Deciding how much interior decorating you can do to a rental space without forfeiting your security deposit is the conundrum of every design savvy urban dweller. It was a question Elizabeth Rees considered seriously before starting her own company, Chasing Paper, which makes well-designed, removable wallpaper you can peel, stick and then sleep soundly at night knowing that it will come off the wall when you move.
“I’m 29, and I’ve lived in like 100 apartments in my 20s, and every time I move in, I just think ‘I really want to make it my own,'” says Rees, who recently relocated to the West Village. “I just kind of thought that there was this kind of median; something affordable that’s fun and designed well but not a huge commitment that’s going to hurt your wall. Your landlord isn’t going to screw you out of your deposit at the end of your lease. It’s a wallpaper of the future–not only is it removable, but it’s not just for walls.”
Rees’ wallpaper uses a non-toxic, low-tack adhesive in lieu of glue to adhere itself to walls, as well as other surfaces. A quick peruse of Chasing Paper’s Facebook page photos will unleash your inner DIY-er and inspire you to try your hand at other projects like decorating desks, drawers, trays and end tables, too.
“I want to wallpaper my refrigerator,” says Caitlin Keegan, an illustrator whose designs are currently being featured on the site. The cooler in question sits in her Park Slope apartment down the hall from a small studio space where she used to create patterns for Sesame Street, and now works out of as a freelance illustrator. Her hand-drawn designs for Chasing Paper incorporate elements inspired by nature.
“I’ve never designed wallpaper before,” Keegan says, “but I think organic things in general make the best patterns. You want something you can live with for more than a month or two. For these, I started drawing in my sketchbook and pulled out some smaller design elements.” In this case it was a little leaf print that comes in lime, rusty red, grey and blue and is available as of today on Chasing Paper’s website.
There are currently between 40 and 50 different designs submitted by artists and illustrators like Keegan that each come in several different color options, which Rees selects on a rolling basis to keep her offerings updated and ever-changing.
If you want to reapply your wallpaper to a new apartment when you move, Rees recommends upgrading from the standard to luxe material as the additional cost comes with what she calls “a guarantee of StikAbility” that promises a wrinkle-and-crease free application that won’t curl or shrink with temperature changes–especially handy if you’re planning on putting it in your bathroom or kitchen. Rather than coming in rolls like some oversized spindle of wrapping paper, Chasing Paper comes in 2×4-foot panels–a calculator on the website will help you determine how many panels you need for a project based on square footage–that start at $10 a pop. Despite the easy installation and removability factor, the wallpaper will last for several years, same as the conventional kind.
“It’s all about accessible, affordable design,” Rees says. “Selling by the panel allows you to be more creative, maybe start with something small like a table top or wall art, and expand on that–do a whole wall; cover an entire room; whatever your heart’s content.”