Throwback Thursday – Fabric Wall Coverings

I see this #tbt business all over the place and though I don’t hashtag, and unless I get a fairly in-depth how to lesson, probably never will, I figure what better title for this post than Throwback Thursday?  This is a project from about 3 years ago when we first moved into our rental.

This is an old project that I stumbled upon pictures of and thought it would be GREAT to share. For any renters out there or any indecisive/design obsessed home owners, this is a great “quick fix” or long term solution that is easily removable either when your lease ends or when your design ADD kicks in (that isn’t politically correct is it?).

I got the idea for this project from the Nate Berkus Show (may it rest in peace, sorry Nate).  At the time we had just moved into our apartment and it was a giant white box with sweet ’70s parquet floors, I was desperate to add some colour somewhere but we didn’t know how long we would be there and weren’t keen on painting just to have to paint it back when we left soooooooo when this little project came up I marched on over to Fabricland and perused the discounted fabric (as I always do).

Fabric shopping Side Note – I basically never buy anything for full price at Fabricland, I love the clearance and discounted tables and if you can’t find what you like there, chat with the ladies and they will generally give you the scoop on when the next sale is coming up.  I was able to find a HUGE piece of a neutral tonal sheer stripe for about $8-$10 total and then “splurged” a little on a green and natural leaf printed outdoor fabric.  I decided I didn’t want a whole wall of print (because lets be honest, I wasn’t breaking the bank on this venture) and so for the other half of the wall I got a green solid that matched the green in the print.  I am pretty sure the lady who cut my fabric looked at me like I had 5 heads that day when I told her I would be starching the fabric to my wall but don’t let them discourage you, you can do this, it is so easy!

After stalking the laundry aisles of every walmart and grocery store in the city I decided that this liquid starch that Nate spoke of is unheard of in Canada and after a little on the spot iPhone web browsing decided I could make my own.  So about 4 boxes of cornstarch later (hey, its green and environmentally friendly) I took my fabric and my recent investment in the cornstarch market home to tackle this project.

Liquid Starch Recipe: In a bowl bucket stir 1/4 cup corn starch into 1/2 a cup cold water, then add 4 cups of boiling water and stir (I used a whisk).

Now I recommend getting a large bucket to do this but for some reason I opted to use these giant hot pink dollar  store plastic bowls (which we still have) to mix up my starch.  The first batch mixed up like a dream but subsequent batches were not going as well, here is the trick.  Your water has to be boiling hot, completely, utterly, scald yourself and go immediately to emerg, boiling hot.  If you are impatient and think “oh I can pour the water in when the kettle is bubbling and not boiling,” you’ll be wrong! I speak from experience as an impatient decorator  highly skilled professional (ha!).  p.s making your own liquid starch is a HUGE money saver and did I mention it is environmentally friendly!

Once you have mixed up your liquid starch you will probably want to let it cool (at least slightly) before getting started. Once the mixture is useable, then you can get to starching up your fabric. I did a combo method that seemed to work best.  I would soak the fabric in the bowl of liquid starch as well as roll some onto the wall, this seemed to give the best tackiness.  I found some of the fabric would slide a bit when putting it on the wall (the heavier fabric for sure) so I used small finishing nails to help hold it up until it dried.  Once you have your fabric up you will want to smooth out the bubbles as well as any excess liquid to promote a faster drying time and once that is all said and done you will have new “coloured” walls that can be easily removed at any time.

Here was our final result.

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I added some ribbon to cover the seam between the two fabrics and to act as a “faux” chair rail.  If this was in our own house you could totally add the real deal to make this a completed look but the ribbon worked great for a short term rental solution.

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And when you are done and stare at the big blank wall next to your new pretty wall with hate, you can run out to the dollar store and purchase 8 canvases for $2 a piece and create a mimicked artwork of your patterned wall to fill that ugly blank wall.

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I am in no way an artist but I was pretty happy with how this turned out.

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Here’s the striped fabric I told you about, I ended up buying a flat sheet in a colour to coordinate with the stripe for the adjoining wall.

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Check out those stripes (Teeka’s first guest appearance)!

I am not kidding about how easy this project is, it can be a little messy so if you are working in a carpeted room I would suggest laying down some protective plastic (I just gave our floors a good mopping when all was said and done).  It is such a great way to add a pop of colour or a fun print you don’t want to wallpaper or stencil up on the walls.

So for the nearly 2 years we lived in this apartment, Patrick definitely doubted the “easy removal” aspect of this project.  I had faith in Mr. Nate Berkus but Patrick wasn’t so sure and seeing as I had mixed up my own cornstarch I really couldn’t place all the blame on my man Nate if things went off the rails completely, but you will be happy to know that when it came time to move we just grabbed a corner and peeled and it came down even easier than it went up.  I gave the walls a good wipe down with just some water as they had a dry roughness to them but we still aren’t sure if that was from the starch or the cheap white paint they used.

So that is how we added a pop of colour to our white walled apartment.  I am thinking it would be fun to do this project in the house but not sure where.  This is by no means a tutorial but if you want a more in depth explanation on how to liquid starch fabric to your walls, let me know and I will have a great excuse to do a tutorial!

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