How to Upholster Walls with Fabric

This Master Bedroom was designed around a fabric my client found.  It was a large floral woven pattern floral fabric.  It would not have been my first choice but as always it was my job to build a beautiful room around it.  The fabric had great colors so I began looking for fabrics , papers and trim to compliment it.

On a visit with my clients we were looking at both fabric and wallpaper samples.  None of the wallpaper samples were exciting. <br>  

My client noticed a fabric and commented it was a shame the fabric couldn't be put on the walls.The fabric was a beautiful woven stripe.  I said that fabric can be installed like wallpaper and that we would use it for that purpose.  I also lived to regret my next comment.  Having been a professionally trained paperhanger many years back I had hung fabric on walls and said, "If we cannot find someone to hang it I will do it myself."

I quoted the job.  Quote accepted I placed orders and contcted two paperhangers.  They were both given fabric samples to test.  One said it should be paperbacked.  The other said he couldn't do it.   I tried a sample on the wall at the shop and thought I could hang it.   Long story short.  I couldn't./

So now I have walls and I have fabric.  I suggested to my client that I can attach it to the walls as if they are upholstered.

They agreed.

This was not the first I had upholsterd a wall.  I also did a music room with upholstery to soften the sounds.<br>

Before Picture of Room<br>
Step 1
Measure all walls and do a set of elevation drawings showing all windows, doors ect.

On the drawings show ceiling height
space from corner to window or door,width of the window and the space above and below the window. Show the total width of the wall.

It is good to draw the outline of the room as if looking down at it, showing the shape of the room.

Label every flat space or wall in the room and mark it with a letter or number.

Be sure you have an accurate elevation drawing for each and label it to correspond with the space it represents on the outline drawing.

Step 2
Using your ACCURATE drawings determine how much fabric you need.  Most fabrics are 54" wide.  Determine where you want the seams of the fabric to fall and mark them on your outline drawing.
I like to plan to not have a seam on a focal area of a wall.  For example above the bed I centered a 54" width over the headboard and worked out toward the ends of the walls.
If the fabric is plain or a stripe you can plan to put a seam at the edge of each window.  This allows you to save  fabric by sewing a short piece above the window and another short piece below the window.<br>

Outline Drawing of the Shape of the room with door window and wall measurements shown.
Also reference letters to elevation drawings for each wall<br>

Elevation of Bed Wall. Green showing where
strips are attached <br>
These two examples show the Room Outline drawing and the A Wall or bed wall elevation drawing.  I neglected to put measurements on it.  It should include as I said before :
Ceiling to floor
Top of window to ceiling
Bottom of window to floor
Space between windows
Space outside edge of window to corner on both sides.

The Green lines on the elevstion show where wood strips need to be attached to the walls.<br>

Step 3
Total the measurements of the room where wooden strips need to be attached. You can use furring strips or lath strips.  Both seemed to get a little expensive for me so I bought 2x10" wood and cut it down to strips 1/2" x 1 1/2" wide.  I used a miter box, on site to cut them to the lengths I needed.

strips attached with drywall screws
Step 4
Using the measurements from your drawings cut the fabric to the length you need plus 4".  This will give you 2" of trim top and bottom.

Using your elevation drawings and measurements cut the fabric for the first wall.

I started with the most important wall.  The one with two windows and where the bed will go. Because I didn't want a seam down the middle of the wall I started in the middle and cut one full length( floor to ceiling +4".  Then following my elevation plan cut a strip of fabric full length again. From that strip I cut a strip wide enough to reach from the left side of the full width to the edge of the window+ 1" (1/2" seam allowance for each side)

I then cut another strip the same width for the other side of the full panel. Each strip was sewn with a small stitch to each  side fo the 54"width.

Next cut a piece the width of the window plus 1" (1/2" seam allowance on each side) and 4" longer than the distance from the ceiling to the top of the window.

Always mark the top of each piece as you cut it.  make sure to keep the top edges of the fabric aligned as you sew.  You must use a very small stitch so seams not only hold but so that when you trim the fabric at seams, the seams don't unravel.

Repeat this process for the area below the window.  Attach the pieces on the left side of the piece and do the same on the right side of the piece.

Cut your last strip the width of the space from the left edge of the window to the corner plus about 4".   You need to allow extra to help in attaching the fabric in the corner.  Stitch that strip to the left edge of the top and bottom piece.  Besure to align the top edge of the "top" strip and sew from the top toward the middle.  Align the bottom edges of the bottom strip sand thelong strip and again sew toward the middle.

