Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Frugal Décor: Fabric Wall Panels

We interrupt this regularly scheduled food blog to bring you a frugal art project. (It will be my first and last. I promise.)

When HOTUS and I moved back in December, we were confronted with a perplexing decorative dilemma: an imposingly bare 12-foot wall in our main room. The Beige Monster dwarfed our posters and photos, and buying a gigantic mirror/painting/whatever was prohibitively expensive. To make matters worse, we weren't allowed to paint the wall, or hang anything from it that would require an anchor or excessive reinforcement, making sconces and funky sculptural stuff out of the question. (Yep, #whitegirlproblems. Perhaps the #whitestgirlproblems.)

So, I started Googling solutions, and in short order, came upon this post at Bella Dia. Cute, inexpensive, and infinitely customizable, fabric wall panels seemed like a most excellent solution to our problem. Best of all, they could be completed in 90 minutes, and didn't seem to pose an enormous problem for someone who thinks "damask" is a country in Eastern Europe. (Meaning: me.)

These are my results:

Cute, right? Not bad for someone who finds macaroni necklaces too complicated. If you're interested, here's how the process went down, and how you might be able to create a similar set of panels. (Remember: This is a fool-proof project. I know, because I am that fool.)

First, you have to measure out your wall, and kind of imagine what size canvasses will fit well in the space. (You can also draw a graph, which is what HOTUS did.) While 18x22-inchers were perfect for our 12-foot wall, yours may differ.

Then, hit the stores. If your wall is like ours, you'll need:
  • Four 18x24-inch wood-frame paint canvasses
  • Four 22x28-inch bolts of your favorite fabrics (bigger is good, too)
  • A staple gun and staples
  • Measuring tape
  • A pencil
  • A hammer
  • Four nails
  • Brute strength
The cloth was a little pricey, since we headed to Zarin Fabrics (of Real Housewives fame). BUT BUT BUT. I got all four canvasses at Michael's for under $20, total. They came in packs of two, which was nice.

As for the staple gun, an old-school metal one worked best. Word of caution, though: After awhile, that thing is rough on your hands. Wear gloves if you have 'em.

Once everything is procured, it's time to start stapling. Lay a bolt of fabric pattern-side-down on a big surface, like a kitchen table. Then, lay a frame canvas-side down on top of it.

Pick a corner and fold the fabric up over the back of the frame, like you see in this picture. Then, staple it to the wood.

Do the same with the remaining three corners, taking care to keep your fabric straight in the front. If your cloth is striped or patterned, you want it to appear perfectly situated.

Once your corners are done, staple the fabric along each side of the back of the frame, so that it's pulled taut. Then, flip the whole thing over and gander at your handiwork. It should look something like this:

Continue with the remaining frames and fabrics until everything is completed.

Finally, using your pencil, measuring tape, hammer, and nails, position and hang your fabric panels on your wall. You may want 'em spaced evenly or spread out all fun-like. Really, it's up to you. To review, we did this:

And that, sweet readers, is the ballgame. Next stop: figuring out how to cover our fuse box.

Do you have a favorite decor solution? Do tell.


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Michelle said...


I like getting dollar store frames, and vintage ads or food prints. I'm making a set for my kitchen now. Cheap!

Rae said...

Just a nitpick-y sewist thing: what you bought would be "cuts" of fabric. The bolt is the full amount wrapped around a holder (sizes differ, but something like 45" x 15 yards would be considered a "bolt").

Love this idea though!

Laura said...

Ikea has awesome and cheap fabric, FYI.

Kris said...

@Rea: Thank you! I had no idea :)

Jen said...

So cool!

Christine said...

We did this same thing for a giant blank wall in our bedroom! We used fabric to match the headboard that we also made.

Leone said...

These look great!

You could also use foam core boards (can't remember the "real" name). They're super cheap, light-weight and super easy to handle.

Oh, and decorative paper would work as well. Just a few thoughts.

Angie said...

We racked our brains over covering our fuse box, which was on a kitchen wall by the back door. Gah, so ugly! Finally found a large-ish silver metal gallery frame while thrifting, and had a piece of scrap masonite cut to fit it at good ol' Home Depot. A few licks of chalkboard paint and some picture hanging wire, and now the fuse box is out of sight -- while we have a place to scribble shopping list items and sweet, sweet notes. Win-win. It's a rare but simple task to take down/rehang the chalkboard frame when a circuit breaker needs resetting.

Anonymous said...

Nice, I like that.

Kris said...

@Angie: I love that idea. Will run it by HOTUS and see what he says. Thank you!

Brenda said...

My niece, who is much craftier than I am, helped me do this a couple years ago. It was remarkably easy and looked great.

MC said...

Great post, but I'd like to argue that not knowing what to do with a large wall you cannot paint and whatnot is not a "white girl problem." I would assume that people of all races sometimes have walls they don't know what to do with, right?