Thatched Paper Wall

Living Room at Casa Peaches

A few folks inquired about the book pages in the background of my photographs. I never mentioned it before because I put it up long before the blog began…but since y’all asked….

It was really very easy. Cheap too. AND apartment-dweller-friendly (read: it doesn’t damage the wall. Wahoo!)

If you come to my tiny place, you will see a lot of things, not just the one wall, covered in old book pages. It’s kind of my thing. Not like I invented it, I just like to use it everywhere. I love the visual texture it creates especially when used in mass.  It’s like a neutral.

Yes, I said neutral.

Neutral means beige and gray  and cream and navy blue, to some people…to others, like me, neutral means old books, brown craft paper, black and white stripes and Kermit the Frog green.

But that’s just me.

It might be a little heavy handed for some folks but I like it just fine. It creates a great textural base layer to display all kinds of other stuff. It’s also the one wall in my home that gets flooded with natural light every morning, so you will see it in my photographs a lot.

Hmmm…what do these projects have in common?

It’s like an apartment-friendly alternative to wallpaper. Just use a low-adhesive tape, like painters tape or removable scrapbooking tape. This wall has been up for over a year now and is doing just great. There was an especially humid stretch in the summer when I would find a page or two falling down every week, but big whoop! A little extra tape patched it up just fine.

If you choose to do this, the one thing you will need to be careful about is choosing the book. It needs to be big. It needs to be interesting. It needs to be an author you enjoy.

See, everyone who sees this wall is going to ask you “what book is this?” and it would be really embarrassing if you had to tell them it was some crumby thing you got at an airport concession stand. The book I chose was a three part volume: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island.

Suppose I could have chosen something much more high-brow, but LM Montgomery is my childhood favorite. Plus, she is one of those authors who writes in a way that each sentence stands on it’s own –you can look at any page on this wall and find a wonderful passage. It’s a constant source of comfort and inspiration. I love it to pieces.

One day I will leave this apartment and I’m pretty sure I will shed a tear when it comes time to take down this wall. Maybe the new tenants will be Anne with an E fans too and I can leave it up.  Fingers crossed!

If you aren’t the literary type, there are all kinds of things you could thatch. What about yellow pages? Or sheet music? Or newsprint? (Anthropologie catalogue always does a lot of neato stuff with newsprint)….What about cookbooks? Wouldn’t it be cool to see a whole formal dining room covered in pages from 5 or 6 different cookbooks? They would all come together is different shades of cream and different styles of font….Oooo, I could just swoon. Someone do this and send me a picture!

The trick is to start with the edges, then work from the bottom up.

Must give credit where credit due: First time I saw a thatched paper wall was in the hallway outside Mrs. B’s art room. For a while in college, I toyed with the idea of being an art teacher and was lucky enough to serve as her aide for a semester. Things went in a different direction for me, but I learned an awful lot from Mrs. B, including the concept of layering children’s art work. If you have enough space to hang your kid’s art on it’s won with lots of space around, that’s great. But if you are a Chicago Public School teacher with 250 kids, white space isn’t really an option.

To address the problem and make sure every child could point to their work and be proud, Mrs. B took to layering their work like thatched shingles. The end result was a hallway filled with a riot of color and texture. The pieces would gradually change over the course of the year, but the overall feeling of joyful excitement never changed. Most important, the kids loved it 🙂

Thanks Mrs. B!


  1. says

    Beautiful! I’m now so tempted to do this with our playroom, or with my daughter’s “big girl” room. I also love the idea of using sheet music.

    Hmmm…it could also make a spectacular buffet backdrop. If only I had a party that could use such a display!

  2. says

    Yay! Thanks for the post! I’m inspired! Actually, I might as well do this since my husband won’t let me have bookcases.

    It’s a lovely story and it looks great. 🙂

  3. says

    Holy smokes, that is the coolest wall ever! AWESOME!!! And you picked the perfect books too, I so love Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to marry Gilbert when I grew up. *dreamy sigh*

    Between this and the shoes in the previous post, you are my new hero!

  4. says

    Oh you’re appealing to my little Canadian heart with your Anne of Green Gables thatched paper wall this fine evening! So warm Peaches… sigh… That Mrs B was a sweet lady making sure every child felt special… Are there still teachers like that around?… Hope so.

  5. says

    What a funny tip about using a book you’ll enjoy copping to! Never would have thought of that, but I see how it would be the obvious question. Oh, and I think the look is absolutely wonderbean!

  6. says

    I LOVED Anne of Green gables and I ‘borrowed’ your idea on a smaller scale to do I tray top and I love it, which also reminds me I promised ‘moo’ I would do his room with car pics, rats I had forgotten but anything would be better than floral wall paper for the poor little man until I get around to stripping it.

    Will send a pic tomorrow when I have finished, you are a total star xoxo

  7. says

    PS I have seriously been considering doing this in the WC until we get around to re doing it – something to ponder while occupied hee hee xoxo Maybe using a crossword book and i could hang a pen somewhere !! 🙂

  8. says

    This is amazing! But I would have to get over the extreme cringing that destroying a book causes in order to try it myself…

  9. says

    I absolutely love you. Really. At this very moment I am contemplating which wall in my house I am going to do this to. I have a copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” that I want to use.

    When I was in college I thatched one wall of my dorm room with pages torn from fashion magazines: gorgeous gowns, insane makeup, gigantic diamonds. And Altoids ads. It was pretty cool.

  10. says

    I do love this and think it’s so true about picking a book you love–what could be better than Anne of GG? I’m sure I’ll be borrowing this look somewhere in the near future. Hope you have a great weekend Peaches!

    xo Mary Jo

  11. says

    This is so pretty. I agree; it’s definitely neutral. Here in Austin, Thuderbird Coffee wall papered one wall with encyclopedia pages. The wallpaper approach is nice, but I like the textured look of thatching.

  12. says

    I want to come see your apartment! You are quickly becoming one of the most interesting and creative people I know. I wish you would give us the background and all that to you

  13. says

    My husband wants to thatch his office in rejection letters from early in his career! Some from people he later worked for.

  14. trish says

    Aunt Peaches you are my new hero! My goal for 2011 is to get my craft room organized and pretty (finally!!) I kept wondering what I could do with my two cinder block walls. They are super hard to hang things on. They look too much like prison walls to leave plain. Thatched book pages….super cheap….super easy….super fab solution. Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. says

    I’m sure my divorce papers would be on that wall somewhere if I tried that at home Ü Actually, he wouldn’t even care….if I did it to my sister’s house Ü
    I love the scaled down version, though. Even a big bulleting boards would be really neat!

  16. says

    I remember reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and the Wizard of Oz books over and over growing up. Both would be perfect for this.
    Funny thing – Laura Wilder covered her first home’s walls in old newspapers to stop drafts. They never once considered it art!

  17. Anonymous says

    You did a great job on this wall – very neat. I papered my powder room door with pages from a book a few years ago – I love it too 🙂
    Take Care, C

  18. Tina M says

    I saw this months ago and had to do it in my bedroom….months had passed and for some reason, I can’t quite remember, my landlord had to come up to my place. You know where this is going… alas, I had to take it down . Now I am determined to reuse every last page of The Iliad and The Odyssey in some form or fashion around my apartment! As always, thanks for all the snazzalicious ideas you come up with!!

  19. Beth says

    Thank you for this idea! I just did this to my bedroom and posted pictures on my new blog! I credited you in the post as well! Thanks!!

  20. Anonymous says

    Several years back we used seed catalogs on a bathroom wall in my dad’s farmhouse. It turned out great and you could read while you were taking a break ;-


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *