself from going downstairs to look at it.  By creating a space we love, I know we’ll use it often.


Now, on to the next project! xo