This is so painfully easy (and cheap) that even *I* could do it. We moved into a house with hideous warped mismatched fake wood paneling. All the paint in the world wouldn't help with this place and we didn't have a lot of money to spend so I found a cheap alternative. For under $100 I "renovated" the walls in my living room and dining room. It took me 3 days to do both rooms and that was taking my time and making very little mess.
You will find many sites with fancy instructions on how to do this, I'm gonna cut to the chase and give you the "cheap and effective" method. May not last a lifetime, but it'll certainly outlast your average wall treatments.
Rolls of crafting paper (how many depends on how much wall you have to cover)
* The living room was done in brown paper much like paper bags, while the dining room was done in rose paper. Both can be purchased from a local hardware store. You can use colored papers but they can get rather expensive. These rolls were several hundred square feet per roll. I think for the 2 rolls of brown and 1 roll of rose we paid a whopping $20 total.
* A 3 gallon bucket cost right around $25
Paint roller tray
* Makes the whole act of pasting the paper much easier
Natural fiber paintbrush (wide)
* I say use a natural fiber because brushes tend to shed after a lot of use and if you get a little plastic bristle stuck on the wall it will eventually peel out and make a weak spot that can later peel. The natural fiber brushes will soak up the paste and become one with the wall (how zen...).
OPTIONAL - Sealant or poly clear coating.
* I left mine Au Natural and they look good I think...but some folks like it shiny and dark. The sealants will made the paper look much darker and tend to get a glazed look. I just don't like it so I didn't do it.
Ok, here's where it gets fun. First off, you're gong to want to put something down on the floor...if only you had a large roll of crafting paper...hmmmm. Cover the floors in the immediate area that you are working on. You're not going to cover massive square footage all at once, so a 8-10 foot wide section is sufficient. Plan on getting this crap everywhere. Wallpaper paste is gooey and is somehow attracted to hair. Put on a hat or just plan on washing your hair a couple of times in a row, it comes out rather easy.
You'll notice I didn't say anything about gloves. I am totally anti-glove with non-caustic materials. Half the fun of winding down from doing this work is picking the wallpaper paste boogers off your hands. I don't get out much ya see...
Some people like the crinkled look, some go for the smooth. I'll tell you the truth, it all looks the same in the end and wrinkling all that paper up made my hands cramp up for days after.
Start off by tearing the straight edges off the paper in one long strip about 4 inches wide. Tear the long edge pieces into saucer sized pieces (you can use whatever size you're comfortable with, this was the size that worked for me). Make sure you keep the pieces with the flat edge separate from the "middle pieces". You'll use the edges for the top and bottom borders and around doors and windows (this avoids the need for razor blades). Then tear up the "middle pieces" and put them in a different pile. I had a pair of cardboard boxes marked EDGE and CENTER and would sit at night and tear the paper while I watched tv. It takes a while, have patience.
Once you have a ton of paper torn up, get into something old that you don't mind getting nasty with wallpaper paste and lay your drop cloth or paper on the floor and dig in.
Mix your wallpaper paste with water in a bucket or gallon jug at a ratio of about 1:6 or 1:8 depending on how you like it. You want to have it thin enough to spread easily with a paintbrush brush but not the consistency of water. Play around with the consistency and see what works for you. Once you have a gallon or so of mixed paste, pour a few cups into the paint roller tray and grab a stack of edge pieces from your paper stack. Paint a section of wall a little bigger than the piece you are using and stick the paper on the wall with the edge pressed into the straight edge of the ceiling or floor (or window or door, etc). If you want to get real detailed, you can always add crown molding or baseboard over it but I didn't. Having the edges lined up was easy enough and looks tailored. Keep adding pieces overlapping the previous and be sure to slather the wall behind and on top of each added piece with more paste using your brush (or fingers if you really like to get squishy).
Don't just storm across the walls and do the whole row overlapping like fish scales, unless that's the look you want. I staggered between edge and middle pieces to keep it random looking. when you have a section a few feet across on the edges done then go back and do the same thing with the "middle pieces" and be sure to be random with the placement. Feel free to modify the pieces on the fly. I went all willy-nilly with the placement then went back and filled in the "holes" with scraps and it really broke up any patterns I accidentally made. Make sure you paint over each piece with the paste to seal it in and kind of squeegee out any bubbles. Make sure you paint the section to be covered as well or the pieces won't stick (duh).
When you put pieces in the corner, make sure you don't line up edges or it will eventually peel. overlap the corners and make them snug into the corner using the brush or your fingers, just be careful not to tear through the paper. If you do then just slap another piece over it.
This method of wall covering is very easy to keep nice and neat, if you get a tear or scrape, slap a piece back over it and it's all patched up. I've never written out directions before so if I made it hard to understand just ask and I'll clear things up best I can.
Also, since looking through the past galleries I noticed cats in just about every pic, I have made sure that a cat (and even a bird or two) was included in mine since it seems to be the law.
I was dumb and didn't take step by step photos but the instructions are simple as breathing, so you can figure it out. Here's the finished products!