Staying in a rented home and can’t paint or drill whenever you want? Or are you a commitment-phobe and want to shake things up once in while – home or otherwise? We introduce to you the world of fabric. With a twist!

Carlton e

Old sarees to cover the wardrobes. Home of Carlton Braganza

Embroidered fabric as curtains, kalamkari, ikat and kanjeevaram saree converts – these all are becoming a part of the decor of many Indian homes. And with all that this culturally extravagant subcontinent has to offer, we feel that the use of textiles as wall paper, panelling and light screens is the obvious next step!

Nalini e

Use of rug on a wall. Home of Nalini Malhotra

The best part of these intricate designs is that each wooden block, weave and dye that has been used to make them, has a unique characteristic, telling a story of grace and displaying mastery of skill and workmanship.

So, what do you need to get this plethora of colour and splendour in your home? Just three things and three steps to make this quick, short-term (if you want it to be) and lively textile addition to one of the most plain surfaces in the house. Let’s start!

Things required:

– Fabric (preferably cotton or cotton-like)
– Liquid starch
– Large paint brush

Fabric DIY example e

Fabric covered walls of a small shop in Dharamshala. Credits: Sarasija Subramanian

Step 1: Cut the fabric to size.
Keep in mind that the fabric gets very taut when it is pasted using starch, so you won’t need to leave margin, unless there is an edge you need to fold over (door / window). For a wall, you could even choose to do a small portion – a panel at the bottom, a vertical strip to break the monotony or to accent a window. To add some functionality, you could do a strip lengthwise to cover the areas that usually get the most marks, either by hands or by furniture pieces.

Step 2: Pour out the starch.
You should dilute it till the consistency is that of a thick gravy – enough to apply on the wall but not thin that it drips. Use the brush and apply an even coat on the wall (after cleaning it for dirt), starting from the top so that you can even out the drips along the way. Remember to put the starch on smaller portions of the surface, specially if it is quite large, as the starch may dry quickly.

Aradhna Lanba e

Beautiful painting on fabric adorning the wall behind the bed. Home of Aradhna Lanba

Step 3: Put up the fabric.
Remember to check the right side before you paste. A little help here will go a long way. As one person holds the stretched out fabric, the other can start to paste it on the wall from the top. Use your thumbs and palm to even out the folds and wrinkles. Since the cloth doesn’t tear and the starch stays sticky for a while, you can always tug out any creases and doubles without worry.

MOFA Studio e

Fabric and upholstery on the wall. Designed by MOFA Studio

That’s it. You’re all done! And the right amount of colour, texture and pattern – all wrapped into one – has been added to your home! And we haven’t even reached the best part yet. Starch can be easily washed off with water so you can spice up your walls every few months with a new fabric, a new pattern, a new location. Just use water to peel of the cloth and wipe off the old starch with a sponge and some soap. Voila! Ready for a new project.

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