Wallflowers (aka: How To Cover A Wall With Fabric)

Favorite project ever! Ok, I probably say that to myself every month or two, but this one might reign supreme for a while. Especially in the small/easy division (our sunroom reno and Teddy’s built-ins might have given it competition if it fell into the heavy-duty upgrade category, but there’s no way it belongs there because it was so simple). Ladies & gentlemen (gentleman?), I give you… Clara’s closet:

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of covering the back wall of Clara’s closet with something fun for a while, especially since images like this inspired me to add some playful to make it feel more like a little hideaway within her room. Right after we moved in she proclaimed her closet her favorite spot in the whole house. She plays in there a ton since there’s a lot of space in the back for her dollhouse and a few other favorite toys since we store most of her clothes in her six-drawer dresser with the exception of a few hanging items – and it’s a super deep closet, clocking in at 6.5′ feet deep and 4 feet wide.

I thought we would end up using wallpaper or a stencil for some back-wall pattern, but then we came across this fabric (called Peaceful Perch by Waverly for $20 at U-Fab) and just KNEW it was the one. Clara was with us and before I could even say “what do you think?” she was rubbing her face all over it (she’s her mother’s daughter) and saying she loved the birds. Jackpot. I was going to cover that back wall with that fabric if it was the last thing I did. Update: Here’s an affiliate link to the same fabric over on amazon for any non-locals. 

So I bought three yards of it (enough to go from floor to ceiling with a little wiggle room to spare) and rejoiced that the bolt’s width was easily wide enough to cover that back wall. When we got home Clara went to color something in the office and I fed Teddy in the living room and then she walked into the living room ten minutes later and screamed “YAY! DID YOU MAKE MY CLOSET PRETTY?! I can’t wait to see it!!” Needless to say the girl never covered a wall with fabric. But neither had I.

The surprising news is that it only ended up taking about an hour and a half to adhere the fabric along that back wall and another half hour to trim it all out for a finished look, so it can’t be done in the time it takes to feed a three month old, but it can be done between feedings (even if your son is on an every-two-hours schedule). In other words, it was way less intimidating and time consuming than I initially expected. And all it set us back was the cost of the fabric, some fabric glue, and some ribbon.

The first thing I did was empty her closet.

Everything came out, including the shelves and hanging bars that you see here which I removed as I went (I needed free access to all of the nooks and corners along that back wall).

I stood on a step ladder with my staple gun and started in the top right-hand corner, stapling it nice and tight around the perimeter of the back wall. Every few inches I shot a staple in, making sure they were nice and tight against the wall, and that the fabric wasn’t wrinkled or folded. By starting in that top corner with my completely untrimmed three yards of material, I knew I could work my way down and across, keeping things tight and straight as I went, without running out of fabric. It really was that simple.

I think if I had been working with something striped or geometric in a the-naked-eye-can-tell-if-that’s-not-level way, it might have been more of a challenge, but since this print is so wild and free, I really just focused on keeping things pulled taut, and stapling them every few inches around the edge.

 I even realized that I could wrap the fabric around the shelf board on the back of the closet with a few staples on either side of it so it was nice and clean looking.

My only real warning would be that if you have a big flap of extra fabric going on like I did on that angled part (I didn’t trim the fabric at all before hanging it for fear of cutting it off at the wrong angle or taking too much off that would make the entire remnant unusable), just be sure you don’t staple it behind itself or something. I never did that, but almost did a few times. If you did it wouldn’t be the worst thing because you can just pop staples out with a flat-head screw driver if you mess up anyway.

I did that a few times if I thought I hadn’t pulled something tight enough, or when I got to the bottom of the wall and felt like the corner had a crease or a bubble it shouldn’t have. You just sort of undo a few staples and re-pull things and re-staple until you like the look.

When I finished with all of my perimeter stapling, after the obligatory victory dance with the unplugged staple gun (unplugged is the key word), I ran an exacto knife along the entire perimeter of the back wall to cut off the excess. You’ll want to put a nice new blade in there to get as clean of a cut as possible. I tried to push just hard enough to cut through the fabric but not hard enough for it to go into the drywall. Since it’s the corner and I knew I’d be adding a trim piece of ribbon for a finished look, even if I jammed it into the drywall a little, it wasn’t a big deal, but for the most part I could slide it through the fabric without digging into the wall itself.

Next came the ribbon for that nice polished edge. I held up various ribbon remnants in red, pink, blue, and white that we had on hand and John and I both liked how the pink looked because it blended into the wall color (bold colors like red made it a little busy when combined with such a bold fabric, so we liked the more seamless look of the soft blurs-into-the-wall pink option).

