If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive way to add more colour to your walls, but you want to reserve the right to change your mind or move, all you need is some choice fabric and a little starch.
Using fabric to "wallpaper" your walls or add decorative accents to them is much more simple and hassle-free than painting or dealing with wallpaper glue. The fabric is also easily removable, so it's a great solution for seasonal interior decorating, people who like to change up their space often, and those with rental agreements that forbid modifying the walls at all.
You can cover a whole room in fabric, just one wall, or part of a wall for a mural-like or wainscoting effect, or use stencils and cut the fabric out into different shapes for removable decorations, as illustrated here.
Ready? Let's put some life into our walls.
- Fabric — measure enough, plus 2 or more inches, to cover the area or create the shapes you want. You can mix up the fabrics if desired (and recycle old t-shirts, bed sheets, etc.), but lightweight ones tend to work best. Pre-wash the fabrics and also make sure you choose fabric that doesn't bleed much and isn't very fuzzy, so you don't have problems when it comes time to remove the fabric.
- Starch — liquid starch or spray starch. You can also make your own solution by mixing ¼ cup of corn starch in ½ cup of water and then stirring in 4 cups of boiling water; let the thickened mixture cool before using/
- A sponge or paint roller
- Razor knife or sharp scissors (if making shapes)
- Optional: If making shapes, and you want to use the razor knife to do so, you'll also need a cutting mat or other surface for cutting and stencils (unless you plan on freehanding it). A level and painter's tape can also be helpful for aligning the fabric shapes on your wall.
First, wipe down and wash the wall to remove dust and dirt. Tape plastic to the baseboards and protect your floors or nearby objects with an absorbent drop cloth.
If you're making a fabric decoration, either freehand draw or use stencils to trace the shapes you want on the reverse side of the fabric, then cut them out using a very sharp utility knife or scissors.
Apply the Starch
In applying the starch to make your fabric sticky, there are two schools of thought. You can soak the fabric in the starch directly, by swishing it around in the bowl of liquid starch or spraying it liberally with the spray starch. Otherwise, you would apply the starch to the wall and then attach the fabric.
Soaking the fabric and then stretching it on the wall can get messy and the fabric can be unwieldy; you might needa second pair of hands for this. On the other hand, soaked fabric may stick better (and need fewer touch-ups) than one that's just pressed against a starch-sprayed wall. Either way, you're likely to get messy—wear gloves to protect your hands from drying out.
Covering Large Areas with Fabric
If you're applying the fabric to a whole wall (or large swath of wall), cut the fabric into panels to make it easier to work with. Start at the top left corner, placing the inch or more of overhang above the starting point. Then smooth the fabric onto the wall, getting rid of the bubbles with your sponge or hands like you would wallpaper.
Continue with the rest of the area, making the edge of each fabric panel meet, and providing an overlap at windows and door frames.
When the fabric is completely dry, use your utility knife to trim the edges. You can use wood trim to cover up the edges if you like.
Changing Your Wall Covering
When it's time to change the wall covering, simply dampen it with water and peel it off. Mild soap will get the starch off the walls, and you can even reuse the fabric for other purposes after washing. The nice thing about this flexibility is that you can adjust the fabric and shapes as needed if they're a bit crooked or the pattern isn't perfect (as in these photo examples). If you're a perfectionist, you might want to stay away from shapes that have a lot of detailing or curves.
Depending on the fabrics you choose, this can be a pretty inexpensive wall covering. You can add colour, texture, and unique artistic accents to your space using fabrics you already have … and then remove and replace them whenever you feel like it.
Have you pulled off a similar fabric-based wall renovation? Suggestions on the process? We're all ears in the comments.