Repeat the process to go around the right hand window.

Fold this wall of fabric and mark the back clearly in several places with the letter  corresponding with the wall in your elevation drawing.

Stitch together or cut as necessary the fabric for each elevation and clearly mark the back in several places with the corresponding letter.<br>

Step 5.  If you are truly upholstering the walls use 1" polyester fiber furniture batting.  It comes in a roll about 70" wide.  The furniture batting is much more stable and dense than quilting batting and less likely to pull loose from the wall.  The last thing you want when the job is done is to have the batt pull loose from the wall under your fabric.  

While you can glue it to the wall if you decide to go back to painted or papered walls it will make a disaster of your wall surfaces.

I prefer to staple it.  Besure your staple is deep enough to not pull out easily.  Start at the top and staple the batting to but against the fabric staple strip.  Do not staple it to the strip this will cause an un sightlylumpy effect when the fabric is stapled.  Supporting the weight with your free hand, staple it about 6" appart accross the top.  Then coming down spot staple it in the midsections.  Use enough staples so that it is evenly attached to the wall.  When you are confident it is smooth and firmly attached trim the bottom to but against the bottom nailing strip.  The batting will be thicker than the staple strips which will give your walls a soft padded look when the fabric is stretched over the batting.<br>

Step 6
Make Miles of double welt.
You can make your double welt out of the same fabric as the walls or out of a contrasting fabric.

Cut the fabric on the bias in 3" wide strips to cover 1/4" furniture type cording.

Cover the first cord as you would normally, with 1/2" of selvage beyond the seam.

Lay the next cord to the right of the covered cord on top of the 1/2" selvedge. 

Holding both cords together roll them over encasing the second cord with the wider selvedge and exposing the stitch from encasing the first cord. 

Change the zipper foot to the regular straight stitch foot and carefully stitch on top of the first stitch to encase the second cord.  Remember as you stitch to keep the fabric snug around the second cord.  The double welt is done because a normal 1/4" cord would not be thick enough to cover the edges.  While using a larger cord might cover it would also protrude further from the wall and be more likely to get caught on something and pulled  loose.

When all the double welt is sewn you must trim  the selvedge leaving no more than 1/4"beyond the middle seam.  Be careful not to get so close to the seam as to cause it to come loose.  To save time I pinned the cord to my table, instead of cutting the selvedge I used my shears to "shave" it off in 3' sections.<BR>

Referring to your drawings and reference numbers find the fabric planned for the first wall.

Starting at the top of the corner staple the fabric to the wooden strip.  Allow about 2" of the fabric to lap around the corner.  

Be careful to keep your staples as tight to the corner as possible and to maintain the 2" selvedge consistently.  Staple the fabric every 3 or 4 inches top to bottom.<br>

Return to the top of the fabric and turn 1/2" selvedge under as you staple as close to the ceiling as possible.  Be sure the fabric is pulled taunt as you staple.

Staple until you reach the first seam.  Measure from that seam to the corner.  Now go to the bottom strip.  Measure the same distance and mark the wooden strip.  Pull the fabric taunt across the bottom and down from the top and tack the seam at the measured mark.

Now go back to the corner and staple the bottom of the fabric every 3 or 4" keeping the fabric taunt top to bottom as you go.  Staple as close to the top of the baseboard as possible without missing your wooden  strip.  Let the selvedge hang over the baseboard until all fabric is installed.

You may well find that although the fabric is attached the same distance from the corner top and bottom that the seam is not straight and belly's back in the middle.

When you get to the next vertical strip on the wall you will stretch the fabric to correct the seam so that it runs straight top to bottom.<br>

Above you can see the fabric has been stapled in the corner, across the ceiling top and the top of the door.  It is being stretched taunt and stapled around the the edge of the mantle.  As you approach sharp angles it is necessary to pull the fabric into corners and cut relief cuts on an angle to allow the fabric to be attached tight and smoothly.

Do not trim any selvages until all fabric in the room is attached and looks good.  It is possible to carefully pull out staples and make adjustments as you go.<br>


When you get to the first corner pull the fabric taunt and staple into the wood keeping the same amount of selvedge (around 4" all the way ceiling to floor.     

