I’m a crafty kind of girl, and I love do-it-yourself projects that are easy and inexpensive, yet make a huge visual impact. Before my first child was born, I knew I wanted her room to be amazing, and with my background in design, I had a million different ideas floating around in my head. I knew it was going to be tough to choose just one, but I also knew that I didn’t want to invest a lot of money into a décor scheme that she would outgrow in a few short years. My plan was this – to leave her bedroom walls unchanged (they were a medium tan colour) and simply decorate with bold fabric-covered canvases and accessories.
I needed to narrow down my options, so I went fabric shopping for some visual inspiration and found a fantastic line of complementary patterns that were all in the same colour family. At the time, the pink and brown colour scheme was just starting to become popular and I simply loved it. To add some texture and movement into the mix, I chose a neutral off-white fabric that had a wonderful raised wave pattern, to complement the pinks and browns.
The final product…
The fabric I chose was $20/metre, and the whole wall cost less than $100! You can easily do it for cheaper if you use less expensive fabrics or remnants you already have. Here’s how to do it…
You will need:
- Paint canvases (various sizes)
- Staple gun
- Fabric scissors
- Graph paper (or a graphic design layout program, like Adobe Illustrator)
- Tape measure
- Long level (a laser level works best, if you have one)
- Source paint canvases from your local art supply store or online (try deserres.ca) and find out the sizes they carry. Make note of these sizes, as you’ll need them to create your wall plan.
- Measure your wall and determine how much of it you want to cover with canvases. Be sure to subtract 10” or more from each side; at least 12” from the ceiling; and approximately 48” (or more) from the floor. These measurements are guidelines, as every crib/bed and ceiling height is different. If your child’s crib is higher, then adjust accordingly. (The idea is to mount the canvases high enough that a young child can’t reach them and, thus, become a falling hazard.) I recommend marking out your desired area with painter’s tape before going to the next step. It will give you a good visual, helping you to determine if it’s too big, too small or just right for your space. (I designed my daughter’s wall to be a perfect rectangle, but if you choose to mount your canvases at varying heights, skip to step #4.)
- Once you have your final measurements use your graph paper, or computer software like Adobe Illustrator, to start planning out your wall (to scale). This part is much like a puzzle – you’ll need to play with the various sizes of canvases to figure out what will fit in your rectangle/square. Be sure to leave a standard amount of space between canvases for a clean, even look (I left 2” between mine). Draw out your plan, and don’t be afraid to adjust your wall borders as needed. For example, you may need to increase your 10” side borders to 12” to accommodate the canvas dimensions.
- Purchase your art canvases and your fabric. To figure fabric yardage, be sure to add a minimum of 3” extra on all sides to ensure good fabric coverage on standard depth (3/4”) canvases. For example: a 12”x18” canvas would require an 18”x24” piece of fabric.
- Lay out each canvas face down on their appropriate fabric and, if your material has a directional pattern, ensure that it is correct for all canvases before cutting (i.e. in the case of stripes, they should all be going in one direction, either top to bottom or side to side… unless you want them to be different!)
- Cut out the fabric and staple to the wooden canvas frame. Start by stapling in the middle of one side, then gently stretch the fabric taut and staple the opposite side. Continue around your canvas until all four sides have been stapled in the middle. Be careful not to stretch too tightly – especially fabrics with a repeat pattern, such as stripes or dots. Continue stapling the fabric to all sides, checking the front of the canvas after each staple, making sure you’re not stretching too much in any one direction and distorting your pattern. Leave a bit of space at the corners to finish them off like hospital bed corners. (Note which side/direction you’re finishing your corners and do them all the same for a clean, uniform look.)
- Once all of your canvases are complete, install picture hangers at the top of each one (I use this type). On the back of each canvas, start by marking a centre line, then mark ½” down from the top edge. Align the top of the picture hanger with the horizontal line (shown in red, below) and then centre it on the canvas (blue line) and hammer it in.
- The next step is to mount the completed canvases on the wall. Start at the bottom left corner of your taped-off area and work horizontally, making sure each canvas is level to the one next to it and leaving the allotted space between canvases. Once the bottom row is level, continue on to the next row.
If you’d like to personalize your new wall art, you can find lots of options online. I had some custom metal words (like “dream” in the picture above, as well as my kids’ names) created by BendIt Words (call or email them to request a quote). I also love Room-eez™ Name Decals from Oliver’s Labels – they go on easily, don’t peel or curl, and can be removed and reapplied without hurting your walls.
This project is so versatile – you can make it as simple or complex as you want to. If you’ve got a bare wall and want a cheap way to fill it, a fun, bright fabric is just the thing to add some life to it. So get creative and start thinking about the walls in your home that could use a little pick-me-up. It’s easier than you think!