How to Decorate with Dated Wallpaper

LAST UPDATED: Jan 04, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Sep 07, 2016 | By:

Get ideas to updated dated wallpaper that you’re not ready to remove! You can give old wallpaper a fresh new modern look with just a few tricks and techniques.

A bedroom with slanted ceilings, dated wallpaper in a floral pattern and a rattan light fixture.

When we purchased our lake cottage, there were a lot of things to love and a lot of things that needed some work. In fact, the first thing we said is “we have to get rid of all of this wallpaper.”

We’ve updated so many spaces in this home. Take the full before and after tour, along with a modern bathroom update, a nautical bathroom, and the lake living room. You can even see our incredible new vinyl deck right here!

When we first stepped into this house for a tour, the amount of floral wallpaper was a little overwhelming. In fact, the pattern in the kitchen is what my sister had in her kitchen a couple homes ago and the basement bath has a pattern that a friend of mine had from her childhood. That’s a few more years than I care to admit.

However, once we moved into the home, we began to appreciate the cottage for what it is, rather than taking it at face value. It’s a lake front home, with beautiful views of the water in a peaceful setting.

Suddenly, it didn’t seem to matter quite as much and I decided that rather than spending a significant amount of money to remove this wallpaper, we would embrace it.

First, a few before photos…

A dark bedroom with dated wallpaper on the walls a large windows.
A dark bedroom with dated wallpaper on the walls and several windows.
A dark bedroom with dated wallpaper on the walls and several large windows.

Embracing Dated Wallpaper in a Modern Home

A couple neighbors warned us that their wallpaper (which was installed when the homes were built) was difficult to remove because it was applied directly to the drywall.

Eek, right? I was brave and took the chance in the kitchen and girls’ bunk bed room, but for our master bedroom, I decided to take a different approach.

First, we re-positioned the bed to embrace the view. It really opened up the room and allowed the view to be front and center, changing the entire focus of the space.

A bedroom with old wallpaper on the walls in a floral pattern, white bedding on the bed.

The floral wallpaper is so busy, so I kept the decor simple for the cottage master, integrating texture, a hint of color and subtle patterns.

We brought in a little neutral texture by integrating a rattan headboard. It makes the space feel fresh and modern while adding to the vacation vibe that plays well with the floral background.

It is the most significant piece of furniture in the room, so it provides a little balance as well.

A soft white matelasse blanket on a pale green bedroom rug

We lived with the original carpet for several years but I didn’t love it, so I selected a large wool rug in a soft green tone. This was an effort to make the room feel lighter and brighter!

We placed the rug under the bed so that it extends for the length of the room and on each side of the bed. Later, we replaced the old carpet with fresh new patterned carpet for more of a modern update!

A striped lamp on a blue dresser, gold mirror in the background and cottage decor on the dresser.

Bedroom Wallpaper Ideas

The previous homeowners were kind enough to leave us a few pieces of furniture, like this blue / grey chest of drawers. Ironically, it’s the same as my sister’s childhood set that was yellow!

It pulls from the color in the wallpaper. I added a mirror just above it to reflect light and add a little height. Chris adorned it with a piece of driftwood and of course I try to add fresh flowers or a plant to bring the room to life whenever possible.

Read on for more of my favorite tricks to create warm and cozy vibes in your home.

patterned carpet and floral wallpaper in a bedroom

As time and money permitted, it was replaced with an inexpensive white dresser, but you can see how you can make the most of just about anything!

A statement light fixture (like this $60 pendant from IKEA) accentuates vaulted ceilings while drawing the eye away from wallpaper.

patterned carpet and floral wallpaper in a bedroom

Looking out the window at the foot of the bed…

A window looking down into a pretty lake view.

How to Choose Bedding to go with Wallpaper

It was really important to us to have a calm and cozy retreat to escape to, so I kept the bedding soft and simple, selecting a matelassé coverlet that conforms to you. It’s so soft!

And well, I’m not really one to make a bed and it looks beautiful just draped on top. I complimented it with a couple of ivory shams, hemstitch sheets and the most beautiful quilted shams for a little pop of color in our master bedroom.

While I love a little pattern mixing, I really wanted to make sure that we didn’t let this space become too busy, so solids were the best choice for this bed!

A bedroom with patterned floral slightly dated wallpaper, updated with fresh white bedding and pretty textures with a large window.

Similarly, we used a solid bedding in the downstairs guest room as well. Texture and cozy whites helped to break up all the busy pattern!

More Patterned Wallpaper

In this lower guest bedroom at the lake, there’s more cottage inspired floral wallpaper. Again, once we moved in, I found that it was a pattern I could live with if we just chose the right accessories.

In this room, I knew that breaking up the pattern would make a big impact. I added this headboard to help break up the pattern around the big and give a visual rest in the space.

A bedroom with patterned floral slightly dated wallpaper, updated with fresh white bedding and pretty textures with a large window.

Again, choosing textures like these stools and light fixture help to draw the eye away from the slightly dated wallpaper. It helps the whole space feel fresh without the time or expense of changing the walls themselves!

Suddenly the 90’s wallpaper feels like it belongs in a current catalog and I feel at peace with it. A little bedding can go a long way and save so much effort and this guy loved it, and that’s all that really matters, right?

A gray dog sitting on a bed with white bedding.

Want more? Receive the best ideas directly to your inbox and connect on YoutubeInstagramFacebook, and Pinterest!

You can see more of our lake cottage here. Do you have dated wallpaper you’re trying to work with? 

I love sharing simple lifestyle and decorating ideas with my readers. Looking for more inspiration? Start here!

More Home Inspiration


mini loaves of bread gift wrapped