Cut the selvedge down to about 2"

To start the next wall align the next fabric pattern with the strip just attached.  

Starting at the top and working down surface staple the fabric about every 3" until reaching the bottom.  Leave the selvedge until later.

Follow the same procedure stretching and stapling the fabric to strips.

When all the fabric is stapled in place use a single edge razor blade to trim off excess selvedge.

In corners to cut the edge down to 1/4" be especially careful not to cut through and damage the good fabric.   

At baseboards and around windows, doors, mantels etc trim to the edge of the wood work.


With stapler, straight pins and "tacky" glue at hand start the double welt in a top corner.  Staple on the seam and 1/4" down from the ceiling.   This will hold the welt in place while you glue the rest.  Glue about 24" of the back of the double welt with tacky glue.  Be careful not to get the glue on the fabric surface.  Put the glued cord in place and pin at the end of the glued portion.  Glue another 24" and continue until at the bottom.

When you reach the bottom put a staple on the seam of the double welt to hold in place.  Bend welt around corner and staple again.   Continue gluing  procedure as before.  Welt each wall separately.  When you reach the starting point glue the welt and fit it into the 1/4" space left on the double welt when you started.  The starting point welt should but tightly against the welt you are gluing.   When you are satisfied with the joining use a new razor blade to cut the finish welt. and pin in place.


All covers should be removed before starting.  After fabric is stretched and stapled be very careful to find the switches and outlets.   Carefully use a fresh sharp blade to cut a small opening near the middle of the outlet or switch.  You can use needle nose pliers to pull the fabric out from the receptacle.    Trim the fabric to allow the surface to be exposed.  Cut smaller rather than large.  When you release the fabric from the pliers it will pull back some.  You may cover the outlet with the fabric or paint it the background color and screw it in place.

When gluing the double welt be sure to cover staples.  Any staples that are too far into the wall surface to cover should be re-stapled first closer to the edge and then removed.



I hope you have found this to be helpful.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Bill Gantt

How to Build a Pergola Style Upholstered Cornice

  My client had a number of oriental style accents and need new window treatments.  I suggested a pergola style cornice, showed her two sketches, she chose the one she liked best and I got started. <br>

She chose the bottom design which featured a stripe fabric in the center and on each end.  The end stripes would then line up with the stripe trim on the standing


A paper pattern was drawn.   Always remember to fold your pattern in half and trim again so both sides are the same.   Sing a felt tipped pen the pattern was traced on to 1/2" plyboard.<br>

Since the window was wider than the 8 foot length

plyboard comes in,  a piece had to be cut and spliced on one end.   It was secured with a 4" piece of plyboard glued and screwed.  The splice was used on the inside of the cornice so that it would not show.

A grid pattern was marked and cut out of the plyboard to lessen the weight but maintain stability.<br>

Side pieces were cut and aligned with the straight part of the cornice front, glued and screwed.  The board forming the top of the cornice was attached to the face and end boards forming the cornice "box." <br>

Two small end pieces were cut to align with the face board and were attached to the end boards of the cornice box.   A piece was attached to brace face board with the shaped end pieces.<br>

Here you see the final wooden frame of the cornice board.<br>

Black out lining is stapled over the geometric cut outs.  This is important to prevent the cut outs from showing through to the face of the cornice.<br>

Next the entire board is covered in heavy flannel inner lining.

Note that the flannel is stretched and stapled to the underneath part of the rounded portion on each end.<br>

Next fiber batting was spot tacked on the entire cornice board.

The Stripe pattern was cut apart and and stitched in place with the white fabric.

The cover was then stretched and stapled over

The cornice board.  *My earlier cornice blogs go into detail as to how to maneuver around corners and shapes.<br>

After the face fabric in stapled in place and trimmed, cut a piece of fabric a couple of inches wider than the depth of the cornice.

Lay it face down on the front of the cornice and staple the edge in place .

Then staple  cardboard stripping over the edge of the fabric just attached.  Be sure to align the top edge of the striping with the hard edge of the face of the cornice board.<br>

After the stripping is in place pull the fabric to the back and staple on the back.

Cut a 3" strip of fabric and repeat the process on the bottom edge of the front of the cornice board.

Line the inside with lining fabric.


Unfortunately the lighting in the house was so bad where it was installed I couldn't get a picture of the finished, installed window treatment.  It looked exactly like the original sketch.

