Renter's Design Dilemma #1: Brown Tile Fireplace Wall

Happy Monday, y'all! This week I'm sharing two design dilemmas that I'm dying to solve in this house and I'm hoping you might be able to provide some ideas! I'll start with one today and finish up with the other on Wednesday. They both have to do with the back wall of our living room.

Our little Philadelphia row house has a wonderful open floor plan on the first floor. On the back wall, there's a charming wood-burning fireplace, but what's not charming is the brown tile that covers the entire wall. When the owner renovated this house, he made a few design choices along the way that wouldn't necessarily have been my first choices and that brown tile is one of them. I realize that some may love this "feature wall," but it's not my cup of tea unfortunately. It makes the back end of the first floor feel dark and cave-like. Plus, there's so much brown in this house already: brown wood floors, brown stairs, brown mantle, brown kitchen cabinets...you get the point.

I'm itching to lighten things up a bit on this floor, so this brings me to design dilemma #1: how to cover up that brown tile. As y'all know, we're renting this home, so there will be no demo-ing here, and whatever we end up doing obviously needs to be a removable and damage-free solution.

Here's a wide shot of the living area with the wall o' tile:

See how brown everything reads in here? Those buttery yellow walls don't help either (we are allowed to paint, so I'm hoping to do that eventually too!).

There are the two ideas I'm seriously considering for this dilemma: white beadboard or removable wallpaper.

Idea # 1: Beadboard.

The Nester covered up her renter's kitchen backsplash with beadboard and it looked fantastic. Check it:

You know how she attached it? Hot glue. It popped right off of tile without damaging it. Since the surface I'm trying to cover is tile as well, this idea seems really appealing. Beadboard fits my design aesthetic well too and I think it would look nice around the fireplace.

Idea #2: Removable Wallpaper.

Removable wallpaper, also known as "renter's wallpaper" or "peel and stick wallpaper," is something that's been around for several years now and there are some awesome patterns out there. I found several companies (Chasing Paper, Swag Paper, even Target) that have contemporary, modern designs that are appealing to me, but I'm not totally convinced that I want to go with a bold pattern on that wall. Dormco carries blank, paintable wallpaper, which sounds pretty awesome, but also might not be the right solution for a fireplace surround. Spoonflower allows you to create your own, custom removable wallpaper - also a nice option.

So what do y'all think?

Do you have other ideas for this design dilemma?

I'll be back with design dilemma #2 on Wednesday. Here's a photo of what I'm dealing with for this dilemma: nasty vertical blinds!

It's a nice combo with the tile wall, don't you think? I don't have any brilliant ideas for that one yet, so get ready to put your thinking caps on for that one!

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  1. i think because of where it's located you could hang some floor to ceiling curtains over the door, and then it would just look like a tiled fireplace- maybe just some white curtains with a black greek key or solid black border- something simple that would also sort of bring in the black of the tv.

    1. I like the idea of floor to ceiling curtains, but I'm not sure how I would hang them to hide the tile unless I hung a curtain rod from the ceiling, ha! (Which isn't a bad idea actually...) Thanks for chiming in, Cassie!

  2. I vote for beadboard for two reasons:

    1. I've used removable wallpaper before, and I'd be worried about how it would look over grout lines. You might see the pattern of the tile.
    2. You can reuse beadboard, but can't reuse the wallpaper (and most of the time, it's expensive).

    I agree with Cassie too about hanging curtains to hide the vertical blinds. Can't wait to see how you tackle this!


    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I agree on the wallpaper being expensive and not really reusable. And I didn't know about the tile pattern issue with the removable wallpaper - I definitely wouldn't want it to show that!

  3. hmm. I was going to say wall paper. but then the fireplace is right there. so i don't know how that would do and the tv is also there. so I'm gonna say go with beadboard, and do floor to ceiling curtains for a pop of color!

  4. Between your two options, I’d also vote for beadboard. I personally just love the way it looks and it makes everything look so clean and polished. I’m wanting to put beadboard over the old tile in my bathroom! May I suggest something a little outside of the box though? A blogger I follow (Jen at epbot.com) used these awesome sytrofoam tiles (http://www.antiqueceilings.com/) on ceilings in two rooms in her house and they look fantastic! You could definitely hang them on the walls with command strips I bet! They come in tons of different styles, they’re lightweight, easy to cut (styrofoam!) and paintable. They’re pretty inexpensive as well – most of them are $2-$3 for a 20x20 tile. It could make for a very fun, interesting conversation piece of a wall! A friend just bought some to redo her ceiling and I can’t wait to see the finished product!

    As for the blinds – I’m on board with hanging curtains over them on the outsides to hide them when they’re open. I bet you could even make a valance/cornice box type thing to hide the tops of the blinds. Hanging them from the very top off the wall as close to the ceiling as you can get typically helps make the room look taller and bigger too.

    I can’t wait to see what you end up with!! :)

  5. My first thought was removable wallpaper as well - but the fireplace does present a challenge. You could potentially leave the tile around the fireplace only and do something to cover the rest of the huge wall. The curtains and new wallpaper or beadboard would really help diminish the overwhelming brown-ness of the remaining tiles.

  6. I would go with the wallpaper, or maybe you could plastidip it and peel it off later?

  7. If you want to install the classic style wet tile cutter reviews and your budget can support that, then those tiles will be appropriate. Using modern tiles is a practical solution that will fit into every design.


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