interview: lauren + derek’s new book: wallpaper projects

by Grace Bonney

today i’m overjoyed to be posting about lauren smith and derek fagerstrom’s new book: wallpaper projects: more than 50 craft ideas for your home, from accents to art (chronicle)! this dynamic design duo owns one of the coolest shops in san francisco, the curiosity shoppe, and also run one of the most popular columns on d*s, diy wednesdays. and today i’m thrilled to celebrate the launch of their latest book of over 50 fantastic diy wallpaper projects! lauren and derek have been working awfully hard on this project and when i first got the book i was practically jumping around i was so proud of them. all of their hard work definitely paid off- each page is bursting with great ideas for sprucing up your home using wallpaper in interesting ways. whether they’re teaching you how to wallpaper your first wall, or just makeover your tv trays and medicine cabinet, lauren and derek’s passion for diy projects is infectious.

today we’re in for a real treat because not only are they sharing two projects from the book (which is out today!) but lauren and derek were also kind kind enough to sit down with me for a quick interview about the book. the interview runs after the jump but i just wanted to say a big “congratulations!” to lauren and derek on their seriously awesome new book. i’ve already re-covered our medicine cabinet based on one of their projects (which got the thumbs up from ac, a hard thing to do) and can’t wait to jump to the next one. congrats to lauren and derek! (also, if you’re a lena corwin fan– lena designed a wallpaper pattern printed on the book jacket that you can use for one of the projects in the book!)

CLICK HERE for lauren and derek’s interview after the jump and stay tuned for two crafts projects from their new book, wallpaper projects, next!


1. Hi Lauren and Derek! Congratulations on your new book, Wallpaper Projects! Before we dive into talking about the book, could you introduce yourselves for those readers who aren’t familiar with you or your column at D*S?

Hi! We’re Derek and Lauren. Thanks so much for having us (yet again)!!! We own the Curiosity Shoppe in lovely San Francisco, where we sell all sorts of fun design objects, art books, handmade items, one-of-a-kind gifts, unique odds and ends and do-it-yourself kits. We also have a gallery where we’re lucky enough to show amazing art by local artists and friends. Some of you may have seen our DIY projects here every Wednesday…and we also have our own little blog, smartsandcrafts.com.

2. What inspired you to create this book? And why did you choose to focus on Wallpaper as a material?

We’ve always been fascinated and intimidated by wallpaper. When we were growing up wallpaper was in a bit of a funk. More people were tearing it down than putting it up. But as any Design*Sponge reader has seen, in the past year there have been tons of amazing artists, designers, and manufacturers out there reinventing and reinvigorating the stuff. Now that we’ve spent so much time with it, we love it and can’t imagine not having it around.

3. What sort of projects can people expect from this book? Is there something for everyone, or is this for more experienced crafters?

There is definitely something for everyone in the book. If you can handle a pair of scissors and a glue stick, you’re pretty much set. Even the more intense looking decorating projects and installations really aren’t all that tricky. And that’s a big part of what we hope this book will do, we really just want to demystify wallpaper and wallpapering and show people how much fun you can have with it.

4. Wallpaper is often seen as a luxury item because some of the most popular styles are quite expensive, but your book is all about using small amounts that make the pricing a bit more reasonable. Do you have any tips for finding budget-friendly wallpaper or wallpaper samples?

It’s true there are a lot of expensive papers out there, and if you’ve got the resources, they’re totally worth the investment. You get a lot of bang for your buck because nothing transforms a room like wallpaper. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative, there are still lots of affordable papers out there. We also had great luck finding wallpaper sample books and vintage papers on ebay and craigslist. There’s a whole chapter in the book dedicated to alternative applications for wallpaper, using it as an accent instead of the main element of the room, and that can significantly cut down on costs. And as you said, there are dozens of projects in the book that use little scraps of paper, many of which (even the fancy expensive ones) you can get for free if you call asking for samples.

5. Do you have a favorite project (or 2) from the book- and if so, why are they your favorites?

Hmmm…that’s tough. Off the top of our heads we’d say the TV Trays are a favorite. They are ridiculously easy to make, and totally transform something you would normally hide into something you want to have out for everyone to see. And that’s perfect for us because we spend an embarrassing amount of time with our TV Trays. In creating that project we also rediscovered the magic of clear contact paper, which make your trays water proof and easy to wipe clean.

Another favorite was the paper we made by scanning a piece of fabric. It’s a super simple way to create a 100% custom wall covering. And with all the amazing textiles out there, the possibilities are endless.

6. For those who don’t know, you two are partners in life as well as business- what is like this living  and working together- does it make projects like this book any easier or harder? Are your tastes similar or different?

Well, we’ve been together since we were kids, so our tastes have had plenty of time to grow and develop side by side. At this point, we know what we like. And we’re super lucky—working together is a very natural, healthy, fun and important part of our relationship. We can’t imagine either of us doing it without the other. When one of us is struggling with doubt or motivation issues, the other one goes into cheerleader mode and saves the day. The downside of course is that we don’t ever really turn it off.

7. For me, you guys have always been such great examples of what people can do with a little creativity and hard work- what is it about making things with your own two hands that you love so much, or prefer over buying new things?

Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE buying stuff. But at the end of the day it is just stuff. And we’ve always tried our best to live a creative lifestyle. Making things for around the house or to wear is just something we do to keep it interesting. We’re also big fans of learning new skills, picking up new hobbies, different crafts, whatever. So experimenting and making stuff satisfies that part for us as well. And sure, we can’t afford to buy everything on our wishlist, but as anyone who has ever made anything knows….it’s just more fun and satisfying to be surrounded by things you’ve made.

8. What was the process of making these projects like- did you make them all in your home- and how long did it take?

Most of our craft projects are done at our dining room table, but during the production of this book (which came together in only a couple of months) we had to make about 10 projects a week, some of which were BIG. Fortunately the wonderfully talented and supremely generous Stacy of pancake & franks has a lovely studio in the neighborhood, and was gracious enough to let us make a big mess in there.

And now that we’re naming names, we wanted to mention that the amazing Lena Corwin designed the inside of the book jacket (which you can use to make a project from the book), and we were lucky enough to work with a brilliant photographer, Erin Kunkel.

9. Any funny stories from the process or projects that didn’t work during the process?

It didn’t seem so funny at the time, but it did feel odd to be walking around looking at everything and thinking, “Can I put wallpaper on that?”

10. Were there any wallpaper brands or designers you discovered in this process that you now love? (If not, who are some of your favorites?)

Geoff McFetridge for Pottok, Nama Rococo, Studio Printworks for hand printed, high-end, but also discovered more established brands like Thibault and Bradbury & Bradbury for classic prints and traditional motifs. There’s this site called Design*Sponge that has done a pretty decent job covering the wallpaper trend. People should check that out.

11. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Like we said earlier, we’d be happy if we could do something to demystify wallpapering. It really isn’t hard to do, the new papers and adhesives are safe, durable, and so simple to work with. For people worried about ruining the paper or their walls, it’s really a forgiving process, and papers can be easily removed if you move on.

12. Lastly- what’s up next for you guys? Are there any new projects coming soon?

We’ve got a few projects in the works (more books, more fun stuff for the Shoppe), but right now we’re just looking forward to a kick-ass wedding in Savannah.


Thanks so much, Lauren and Derek! You can order Lauren and Derek’s new book, “Wallpaper Projects: More than 50 Craft Ideas for Your Home, from Accents to Art“, right here at Amazon, or here at Chronicle.

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