THERE’S NO TURNING BACK NOW
Definitely no turning back after what happened over the last week. I was nervous about the process, not thrilled with my selection and not sure of the outcome. But we are over the halfway mark of the One Room Challenge!
Before I continue…
Let me tell you that after last week I just wanted this week to be simple and to make progress. Not just with the blog and the One Room Challenge but with the whole new house and all that it entails. For the most part it’s a much better week than last week with the technical difficulties and fabric issues and stuff, but there’s been something still bugging me.
The roofers ARE STILL HERE. I don’t fully understand the process here in CA. I know that in NJ homes get the roof stripped off, things are patched and fixed and a new roof is fully done within just a few days. It’s been over a week and they are still puttering around. The roof still isn’t completely installed. The guys seem to arrive late (isn’t 9am kind of late?) and leave early (I don’t need to ask if 2pm is early, do I?) and I am starting to feel like I’m being punked by these roofers and they’ve hidden video cameras in the ceiling to watch me flip out.
The debris keeps coming through the recessed lighting cans and the skylights. It’s safe to say I can’t wait for this part to be over. Oh, and they are supposed to put on new gutters too. Hopefully they’ll be done by Thanksgiving.
Guess what else happened?
I felt my first California earthquake! The epicenter wasn’t nearby but up in Pleasant Hill, yet we could feel it on Monday night. Apparently there have been a few more in that area since Monday but I haven’t felt anything. Anyway, that was
BACK TO THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE
Remember that LAST WEEK I was talking about the rug selection? Well, originally I wanted the one on the right.
And that’s because I wanted to use this pattern in the pink color way on the walls:
I ended up choosing the other rug because 1. it was cheaper, and 2. it was going to arrive quicker. And it still worked with the pink walls. Don’t you think?
Unfortunately the price of the pink wallcovering changed before I could order it and I couldn’t get a live person on the phone to honor the price it was the day before. In my stubbornness I refused to pay more for the pink one. I switched it to the charcoal gray one which was about a $300 difference. Remember, I’m renting so I don’t want to make huge investments to things I have to actually remove before I move out.
I clicked the order button and there was no turning back. The whole color scheme was completely different than what I had in my head two weeks ago!
MAKING THE BEST OF IT
The charcoal gray is still pretty cool right? Okay and get this. It’s not wallpaper, and it’s not temporary wallpaper. It’s FABRIC. Yup, I decided to upholster my walls, basically. Well, not padded-and-stapled upholstered. You’ll see in a second.
I’ve had this idea in my head for around 40 years!
Ok, this is nuts but stick with me. When I was little, I moved into base housing in Germany. I moved onto the fourth floor. This base housing was from World War II. We are talking cinder block walls and every unit looked identical. Kind of like dorms. Or prison. But with a kitchen and living room. Plain walls throughout and basic 4″ mauve-y pinky brown square tiles in the bathroom. And everyone’s home looked the same inside.
I quickly made friends with this girl, Kelly Sue who lived on the second floor. She was so cool and fun. Her mom was super stylish and had a fancy cherry red car with a white leather roof and swivel seats. I think it was a Monte Carlo, but it might’ve been a Cadillac. I can’t remember, but it was FANCY. I just remember Kelly Sue’s mom Polly being bold and fearlessly fashionable. It was the 70s and she had a Dolly Parton type presence, if that makes any sense.
Kelly Sue invited me to her place and when I walked into the bathroom I remember stopping in my tracks. Her bathroom had floral wall coverings and a coordinating fabric window treatment! I was just a little kid, a military brat who grew up living in plain white apartments or housing so seeing something like this blew me away (and probably started me on my career path). I think Kelly said her mom was a decorator, but I can’t be sure 40 years later, but the walls… they stuck in my head since the day I saw them.
And then I learned it was fabric on the walls. I didn’t know the difference between wallpaper and fabric on the walls at 8ish years old. I just remember that Ms Polly starched fabric to the walls and it was so she could take it down when they moved. And then the did move, to Texas, and then not long after we moved to NH. And that starched fabric wall idea hunkered down in my memory bank and laid in wait. It crawled up into my current design mind while I was trying to come up with something creative for this rental house. And now you know.
BTW Kelly Sue grew up to be a super successful writer of some of the big time comics out there, from Spiderman to Captain Marvel to Aquaman, as well as a lot of other comics! If you’re into comics, you might just know who I’m talking about. She has given females superpowers and has inspired many girls and women around the world. Pretty FREAKING AWESOME. I told you she was super cool. Learn even more HERE.
The Walls Need Something!
I had been looking at temporary wallpaper options like these:
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I love the idea of temporary wallpaper, and it’s kinda all the rage these days. It goes up like contact paper, and then you just peel it off when it’s time to go. The only issue was the cost. I didn’t want to just do a “feature wall”, which is also a very popular thing right now. If you know me, I like to go all in. If I’m going to do something to the walls, I’m going to do it to ALL of the walls in the room.
And to be honest, if I didn’t do SOMETHING to the walls, this room’s makeover was going to be pretty boring and too easy. What’s the point of the ORC if you don’t challenge yourself? So, Polly’s bathroom walls bubbled up to the surface and I was like, I’M DOING IT.
A quick google search confirmed the technique for me and I was all in, no turning back on this idea now. It’s not an uncommon technique but I have not done it myself so I like to research a little bit. I found out Sta-Flo was hugely popular for dudes in the 90’s to starch their jeans! Just google it!
So, back the the beginning, I wanted the pink fabric and the more pinkish rug, for a softer, calming vibe for this guest bedroom. Anyway I got the other rug, and the charcoal fabric and here we are.
