Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fabric Covered Walls

A stylist knows how to manipulate things to get a pretty picture. It's all about smoke and mirrors.  Many things can be accomplished when you are armed with a staple gun and/or a glue gun.

I love wallpaper. But I don't know how to put it up, and I hate the usual prep of having to paint a wall with primer before you put up the paper. It seems like redundant work. I also am a serial decorator, and wallpaper is too permanent, and hard to remove.

So over the years I cover walls with fabric. It's a down and dirty thing, with no crazy prep. I measure the wall, figure out yardage (and always buy 10% extra for the fudge factor). Sometimes I buy queen or king size quilting batting to use under the fabric to pad the walls a bit. But even this is not always necessary. Then I load up my lady staple gun, the EasyShot, with JT21 staples 3/8", and let her rip.

Black Chinosereie

After years of doing event design work, where massive yardage of fabric can be used to create and cover walls and festoon ceilings, I am very comfortable in this medium. Right now there are three rooms in our home using fabric on the walls.

#1 Master Bedroom - Burlap fabric wall in the bedroom disguises a door  and creates a textured accent wall- Interior design by Valorie Hart - photo by Sara Essex Bradley

The wall was first padded with quilt batting, then covered with burlap, and finished with rope trim hot glued over staples

Rope detail on burlap covered wall - We have had this up for six years and love it - I just vacuum it once in awhile

The latest fabric wall  project is in the room we call our dance parlor. It is mostly empty of furniture, so we can give a private tango lesson here. It is also the second of two small living rooms that adjoin one another. The dance parlor opens onto the front door, so in one sense it is a large entry hall/room.

#2 - Valorie Hart guest bedroom as shown in Undecorate - fabric covered wall hides a pass through door - Instead of draping the four poster bed, the fabric was used on the wall - photo by Melanie Avecedo

The other side of the  guest room which  has two fabric covered walls -In this case I used canvas drop cloths, with quilt batting stapled underneath, and then stapled at the top in loose swags -  photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Detail of the canvas drop cloths stapled at the top in soft swags

This is a pantry Alberto made to roll in and out, tucked under the stairs in the kitchen - I stapled the black and white zig-zag chevron fabric on the front as the pantry door - I can change it whenever I like

Recently we had some major work done to one side of our house due to some very hungry termites. The mirrors in the dance parlor had to be taken down, when the house was jacked up. Once I saw the bare wall again, dreams of wallpaper danced in my head. So I went to and perused the very cute and reasonable designer print fabrics they have.  I was inspired by a Clarence House wallpaper saw in the book Undecorate. So I ordered the fabric, and on the same day it arrived, I put it up.

The third room -  Valorie Hart adds a fabric covered wall

This is how the wall looked before I put the fabric up

The same view into the room now - I think it looks more finished visually

I love the color. The black background is fabulous, and the branches and birds have a Chinoiserie feeling. The silk lime green drapes look great with the black, and the gray/brown walls look fresh again too. As much as I am a constant decorator, the wall color has been the same in this room for nearly seven years, and it migrated to the living room about three years ago. I have been toying with repainting in a new color, but honestly, no other color is beckoning. Doing the one wall with the fabric, has refreshed the whole space.

The Wisteria knock-off chest got moved into the dance parlor, and one of the white mirrors was added

I moved some furniture around. The Wisteria knock-off from the dining room/office moved against the fabric wall. The Union Jack moved to where the tray/cart table was, and that table moved into the dining room as a perfect drinks cart. Only two of the white mirrors made it back into the dance parlor.
Since I look onto the dance parlor from the living room, and it is an extension of the living room, I never was truly satisfied at how empty in an unfinished way the dance room looked. It seemed an after thought waiting for some more furniture.

The room is like a large entry hall

I love how the lime green silk drapes look with the black fabric covered wall

The cart got moved from the front door and is now in the dining room/office used as bar

Now with the fabric covered wall and the newly moved furniture in place, this rooms feels visually "full", the room looks furnished without sacrificing space to dance.

So big bank for the buck - fabric cost $70., box of staples $2. The print is very forgiving, so staples don't really show enough to cover them with trim. I had to fudge matching the repeat as the fabric didn't repeat tin the same way wallpaper does. I also had to fiddle a little turning a small edge of the fabric under on the perimeter. But really, this whole project, complete with moving furniture took about an hour and-a-half.

I love this chest in front of the fabric covered wall - It makes a pretty picture - I did not put padding behind the fabric, but just stapled it directly to the wall, turning the edges under, and matching the repeat - I used three full widths, and a smaller piece under the window, and covered the base boards to get maximum visual punch out of the fabric

If you try this at home, you must suspend belief in utter perfection. It is a perfect enough use of smoke and mirrors to make a pretty picture.

With our friend Yvonne one night before we went out dancing tango

Please become a Follower (go to the right hand margin) on this my new blog site, and please add my new blog address to your blog list:


  1. That looks awesome! Great job!
    Best - Hallie

  2. Love it and yes, the room looks fuller. Beautiful!

  3. great ideas abound! I love that idea - I'm thinking of doing something similar in my foyer but one of the walls leads into a hall - not a corner - so you would see the edge. Do you think hot gluing trim would hide that in such a noticeable spot? Hope this question makes sense?! Thanks! Love your blog!
    - Boo Hazard

  4. You did it again Girl...outstanding!

  5. Holy cow this is absolutely stunning! Completely in love with your style!

  6. Photos are amazing! Especially love the leaf pattern. Looks great!

    Jamie Herzlinger

  7. Celeste, You never cease to amaze me...but honie I know from all the Event design we both did from Madrid to New York...that this was done blindfolded...I'm surprised it took you an hour and a half...Love it...and you...Michael

  8. i thought you were through decorating your house. but no, you go and change it up completely, again. what a difference - love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    come put fabric up in my house - you make it sound so easy. it can't be that easy!


  9. I think we need to reshoot that room for nohl, no?
    love it!!

  10. Do you staple into some wood trip (picture/chair/crown molding) or actually into the walls? Does it damage the walls at all?

  11. I am sooooooooooo ready to cover my bed room wall. Thanks fror all the cool ideas but can some onr send me one with flat to the wall and trimed?

  12. That is an amazing house! Thanks for sharing. :)