Decals Are Here to Stay (for a While)

Affordable, adaptable, and temporary, the adhesive trend is sticking around.


Decals have the advantage of being replaceable if you should ever tire of the pattern.

Photo courtesy of Blik Surface Graphics

A few years ago, walls everywhere got a little bit cuter. That’s thanks to the invention of decals. These stickers, crafted from self-adhesive vinyl, have undeniable appeal. They’re both impermanent and inexpensive and come in innumerable shapes and styles. They give you a lot of color and pattern with no commitment. What other decoration can make such claims?

These qualities make them a natural choice for a child’s room. If your train-loving toddler matures into a baseball fanatic, there’s no need to change all of her decor. Just switch out her decals for a quick refresh. Since they’re even easier and cheaper to replace than paint, they’re are an ideal option for the youngest set.

Thus it’s no surprise that, for years, most of these products were aimed at children. But manufacturers have recently gotten wise to their potential for adult spaces, too, because kids aren’t the only ones who prize flexibility. Say you’re a renter, and you don’t have permission to paint your walls. Or you like the look of wallpaper, but worry you’ll tire of the pattern. Or you need to fill a big wall with something, but you can’t find an art piece that suits. Rest assured: There’s a decal for that.

One thing to remember when working with this stuff: It’s best to go big or go home. A few stickers tossed on a wall will feel chintzy and unconsidered. But a lot of them, or a single large piece, can make for a grand statement indeed.

If a dense, pattern-filled look is what you’re after, you’ll want to check out adhesive wallpaper. This is sold as tiles, usually measuring about 2 by 4 feet, that you piece together for a seamless effect. It allows you to create an accent wall, adorn the back of a bookcase, or even cover a whole room. And that’s all on your own steam, no pro required.

The goods can be had from any number of places. Livettes ( carries a wide range of geometrics, like chevron, honeycomb, and herringbone, that can be customized to nearly any color. Local favorite Hygge & West ( also offers some of their most popular designs in adhesive form. And even retail giant West Elm ( is getting in on the action and recently released a line, comprised of patterns with a hand-painted flair.

If you’re hoping for a singular decorative piece, be sure to check out Blik ( Blik offers plenty of traditionally rendered, silhouette-style decals, but it’s the partnerships with independent artists that are a must-see. One favorite: the Color Block panels from designer (and Berkeley alum) Mina Javid. They make for a mural that feels both modern and clean yet impressively massive in scale.

Decals are affordable, customizable, and only as permanent as you want them to be. With assets like that, they’re one trend that’s sure to stick around.

Sarah Coombs is an interior designer based in Alameda.