Bill Gantt

How to Build a Chaise Frame to Finish

My client wanted a guest room that was masculine.  The room had an issue that kept me pondering what to do for weeks.   The only light source in the room was a corner window.  As a result no matter what I did to the bed this window demanded your attention when coming into the room.   After much consideration I decided to design a small chaise the width of the small window and approximately the length of the long window.<br>


A drawing was done and a list of materials was completed.<br>


A paper pattern was made for the shape of the back and one for the arm of the chaise.<br>


The hardwood lumber was laid side by side, the paper pattern secured on top and traced onto the lumber.  The lumber was cut into the pieces to make the back.

The cut out pieces were then laid in place on top of the lumber again.  Care was taken to place them so the seams did not overlap layer to layer.<br>

The second layer of the back had places cut out to receive the vertical supports of the back.<br>

On the right you can see the back section fully assembled.<br>

A pattern was also made for the arm.  Note the cuts made in the wood before cutting the round part.  They make it easier to cut the shape smoothly.<br>


The same shape is cut again for the second layer but space is saved for the square part of the frame to fit.<br>

Here you can see how the frame will fit snugly into the space saved for it in the arm piece.<br>


Not only is the frame stronger by constructing it this way, it provides a smother front surface<.br>

The other legs are attached to the main frame corner brace.  For added strength the leg itself is corner braced on two sides.<br>

The back section is attached along with a support in the center and one between the front and back arm.

Also notice the space left between the vertical support and the back arm.  This is where the fabric will have to be pulled to the back and fastened.  I later realized I should have left more space than what you see here.  Also on the far right of the back section two spaces were left to allow the webbing to pass through.<br>

Next I web the bottom in an abundance of caution with traditional webbing.  This is where I want the lowest point for the seat.  The black rubberized webbing is stretched and attached to the top of the frame.  It is used in place of springs.<br>

The rubberized webbing is always run from front to back.  Unlike traditional webbing it is only attached in one direction.<br>

Heavy flannel is attached over the webbing.

When designing a frame it is important not only to allow space where needed for webbing and fabric to pass through , it is also necessary to be sure to have frame where you need to attach fabric.  Notice that a piece has been added at the bottom of the top curve of the arm.  You can see her that the arm is also webbed.<br>

Foam is now cut to the size needed.

At this point it is important to review your original plan for the seat depth and length.

This foam must be deep enough that the space

left on the deck is the size planed for the seat.<br>

On the left the heavy flannel is being used to pull the arm foam into the desired shape. It is fastened only on each side and the top.  The bottom as you can see must be left unfastened to allow for the fabric to be pulled through<.br>  

Here you see the flannel being pulled through the space allowed in the frame.  In the upper right see the rounded part of the top of the arm coming into shape.   When the foam is pulled to the desired shape this flannel can be stapled to the frame because it will not block the fabric application.<br>

Here you can see the foam has been pulled into the basic shape of the finished chase.  There will still be opportunities for fine tuning the shape as the fabric is stretched onto the form.<br>

The next step it to cover the arm and back with 1" polyester furniture batting.  The batting gives the finished piece a soft luxurious feel.<br>

It is time to begin putting on the fabric.   Here you can see the back fabric bring worked into place .  Notice the relief cuts where the arm and back meet.  The cuts are made larger as the fabric is gradually worked into the the area and pulled through the space left for it on the back.

There is not space for all the fabric to be hooked in the back some that will not fit through the space will tucked in unattached.  It will remain in place as long as the fabric is pulled tight and attached firmly to the back and arm.<br>

The back fabric is finally in position.  The pattern is level with the deck.<br>

The back fabric is stapled to the top of the back frame.  Notice it is pulled over and stapled about 3"  below the crest of the frame.<br>

Needle nosed pliers are being used to work the fabric through the frame so it can be tightened and and attached.<br>

A ruler is used to measure the distance of a point in the pattern repeat to the deck.  This helps check if the pattern is in alignment as the fabric is being stretched and attached to the frame.<br>

More relief cuts are made to allow the fabric to go around the point where the deck and arm part of the frame are attached.<br>

Because the fabric cannot be attached to the frame as it goes over the top if the back and the arm, you must be careful to allow plenty of fabric to be turned under and for lots of overlapping of fabric.<br>

Now that the back and arm fabrics are attached it is time to make a pattern for the seat.

