Decorating

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 Dena Home 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.

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.

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Anniversary Art

As of Monday, John and I have been married for seven years. Or a hand and two fingers, as Clara likes to joke (“what’s seven?… A HAND AND TWO FINGERS!” *maniacal laughter*).

As you can imagine, when you get married on 7/7/07, your seventh anniversary feels like a special one. The golden birthday of anniversaries, if you will. We went to Hawaii for our fifth anniversary, and have always thought we’d end up going somewhere awesome for our seventh (Australia is the ultimate dream – maybe for our tenth – but for lucky seven we were thinking about somewhere in the Caribbean). But as this summer approached we realized the last thing we wanted to do was load everyone up on an airplane. We’re definitely still adjusting to life with two kids, so we decided to save some of our trip money for next year when we’ll hopefully feel more settled/brave/wanderlusty, and we bought a painting with the rest of it.

At $850 it was a HUGE splurge for us, but we figured getting a painting that we both loved (of the beach no less) as an anniversary gift to ourselves was sort of a nod to taking a vacation without loading up the pack & play and pacing the aisle of the plane waiting for someone to fall asleep. And we hope to have it forever. Heck, maybe it’ll hang on the walls of Clara’s house someday.

It’s a 30 x 30″ painting by Teil Duncan, whom we’ve been giant geeky fans of for a while. We resisted our initial instinct to get a smaller (less expensive) print, and decided that our first large original painting would be the best seventh anniversary present we could think of. And when it arrived, it was even more glorious in person than it was online. We had it up on the wall in about five minutes. Really, these photos can’t capture half the magic of an in-person stare-session.

It looks great next to our blue front door, and it’s one of those scenes that you can look at for hours.

Every time I walk by I notice something else. We even caught Clara admiring it (“I like that pink chair! We need a pink beach chair!”) and Teddy’s eyes catch it over my shoulder when I carry him up the stairs sometimes. Burger hasn’t shown any interest yet, but there’s still time…

The funny thing about hanging it in our foyer is that we realized we have two other paintings in there too.

Remember these smaller ones by our friend Lesli? They all have those soft blues and bright whites that make them feel related, but not too matchy. And they’re all of things we love: the beach, John’s Granny’s house, and Burgdorf Goodman himself.

You might remember that we originally hung our Samantha French print in the hall next to the door, so we carried that into the office and held it up over the desk. We actually tried our anniversary painting there first, but ended up liking it better in the hall, so that switch was pretty simple to make. It’s nice to have some art on that wall of the office too.

While hanging that over the desk, we realized we have a few more small paintings on the shelves in there (one of our last house, one of a pear that I found for $4 at an estate sale, one of two bees from Etsy). We always hoped to slowly amass some “real” art, so it’s nice to realize that over time you can inch up the ol’ collection, both with inexpensive finds and a splurge or two, and suddenly you have a hand and two fingers worth of it.

And of course we have all of Clara’s creations on the cork board over her desk. Priceless.

I think no matter how easy you know nail holes are to spackle (so easy! we’ve done it a thousand times!) there’s this instinct in a new house or a freshly painted room to hold off on hanging art for a while. I don’t know what that phenomenon is (Nail Hole Neurosis?) but we definitely aren’t immune. This is a very real issue people. Just kidding, but really, it took us TEN MONTHS to add some nail holes after painting our bedroom!

It’s weird that we hold back on the whole art-hanging thing when we know how much it can take a room from house to home (our bedroom feels 100% more us than it did with blank walls). I’m certainly inspired to get some stuff hung in our upstairs hallway and a few other walls of our bedroom now. What the heck are we waiting for?

And to all of you other 7/7 anniversary peeps, hope it was a happy one!

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