Relenting to the reality that I'd probably want at least a fighting chance at seeing some of the $1,200 I'd laid down as a security deposit, I opted for what seemed like the most harmless space: the plywood wall above my white brick fireplace (you know what they say about playing up your best assets -- this was by far the apartment's greatest). The surface measured about 5 ft. by 6 ft. and was bordered by the mantel's brick, which continued to the ceiling, so the margin for error seemed acceptably small for my first wallpaper job. One $15 roll of antique paper from Ebay, a pot of wallpaper glue, two brushes, a flattener, and one slightly sticky evening later, these were the results (note strategic hanging of large photograph to minimize terror of visible bumps):
Total cost: <$35. Bam!