Lining is cut to the approximate shape plus the thickness planned for the seat cushion.   Relief cuts are made and the part of the pattern representing the cushion thickness is pinned to the back of the love seat, The thickness is is double checked with a ruler.<br>

This part is important because the foam must be cut to fit the shape of the back where the top edge of the seat will meet the back.<br>

Cut the lining to the marks and pin it to the top of the foam and mark the outline on the foam.

Using a foam cutter or an electric carving knife cut the seat foam to the shape needed. <br>

Because the foam did not come as wide as needed for the seat it was necessary to use foam adhesive and glue an additional piece to the side of the piece. <br>

The small picture shows that it was necessary to glue two thickness of foam together to get the proper seat thickness.  Also The fiber furniture batting is ready to be cut to shape and attached,<br>

Two large pieces of furniture batting are cut for the top and bottom of the seat.  Then strips are cut the height of the seat.  A "clipper" type staple gun is used to attach the pieces together.  Staple every 2 or 3 inches.  This also helps give a crisp edge.<br>

After all the batting is pulled tight and stapled the excess batting is cut to within 1" of the stapled edge.<br>

Next put the cushion in place of the deck.  Lay the fabric on top of the cushion.  Position it until it matches-back of cushion to back of chaise.  A light chalk mark can be made to show where the match is.  Put the fabric on the table.  Place the cushion


on top of the fabric with the edge of the pattern against the chalk line.  Cut the fabric 1/2" larger than the pattern all around.  This allows for the seam.  In the interest of saving fabric, often the fabric for the front of the cushion is allowed to mismatch enough to accommodate the 1/2" seam allowance top to side. Use your judgement to see if that is acceptable.  If it isn't you will need to go to the next repeat for the perfect match.  After all the pieces are cut sew together to make the cover with a zipper across the back.<br>

Now it is necessary to create a bed for the cushion to rest in.  You will need 8" strips of fabric. Since the bottom three inches will show you should lay the cushion on top of the fabric and find the pattern match.  Then measure out three inches and mark the fabric.  Remove the cushion and measure up the fabric 8" mark and cut the strip.<br>

  Repeat the process with the end of the cushion.  Cut them at least 1 horizontal repeat longer than the length of the seat cushion.  Cut another 1 horizontal repeat wider than the width of the cushion.<br>

Measure in from the edge 3" and mark the deck.  Now measure from the mark under the are and the back to the opposite edge of the frame.  Cut a piece of the upholstery fabric or lining a few inches longer and wider than that measurement.  Sew the strips as shown to the edge of the lining.  Use a curved needle and sew the deck piece through the lining/fabric seam at the 3" mark on the flannel deck. (see picture)  Once the front and end is secure it will look like the picture.  Pull the deck fabric under the back and arm.  Make the necessary cuts to go around the frame so it will pull tight.   Pull it tight and staple to the arm and back frame.<br>

Roll fiber furniture batting to be the width from the deck and fabric seam and about 3" thick.  You can spot staple it to the frame,  

Cut batting strips of batting to pad the surface of the remaining frame.   Spot staple it in place.<br>

Now pull the 8" strip over the rolled up batting and over the edge of the frame. Pull it snug and staple it evenly to the frame.  Your staple line should be 2" below the top of the frame.   This will keep the cushion from sliding out of place when the piece is done.<br>

If you plan to have the skirt cover the rest of the bottom of the chaise you will make a weld and staple it to cover your last staple line.  How to make and attach a skirt should be covered in my blog on "how to build and cover an ottoman.<br>

I appologyze for the shortage of pictures on these last steps.

Completed Chaise.

Chaise under the window it was designed for.  I hope you found this useful.

Bill Gantt

Re-Gluing and Recovering a Victorian Chair

                                          Gantts Decorating


This is the chair before the work began.  It had a loose arm and almost all the joints were loose.   There had also been some "finish nail repair".  (Never try to repair with finish nails. They don;t hold and damage the wood.


