Monday, March 14, 2011

How (Not) to Apply a Fabric Wallcovering

When I started my laundry room makeover I knew I wanted to make a big impact in that small room.  I loved the idea of a bold, scroll-y pattern on the main wall but completely lack the patience to apply an intricate stencil with paint.  Enter fabric applied with liquid starch!

I learned of this idea recently from The Nate Berkus Show - Nate called it his favorite design secret!  Fabric wallcoverings are a great solution for renters because they are temporary and don't damage the walls underneath.  Since I removed the cabinets in the laundry room applying fabric also helped me to avoid patching the damaged drywall.  Win!

Applying fabric to walls is a fairly simple process but can get messy.  It's also easier if you have help!


  • Fabric of your choice
  • Liquid starch
  • Sharp Utility Knife
  • Straight pins
  • Small foam roller
  • Large putty knife or other straight edge tool

1. Cut your fabric to fit the wall you are covering, making sure to leave a few extra inches on each side to accomodate shrinkage.  Several sources, including Nate, recommend washing and drying your fabric beforehand so the colors do not run.  I skipped this step because I was in a hurry and was lucky not to have any problems.  Note: I chose to work with a shower curtain because I liked the pattern.  Shower curtain material is thicker and stiffer than most sheets or home decor fabric and this made it more difficult to apply and penetrate with the liquid starch (it may also have been treated to be water resistant...).  Next time I will choose a thinner fabric to work with.

2. Working in sections, apply liquid starch to the wall with the foam roller.  Note: If you can't find liquid starch at the grocery store, according to the Argo website FAQ you can make your own!  Stir 1/4 cup corn starch into 1/2 cup cold water.  Then pour in 4 cups of boiling water and mix it up.
I used about half the recipe for the section of wall I did.
3. Place fabric over the starched section, making sure to keep the pattern straight.  Then roll liquid starch over the fabric.

4. Smooth out the fabric with the putty knife and use straight pins to help hold it in place.  Let dry.  If fabric bubbles up after drying you can go back and reapply more starch to smooth it out.  I had a few difficult sections I had to "re-starch" a number of times.

5. With a sharp utility knife trim away the excess fabric.  Note: Due to the thickness of the shower curtain I had some difficulty making straight cuts.
My horrible trim job.
Not to worry!  I covered the rough cuts near the countertop with a piece of quater round.
Beautiful! What rough cuts?
In one corner near the ceiling I also touched up the bare spots with black marker - no one is getting that close to the ceiling to see it.  Nate recommends applying coordinating ribbon to hide these seam areas.
I love the big impact of this easy project and if I change my mind it will just peel right off.  Do you need a bold, no commitment design upgrade in your house?

Thanks for visiting!

Get Your Craft on with Today's Creative Blog
Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. I really like this. I might try it in my laundry room!

  2. Oh how pretty. Yes the Nate Show "borrowed" that idea from the Queen of Crafts, Carol Duvall. She did this technique back in the 80's. Yes cotton is much easier to work with.

    I did this wall (garage door) in 2002 with cotton fabrics

    This blogger used steam'a'seam

  3. It looks great!!! Love that pattern!

  4. what a cool project, it turned out beautifully. i have a party that starts later today, i would love it if you shared this!

  5. I'm thinking about doing this in my guest room as an accent wall. I remember seeing it on a bunch of decorating shows back in the day when there were a bunch of decorating shows on TV :)

    I didn't know you could make your own liquid starch!

  6. This is a great idea. Your wall looks fabulous. Great job!!!


  7. WOW WOW WOW!! I cannot wait to try this...looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  8. You just made my year! I rent and while I could paint, I'd have to prime it when I leave. I could use this technique to add a little pizazz to some of the walls in my house! Thanks for the awesome directions!

  9. You did a fantastic job! I love it

  10. Great post! This was really popular in on-base housing when we were in the army. And for good reason - it is a great way to transform cookie-cutter (and concrete block) housing.

  11. thanks for sharing this at my party!!!

  12. Looks Fantastic!! Love the way it came out! Visiting from Get Your Craft On and I am a new follower!
    Have a great day!

  13. Ya
    Nice post having the excellent information......
    Utility Knife

  14. wow, it makes SUCH a big bold impact! love it :)

  15. I featured this on my blog today!

  16. Sarah, you did a marvelous job! I love the pattern, and the tutorial was great. :) Beautiful!!

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :)

  17. Love it! I wonder if I could get this to work in my laundry's out in the garage, so the wall I have to work with isn't primed or anything, I don't think. I'm guessing the the water in the solution could damage the drywall then??? Maybe I should prime, then do this. Anyway, great job! And I'm your newest follower :)

  18. Great idea! And I change my mind all the time so this would be a perfect alternative to actual paint!

  19. SO CUTE. I hot-glued a pretty patterned sheet to the nasty concrete walls in my work space. Your version looks waaaaayyy better than mine!

  20. I LOVE how this brightens up your whole space! I included this post in my weekly Wednesday's Wowzers.

    Thanks for inspiring!


  21. This is flippin' genius. I'm stealing it, mark my words. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  22. Very cool! Thanks for this. I am living in Holland now and they are VERY strict on renters. No holes in the walls, etc... So one wall is painted a lime green color that makes me ill when I look at it. So I bought a great blue fabric and another pattern fabric to place in the middle.
    How do I do a layering effect?

  23. I love your laundry room! I'm getting ready to try this on my ugly 1970's kitchen cabinet doors in my kitchen (yikes!). I can't find starch in the stores, so I'll try your recommendation. Thanks!

  24. I really loved some of these great ideas on this blog regarding unusual and cool uses of wallpaper in unconventional ways. Very inspirational.

  25. Some great posts regarding home wallpaper as well as great deals on wallpaper products for the home decorators out there!

  26. it looks great..turned out it.

    Roman shades concord, ca

  27. Loving the robot chalkboard sticker. I have boys and they would love this! kids wall decals

  28. Rehab has already been completed turnkey rental, including new paint, flooring, kitchen cabinets, updated bathroom, and more rental properties .

  29. The fabric wallcovering information is really true and I agree with them totally. The best thing is it is beneficial for all the people and because of this reason I suggest to read this information.

  30. What finish was the paint you successfully applied this on? Eggshell, satin, gloss or flat? I have flat paint and they stain so easy, I'm concerned that this would "stain" the flat paint and cause more grief for me in the end...

  31. 30 years ago hire house owners, which include us at the time, certainly not compensated considerably attention to tenant qualifications tests or maybe background record checks. In fact most of us employed a short hire or maybe rental style grabbed in a local fixed store that will basically simply essential a few bits of information that is personal that has a personal at the end of the 1 site.
    tenant screening

  32. Short message service (SMS) or text messaging is the way of today. People compress their ideas into 160 characters or less to make the message fit in one grammar check

  33. i don't think i ever saw this post- pinned it!


Related Posts with Thumbnails