Kids & Pets

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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Blankets, Bears, and Baby Feet

You guys have asked some questions about newborn photos, Teddy’s birth announcement, Clara’s four year photo & annual video, and what I got for Mother’s Day, so this post is a smorgasbord of all that documentation. As I wrote this I thought “maybe John and I are more ‘document-happy’ than most people” – you know, to take so many photos and make a yearly video, etc. But then I realized that most people with a blog probably lean towards a love of capturing things, and a ton of our non-blogging friends and relatives have phones and computers full of videos and photos of their kids. So I think it’s just easier than ever thanks to cell phones, and maybe we’re not that unusual after all.

We did stash our phones and break out the good camera to snap some casual newborn photos when Teddy was just a week old though, so here’s our favorite one on the cover of his birth announcement. We just used a template from TinyPrints, added the picture, and bought a few dozen.

As is the case with most photoshoots, it gets a lot less glamorous when you zoom out. Yup, we snapped the photo above while John stood between a giant box and a plant in the office.

Teddy was just seven days old when we did this, because we wanted to capture his sweet squishy newborn stage. Our amazing brother-in-law Todd (who’s a professional photographer) also offered to take some family & baby photos for us, so it was nice to know that the pictures we took wouldn’t be the only ones. It took the pressure way down, and made it nice and fun. John and I both got in on the shooting action, and we even got some sweet pictures of Clara and Teddy together.

As for the tools we used for our casual little shoot (professionals we’re not, so these really came in handy), we used the diffuser I got John for Christmas, a soft surface that we created with a pile of blankets and a Boppy on our office desk, and a step stool to help us take some shots from above.

The difference of the diffuser was pretty dramatic. The shot on the left is one we took without it – and then we held up the diffuser to even out the light and took another picture. These baby-in-a-basket shots make us laugh because he straight-up looks like he’s in the womb. I think good pro photographers can pull off setups like these, but after snapping a few we moved on to simpler shots of him sleeping, John holding him, Clara looking at him, etc.

We took these photos with our Nikon D3200 and our nifty fifty lens (it’s an AF-S Nikkor 50mm lens that we’ve had for a few years now). It’s great for shooting detail shots and creating that blurred background, but we never use it for full room shots (we use the stock lens that came with our camera for those).

We also tried to include things with meaning to us in the photos…

… like this sweet blanket that my brother’s wife Ali knitted for us (it was the first one she ever made – and it came out awesome!).

Baby foot intermission. I still contend there is nothing cuter.

I love this photo that captures Teddy’s cute hair and John’s wedding ring with a simple light background. I still can’t believe how much hair he had at birth since Clara had hardly any for a while.

Here’s one with eyes, was a total coup for us since he was still pretty sleepy and squinty at seven days old.

We also wanted to get some shots of Clara with him, so we used our bed as a casual background.

This one melts my heart. This girl LOVES her brother.

We liked these shots so much that we used a series of them on the back of Teddy’s announcement.

These photos were taken the next day, just randomly when they were laying in our bed.

They’re a pretty hilarious pair, these two.

Which leads us to Clara’s latest photo project picture. A bunch of you started asking where her four year shot was after we shared her birthday party (thanks for the reminders! It had completely slipped our mind between party stuff and general newborn happenings).

 

It’s pretty crazy to see how much she has grown since we started the project. One of our favorite things to do now is to take Teddy’s weekly photo and then look back at Clara’s photo from that same week. She loves studying his photos next to hers, and it’s fun for us to pick out a few similarities and differences.

We also got some pretty great outtakes from Clara’s four year photo. The one on the right kills me. She saw it and said “I look like a flamingo!”

And here’s her annual video (you can see the other three here, here, and here). Makes me all mushy and weepy. Sometimes I just want to freeze time.

And now for my mother’s day gift. It made me full on ugly-cry. John secretly put together a little photobook full of Clara Conversations for me.

Every page had me doing that smiling-with-tears-running-down-my-face thing. It’s one of my favorite things ever. And such a huge surprise. I have no idea when he snuck the time in to make it.

John even thought to leave the last page blank so Clara could draw our family. Look at us, all holding hands. I also like how Daddy is smaller than Teddy. And the Easter stickers are a nice touch too.

Update: John made/bought the book through MyPublisher, which is also where we order our family yearbooks (although this book is smaller and thinner than those).

How are you guys documenting things these days? Is your phone full of photos? Have you make any videos with clips and pictures set to music (here’s a post about how we make ours). Is anyone else sending out birth announcements? Is it weird that I keep them? I have dozens of them, from every friend and relative who has ever sent them to us, and I keep them in a big stack next to the cookbooks in a kitchen cabinet.

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