These pictures show how loose and deteriorated the joints

had become.  The more fabric I removed the more it seemed

the fabric and webbing was about all that was holding the

chair together.<br>

I started by pulling the fabric loose from the inside

back of the chair.  The gimp that had been glued

on the last time it was covered strengthened the edge

of the fabric and allowed most of it to come off along with the tacks.  This then exposed the old dusty cotton batting.<br>

 Under the cotton batting is a layer of  old dried out horse hair.  The horse hair is tacked to the burlap under it.<br>

With the cotton and horsehair removed, the burlap is removed revealing a wooden center support, webbing and cotton batting used to pad the back of the chair back.<br>

The webbing must be loosened and all the old tacks pulled out.  With all this removed all that is left is the fabric on the back side of the chair back.  It is removed and all the old tacks or staples must be removed from the frame.  Care must be taken not to damage the part of the frame that will show after it is rebuilt and covered.<br>

An old leg repair shown here is wrapped in duct tape.  Surprisingly enough when I removed the tape the repair was sound.  Apparently whoever repaired it used the duct tape to hold it in place until the glue dried and never took the tape off.<br>

Now it is time to attack the seat.   I used needle nosed pliers to pull the gimp and fabric off the frame.  This exposed more cotton batting and horsehair.  You really should wear a face mask while doing this.  This old furniture  is a Pandora's box of long forgotten allergens<br>

With the seat cover, horse hair and cotton batting removed another layer of  burlap appears.<br>

All the furniture tacks or staples must be removed to pull this layer off.

Removing this layer reveals burlap stretched over the top of the springs.>br>

With the springs exposed, be sure to pay close attention to how they are tied.  It is a good idea to take a few pictures for future reference.  If the frame is sound, often the springs are retied tighter and not removed.  At this point of the project it was obvious that the chair was being held together as much by the webbing and fabric as it was by joints,  So the springs had to be removed.  I loosened the old cord from the frame, but left it on  the springs to be a guide when it was time to put them back.<br>

The chair is turned  bottom up, tacks are removed.  This then exposes the webbing to which the springs are attached.  Since I do not have the necessary tool to attach the springs to webbing.  I took the old webbing off the frame and left the springs attached to it.<br>

Now with a rubber mallet, it is time to dissemble the frame.

Carefully piece by piece, joint by joint the frame is taken apart.  Every joint in this chair needed to be taken apart and old glue sanded off and removed from the holes and re glued.  If you have any joints that are sound do not take them apart.  Trying to loosen sound joints can cause breaks in the frame.  In this case as you can see there were absolutely no solid joints.<br>


 is like putting a puzzle together.  Once all the joints have been cleaned of old glue it is time to re glue and reassemble.

There may be specialty clamps I don't know about for curved pieces, but regular clamps are difficult to get placed to hold the joints in the proper position.

As you can see I resorted to using strong cord and pulling the parts tightly together with tourniquets.  Be sure the part you are gluing can be fit together with the other parts  before letting the glue set.<br>

 The back pieces were glued and dried overnight.

Now I am able to use regular clamps to attach the back assembly to the seat and front leg assembly.<br>

The old webbing with the springs still attached is stapled to the bottom of the frame.  Because it has sagged over the years and because I can't stretch it, I reinforce the seat using new webbing.  This webbing I can pull extremely tight and do. <br>

The old ties are attached to the frame as close to the way they were as I can get them.  Now the springs are re tied with new cord, leveled an tightened.<br>

Heavy flannel is pulled tight and attached over the springs.<br>

Next webbing is attached to the front and back of the back.  I elected to

put it horizontally to bridge the vertical wooden back support. <br>

Heavy flannel is laid in the depression of the front of the back where the foam sill go. It is marked with a marker.  The edges are turned under rather than cut off and it is used as a pattern to mark the two inch foam.<br>

The pattern is positioned on the foam.  The shape is ,marked on the foam.  Using an electric carving knife, cut the back foam to shape.<br>

The foam is placed in the recess on top of the webbing and the flannel pattern edges are unfolded and is stapled over the foam.<br>

Using 1" foam the same method is used to pad the back side of the chair .<br>

 To make a pattern for the seat, flannel is laid over the springs and thumb tacked into place, marked cut and used as a pattern to cut the 3" medium density foam.  Don't forget when you make any pattern to fold it double and trim so both sides are the same.  As you can see in the photo, the foam is marked and cut where it will have to fit around arms and legs.  After the seat foam is cut, staple the flannel pattern on the seat to cover the retied springs.<br>

Next using brute force, patience and persistence, work the foam into position on the seat above the springs.<br>

In order to get the seat to a comfortable height, I elected to use two pieces of 4" medium density foam.  A large piece of heavy flannel is used to shape and hold the foam seat in place.<br>

Once satisfied that the shape and height is as I want it, the excess flannel is cut off using a single edge razor blade.<br>

Since we could not find a stripe with the colors we wanted I elected to make my own. This gave me the unique opportunity to sculpt the stripe to conform to the shape of the chair  (See blog on making your own stripe).  <br>

The stripe for both sides of the back were made as shown in the photo above.   To make the seat stripe conform to the shape of the seat a piece of lining was pinned over the chair.  Then two pieces of string were run from back to front.  The strings are farther apart where the seat is wider.  Lines are drawn on  the lining and this shape is the shape all of the different color pieces of fabric are cut.<br>

Here you see the fabrics aligned and stapled to the frame.

