Introduction: Easy DIY Fabric Wallpaper (No Sew, No Glue)
I own a bookshop, and it's decorated in a Dark Maximalist steampunk style that I like to think of as "industrial Atlantis." I have a bad case of champagne taste on a beer budget (bookselling is not a famously well-paid profession) so I do a lot of DIY stuff when I have decor ideas that I want to embrace. This is how I installed fancy-like damask wallpaper in my sci-fi & fantasy nook - on a budget.
Because the wall area in question was actually pretty small, I decided I wanted dark velvet wallpaper. (The theory was, with such a small space, I could buy something more expensive because I wouldn't need very much.) I ended up not having to buy anything at all and I did this project entirely for free, using leftover fabric from a previous project (I ended up with satin brocade instead of velvet, but I love how it looks). However, it went so well that I think I may do it again in the future rather than installing wallpaper (which I don't enjoy, due to the mess). You can also do fabric wallpaper using liquid starch (the old fashioned way) but I was really happy with the outcome here, and I didn't use any glue or starch at all.
Fabric (I used a satin brocade leftover from a past project)
Thumbtacks (fancy ones if you like)
Iron + Ironing Board
Philips Head Screwdriver
Flat Head Screwdriver
Step 1: Test the Look
I used thumbtacks to secure a piece of the fabric to my wall to get an idea of how it would look, in case I didn't like it. I let it hang there for a day or so and then I made my decision. (For this part, I didn't worry too much about lining up the pattern, I just used a scrap piece to get a general feeling for how it looks.)
Step 2: Measure Twice, Cut Once
I had a 25 foot tape measure because the space I had to cover was really long. I reccommend that you use a tape measure that is long enough for your project (instead of using a short one and adding up the measurements). Pretty much everything I was doing was squared shapes so it wasn't super difficult to cut the fabric to the correct shape. I cut at least two inches more than I needed on all sides (you can always cut off the extra, but you can never add more when you come up short). IMPORTANT: Think about how you're going to line up the pattern so it doesn't look wonky later on. Just like with sewing, you might need extra fabric to match plaids or patterns.
Step 3: Finish Fabric Edges
Finish the fabric edges so they don't unravel. I used pinking shears, but you can also serge the edges, or use fraycheck, or whatever your preferred method is. Then, iron the edges that need to be folded over. For me, that was only the top of the fabric because my selvages on this brocade are beautiful. But most fabrics would need to have the side edges ironed.
Step 4: Installation Time!
Secure the top of the fabric first, and let it hang down in place. Once you have the entire top done (for me it was by the ceiling) then come back around and secure the rest in place, moving from top to bottom, double checking as you go to be sure it is smooth and the pattern is matched correctly. You might want a buddy for this part. IMPORTANT: You'll need to cut around any fixtures just as you would for wallpaper. In my case, I had to work with the exit sign (this is what the Philips head is for). That was definitely the most difficult part of this project. On the built-in bookcases, I got lucky: there was a tiny gap behind the crown molding that I was able to slide the fabric under (I used a flathead screwdriver to assist). On the rest of that shelf, I carefully folded the edges down so the wallpaper was flush with the corner. In general, take your time and be sure the fabric is completely flat on the wall. This is the detail that will make the difference in terms of whether it looks professional or not.
Step 5: Final Touches
I didn't really like how the clear thumbtacks looked so I spent some time trying out other ways to secure the fabric to the wall. Silver push pins looked stupid; so did white ones. I ended up ordering some black pushpins online to replace the clear thumbtacks with and take it that extra mile to looking professional. They were only $5.99 for a pack of 200 so I think it was worthwhile.
If you like what I did, check out my bookstore blog for more weird arts and crafts!