I got 33 yards of fabric. That’s why I needed it to be super affordable per yard. It adds up, man! BTW, I loved ALL of the other colors of this fabric. I was able to find most of them at retail for you to look at, as well as some other similar fabrics. Check them out HERE.
I got 8 jugs of Sta-Flo liquid starch. Apparently it was hard to find when that whole make your own slime thing was popular. Now there’s plenty. I actually have too much!
I got all the stuff I thought I would need. What I really needed was a second set of hands. An assistant would have been nice.
This is not helpful.
READY TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT?
Ok, I’m going to try to explain this. No turning back, let’s get to it!
Step 1: Cut It Out
You cut the fabric a little longer than the wall to allow you room to line up the pattern. So the bigger the print, the more you have to add to the length. This pattern has about a 12″ repeat and the walls are about 8′ so I cut 9′ lengths. I did it one piece at a time. I didn’t cut all the pieces at once. You will start to get the hang of the repeat and might be able to adjust your lengths and don’t need to waste so much.
Step 1a: I forgot to add that you should use a cotton type fabric. And test it for color fastness. You could prewash it if you want. Mine is a 54″ wide printed cotton and it’s light upholstery weight.
Step 2: Get Tacky
Tack up or tape up your fabric to the top of the wall, making sure your pattern is straight. Much easier to do with help but I was flying solo and it was very comical. This would be a good time to mention that I thought getting a wide fabric would mean it would be less work since it covers more at once. Well… It’s a lot harder to hold it up, line up, tack it up and then do the starch part when it’s so wide and I had fabric falling on my head several times!
Step 3: Start Swearing
Ok, now you have the fabric basically where you want it and now you have to get underneath it and roll the liquid starch on the wall. And yeah, that’s all it is, straight up liquid starch on a roller and a brush for the edges. Roll it on quick because it dries fast and you need it wet. If you have a second pair of hands to hold up the fabric, you will be swearing less. Anyway get some starch on the wall and then smooth the fabric onto the starch. It will start to stick and then you keep repeating. You might be lifting off parts you just did to get under then next part, but then you keep smoothing it out and it just starts to work.
Step 4: Top Coat
Once you get the starch under the fabric and the fabric starts sticking to the wall, you roll more starch on top of the fabric. Enough to soak through the fabric. Now, I bet some of you are thinking, why don’t I just dunk the fabric in a bucket of starch so it’s just wet on both sides? Go ahead and try that. It is very slimy and you will never get it tacked up and you will be back at Step 3, swearing your butt off.
Step 5: Botox it
When it’s wet, you can move it around a little bit. The starch does dry SO FAST so sometimes you just need to re-starch and do it again. The best part about this is that you can literally keep pulling it off and redoing the starch it until you get it right. Just roll more starch on and smooth it out with a smoothing tool or your hands. It doesn’t matter if the fabric had wrinkles when you started, the starch is like Botox when you are smoothing it out. I just used my hands, running them over the fabric and smooshing out any bubbles and wrinkles and my fingers along the edges. I even took the gloves off because the starch just cleans up with water and it was easier to wash my hands once in awhile than deal with gloves that were getting stiff.
Step 6: Step and Repeat
You need to make sure the edges of the fabric are cleaned up and trimmed if need be. Then figure out the pattern alignment and tack the next piece and repeat all the steps.
Step 7: Get Edgy
Once you get around the room, you need to let it all dry and then go back around with a sharp cutter and clean up the edges. You might need to starch down the edges again, but no big deal. You’re done!
Later on, to remove the fabric, you just simply wet it a little bit with water or a steamer and it JUST PEELS OFF! I actually tested it and pulled of a piece that was dry and had a loose edge. It just came right off. And here’s the best part: you can just wash the fabric and use it again! You can’t do that with wallpaper, even the temporary stuff. WHAT?!
It might be more labor intensive, but it costs a lot less and is totally reusable. I think it should go a lot faster with a helper that has hands. I did that first strip on Friday and left it to see how it would be, then I worked on it on Saturday and was done by Sunday, except for cleaning up the edges. My fabric cutter was dull so I ordered replacement blades and I will get to that this week. I do think it went up pretty quickly after the learning curve with the first couple of sections.
Apartment Therapy actually did a tutorial you might want check out if you don’t believe what I’m saying over here.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What do you think? Were you surprised that I used fabric instead of paper? Do you like the charcoal color? Am I crazy? Tell me in the comments below!
I need to clean up the edges of the walls. Next, I need to finish finding the right bedding. Also, I had bought that headboard with the pink fabric in mind and now I don’t love that headboard with the charcoal fabric. Need to figure that out. I need to go to San Jose and get the dresser and small sofa from my husband’s apartment (read Week One if you don’t know why he had an apartment). I need nightstands, lamps, window treatment and hardware (which I think is buried in a box in the garage and could be another 6 week challenge just to find it). I also WANT a ceiling light, and then random decor stuff. Finally I will need photography. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that since I am new here and need to find a new photographer but I also don’t have a lot of money to spend on this project. Hmm. Maybe I will have to wing this one!
WHAT IS THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE?
The One Room Challenge is a bi-annual event hosted by Calling it Home showcasing 20 featured participants and many guest participants as they renovate a single room, documenting all of it over the course of six weeks. The One Room Challenge kindly shares all of the blog entries and the finished spaces at the end of the 6 weeks. Many of the entries end up being featured in places like these:
And this season, look who is the official media partner:
Be sure to follow along all the amazing projects happening in the ORC across the world! Over 300 projects! Makes mine seem kinda dinky, but whatevs. Click the image below!