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Ikea throws (any that are stretchy), framing wood from hardware store, staple gun, small nails

If you live in an apartment, and you don’t love white walls (or worse, as in our case, blech-tan), you can dramatically change them without painting (and getting in trouble with your landlord).

Step 1. Measure your wall. On graph paper, divide it into 4 quadrants (this assumes you are working in a standard sized bedroom, add quadrants as necessary for larger rooms).

Step 2. Determine the amount of wood you will need. Each quadrant will be framed, using 1/2″ (or so), by 1/4″ wood. So, there will be 16 pieces for a wall with outlets or oddities (more on that later). Basically, you will need 4 times the length of the wall in wood, and 4 times the height.

Step 3. Go shopping. At the hardware store, purchase wood, a staple gun, 1/4″ staples and small, finishing nails. At Ikea, pick out a throw that you like. Make sure it is stretchy in both directions. Purchase 4 (the ones I bought were $7.99 each).

Step 4. Create your frames. Starting with one corner of the wall, make a frame such that the outside edge ends 1/8″ short of the center of the wall, and the top edge 1/8″ short of the middle of the wall. The corners of the frame are not mitered (see photo). Using staple gun, staple at the joints of the frame to hold it together. The frame will be VERY flimsy: Don’t worry about it.

Step 5. Cover frame with throw. Lay the throw right side down on the floor. Lay the frame on top of the throw (again, the side that would be facing the room is down on top of the frame). Carefully staple the throw to the frame, starting with the center of top, bottom and each side, then working out from there. Staples should be about 1″ apart. Do not be overzealous in stretching, but also don’t be too careful, or your “wallpaper” will sag. At the corners, carefully fold like you are wrapping a present and get the fabric as flat as you can. You may need to cut excess away.

Step 6. Install the first frame. Place frame in corner for which it was measured and tack it up using the finishing nails. When the nails are nearly all the way in, carefully pull the fabric over the nail head, then drive the nail home. Use about 10 nails per frame. Make sure you tack all 4 corners.

Step 7. Complete remaining panels. Using the installed panel as your guide, measure and cut the wood for the remaining frames. Complete each panel before going on to the next, as you may have to fudge a bit (my building does not seem to be completely plumb). Do the panel with outlets or phone jacks last, as by then you will be an expert (see next step).

Step 8. As shown in the diagram, the panel over the outlet is a bit more elaborate. Make mini frames within the main frame to create a cut-out for the outlet. You don’t want anything floating. All of the wood runs should go all the way to and be secured to the outside frame. When attaching the throw, you will cut away where the outlet goes, leaving about 1″ on all sides, and fold fabric back and secure to the mini frames.

That’s it. Mine looks pretty good, though the point where all 4 panels converge is a tiny bit less than perfect. I hung a picture over this point – problem solved.

~ Carrie Maser, Palo Alto, CA