We didn’t have enough pink ribbon just laying around, so I ran out to JoAnn and grabbed two 6 yard spools (we calculated that we’d need around 8 yards to go around the wall’s perimeter) and also grabbed some Aileen’s Fabric Fusion glue to attach that all the way around. It was almost like clear silicone caulk, so I just ran a thin line of it down the edge of each wall…

… and stuck a pre-cut-to-size ribbon against it for each portion.

Here’s the finished result:

Once that dried (within about an hour) I brought back all the shelves and hanging rods I had removed, and put the closet back together.

Clara’s PSYCHED about it.

So is momma. Dad’s pretty keen on it too. Burger and Teddy are ambivalent, but I’ll take it.

The coolest thing about this project is that I completely expected it to be one of those kinda-complex-and-tedious jobs that are worth it in the end, but it ended up being one of those surprisingly-simple-and-straightforward projects that make you beam because it looks way more expensive and complicated than it was. We already have had a few people over and all of them thought it was wallpaper until they touched it and said “no way, it’s fabric?!”

What did you guys do this weekend? Any kids-room stuff? Fabric projects? Victory dances with your 16 pound baby? Sometimes I feel like all I manage to get accomplished is to feed these kids and keep them semi-clean, so fun little projects like this are pretty exciting. Especially when I can squeeze them in between feedings. We also managed to get a little hiking in this weekend, and although it involved a particularly “memorable” port-o-potty visit with Clara, it was pretty awesome while it lasted.


  1. jp says

    I’m getting pop up spam surveys on your site. Not sure what you can do about it, but wanted to let you know.

  2. Gilly says

    I’m a step-mom (read: not bio at all) and I’ve never had littles, but one of my friends with 2 in diapers said, “If everyone has clean butts and is fed, it was a good day.” So, it sounds like you’re winning! Beautiful addition to Clara’s closet, mama!

  3. Julia H says

    What a cool idea and a wonderful project! I also wanted you to know that when I landed in the post a video ad started playing really loudly in my headphones. It was a bummer because it startled me! I think I remember y’all saying you didn’t use video ads so wanted to point it out. Thanks!

    • says

      ARGH! Ads are never authorized to have sound! No idea how that slipped through. Do you know what it was an ad for, and what spot it was in (ex: the first one on the sidebar under our bio, etc). Thanks! We hope to get that blocked asap!


    • Julia H says

      Yes very first box underneath your bio box and above your search box. It says “viewster” when I went back to look at it a second time.

    • Megan H. says

      I’m getting the same one. Its the 300×250 on the right rail. Its a Viewster unit that’s constantly playing. It has shown celebrity gossip, a dish washing detergent ad, etc.

  4. says

    Oh, my gosh! That is rad!!! Rad!!! :-)

    And I totally know what you mean about the rush from doing something creative when taking care of (delightful) children.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Erinn says

    Looks great! What a fun pop of color and pattern! I’m curious why you didn’t use liquid starch to adhere it to the wall though. It works just as well but is easier to remove and doesn’t leave holes. Just a thought…

    • says

      Meant to mention that in the post! We actually debated liquid starch (we featured a tutorial for using that in our first book) but realized that in this case we didn’t want it to be easy to remove (we pictured Clara or one of her friends peeling it down!). When we saw a few pro tutorials for wall upholstery using staples, we were all for it, just to keep it firmly up there – and spackling tiny staple holes down the line shouldn’t be too tough.


  6. says

    That’s so cute! What a clever idea. My only query is if there’s a risk of the fabric sagging over time. I suppose in a more humid environment, that might be possible. Closets tend to be cooler in my experience, so probably not something you have to worry about.

  7. Steph says

    That is adorable and I *love* the fabric.

    My roommate and I had a party on Saturday so we did some serious house cleaning and then spent the next few hours walking around the house going “WHO LIVES HERE?” It’s just sort of descended into madness lately so seeing it so clean is a shock to the system. I actually stopped walking halfway down the stairs this morning because I was confused. LOL

  8. Meagan says

    Love the addition to the closet! Such a fun hideaway play area – those are the best when you are a little kid. Also, I am kinda dying to know what was so ‘memorable’ about the port-a-potty visit? I know that makes me weird :)

    • says

      Oh man, it’s too gross to type out, but it involved Clara seeing something extremely unpleasant in the port-o-potty before using it and insisting that we flush it (which, as you know isn’t possible) so we had this long detailed chat about how port-o-potties work and walked out to see that a family was waiting in line and heard the whole thing and was cracking up.


    • says

      Hahah, I wanted to know too! My active imagination was taking me to much grosser situations (such as falling in, *gags*). Port-o-potties makes me thankful for modern-day plumbing!

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