Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Riddance, wood paneling!

UPDATE: See new pictures below!

I'm just going to say it, and not worry about who I may insult--

I hate wood paneling. It is the devil of any wall space, and I sure hope that all of the wood paneling left in the world is on it's way out.

Maybe I should stress that I am referring to the traditional wood paneling that most people think of in an (unfortunate) discussion concerning wood paneling. If you have the urge to create something like the masterpiece pictured below, by all means I hope you do.

 Anyway, I've found myself living in a great apartment that could qualify as a mansion in the world of city one-bedrooms. At least in respect to the price...

But the wood paneling was about to make me give up my newly acquired 450 additional square feet, and had really got me down. I was starting to feel like I was living in a 70's "adult film" cave or something... (the carpet probably doesn't help).

I decided I needed to do something about this.

I happened to stumble across a temporary wall-covering solution using fabric and liquid laundry starch--have you heard of this??

(See some more examples here or here)

I've seen this method all over online, and now I feel obligated to share this super easy fix to wood paneling (or any wall) in hopes that I will never have to see it again!

First, you'll need a few items:

1 box of cornstarch
enough fabric to cover your wall
box cutter/exacto knife

(see, it's easy already!)

The idea is to starch fabric to the wall. I know, I know, it sounds like you'll end up with sloppy, blotchy fabric falling off the wall in your living room, but that won't happen. I promise. You will be AMAZED out how professional and permanent this project looks.

Before you get started, you'll want to make a batch of liquid starch. You can purchase it from the store, but you will use a lot--and you can make the same thing for the price of a box of corn starch.
I purchased one bottle so I would have the spray bottle, and then refilled it with my own mixture. I also wanted to be able to compare the two--and the homemade starch actually worked better.
I doubled the following "recipe" for a 7' x 9' wall.

Stir 1/4 cup corn starch into 1/2 cup cold water. Then pour in 4 cups of boiling water and mix it up. 

Let this cool before using it.

You'll also want to find a fabric to cover your wall. Something without a whole lot of texture and weight will work best. 

Amy Butler Design

Amy Butler Design

Amy Butler Design

 Yes, it takes a lot of fabric. Yes, that could be very expensive. Or, you could do what I did, and go to Goodwill for a Queen or King size bed sheet. I bought a King (brand new!, Ralph Lauren) striped sheet for $3.99. I also bought a purplish/gray solid Queen sheet for $3.99.

Side note: I had some curtain fabric from Goodwill already. It was a bit heavy, and textured (with nobby vertical stripes). Here was my first thought:

"Oh!! I'll make really cool stripes on the wall with this curtain fabric since I don't want to wait to get the right fabric!"

(excuse the cell phone pictures)
...It could have worked with a lighter weight fabric, but after doing a few stripes I decided to go full coverage with a lighter fabric. The only part of this project that you could possibly mess up would be trimming the edges after everything has dried, so be careful (and take your time if you're going to do stripes that need a lot of trimming)! I messed them up, and the thicker fabric was pretty hard to cut through.

There would have been a bigger stripe in between each of the further-spaced stripes--I was doing every other piece of paneling.

So back to the how-to:

Put the starch that you made (and let cool) into a big bowl.
Grab some clean sponges.
Soak the wall in liquid starch (lay down paper/old sheets/painter's cloth to protect your carpet).

I ended up tacking up the top corners of the fabric, then lifting it up to soak the wall underneath. As soon as most of the fabric gets wet it will easily stay up on it's own, but I was flying solo and needed a hand. Oh! And make sure to leave about 2 inches of extra fabric around all of the edges so you can use your exacto knife to cut clean edges at the end.

Once the wall is soaked, press the fabric onto the wall. It will probably have pretty much done this on its own, but just to be sure.

Then, start loading on the liquid starch. You want the fabric to be soaked.--I've found the most efficient way to do this is to spray the starch on with a spray bottle, then smooth it around with your hand or a sponge. You'll want to work from top to bottom, and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles as you go. Take your time on this part, but also remember that you can always peel a piece back up and re-starch it with no problems. The best way to help you visualize how this all ends up working is to remind you of what your wet t-shirt looked like when it was soaked and suctioned to your belly after your brother pushed you in the swimming pool fully clothed. Your belly is the wall, and the fabric acts exactly the way that t-shirt did.

Did I tell you I peeled off the stripes and went with my solid queen sheet from Goodwill?

It's kind of the same color as my favorite nail polish, "Commander in Chic" by Sally Hansen. Just a smidge darker, with a bit more gray.

Here's a horrible and unclear picture of how it turned out. I swear I will post a better one in it's place soon!

NEW! and better pictures:

wooooohoooooo! I love it! and it was so easy and fun. Doesn't it look just like wall paper?

Once it dries, simply trim the edges. If an edge starts to peel up a bit, just spray a little bit of the liquid starch and re-smudge it down.

When you move, or if you decide that you want to change your wall with the seasons (I never have the dedication to change decorations with the seasons), just peel the fabric off, and wash the wall down with a little bit of warm water...then start all over!

voilĂ !


Micah and Catherine said...

Amazing. I might have to try this.

mercymade8 said...

Have you checked to see if any damage has occurred to the paneling? I hoping this is my solution to our walls!

mercymade8 said...

Have you checked to see if any damage has occurred to the paneling? I hoping this is my solution to our walls!