Once satisfied with the shape and stripe placement, the excess covering is removed with a single edged razor blade.<br>

The last step is to make a double welt and staple and glue it to finish the edges.<br>

I also made and covered a round ottoman to go with the chair.  Instructions "

How to make a round ottoman"

will be shown in the next blog.

My client was delighted with this interesting treatment of her chair.

I hope you found this useful .   Please let me know what you think or share any questions you may have.

 Bill Gantt

Decorating a Home Library in Black and Gold

My clients had a small room across the foyer from their dining room we had just finished.  While I was flattered that by this time I had enough of their confidence, they said just decorate it and make it look good.  I suggested they let me think about the room and get back to them with ideas.<br>


To my way of thinking every room should have a purpose.  I came back to them with four suggestions.  A music room, a library, a dressy intimate dining area, or a room to serve all three purposes.  We settled on the fourth.  Essentially it is a library that can serve the other purposes.<br>

On the right is the rough sketch I provided for what I hoped the back wall of out library would look like.

The clients had seen a black and gold neoclassic room set in my studio. The husband had particularly liked it, so we decided to do that theme in the library.

The first thing that came to mind for seating in this small room was a pair of swan arm settees.  When I contacted the company I had gotten them from before I learned that they had discontinued them.  I then remembered I had used them for a bachelor client's living room.  He had since married and had told me his wife didn't like them.  He still had them in the navy and red stripe we had ordered them in.  I bought them back redid the gold leaf trim striped them and recovered them in the black and gold stripe.<br>

We selected Fabrics and wallpaper for the room.

I then sketched three original window treatment designs.  Two had round cornices the shape of the window tops and one had a square top with the shape of the window cut out of the bottom.<br>

The square top one was chosen by my clients.

We decided to upholster the cornice in black velvet with inserts of a black and gold trellis like pattern that the wife was especially fond of.  Black silk was selected for the swag and jabots

and tie back panels.     Black gold tassel fringe and rope trim was used as well.<br>

While I worked constructing cornices, drapes and recovering settees, my client worked with my sketch and a cabinet maker to get the back wall finished.>br>

A beautiful neoclassic pair of sconce lights were ordered from Decorative Crafts.  My client and I went to a bookstore on Third Street, Midtown Harrisburg and found good buys on several old books.

An internet search produced necessary neoclassic art prints.<br>

The large and heavy porcelain bowl with bronze ormolu makes a bold statement under the framed print in the center of the wall.   The shelves were arranged with books and various mementos and accessories new and old.  It is a room I and my clients are proud of.<br>

Tie backs echo the insert in the cornice boards


I hope you enjoyed sharing this experience with me.<br>

Bill Gantt

Making an elaborate wood and fabric cornice board

1/2" scale drawing for Window Treatment

As with all my projects a 1/2" scale drawing was done of the proposed window treatment.


Inspiration was drawn from an interesting antique bed that was to be used in the room.  The panels in the headboard have fabric inserts.  I suggested we repeat the fabric insert idea in the upholstered cornice and echo the dark wood finish of the furniture.  The idea was well received and the project begun.

The main part of the cornice is constructed out of plyboard.

I have shown basic construction on other cornice blogs so I will not here.  The only difference between this basic construction and others is that the top is cut to extend beyond the front and ends about 2 1/2" to accept the small crown molding to be added.

A circle pattern was made on paper.  The paper was folded double, evened out , placed on the  front, traced with a marker and cut out with a sabre saw.

Small crown molding was added to the top, a sash bead molding and 1" square wooden strip to the bottom.  The square strip covered the plyboard edge on the bottom.

Small crown added to top and stained

1" bottom finish strip ans sash bead molding

 Nail holes were filled.  All wood that would show was stained and given a satin finish.

A layer of polyester furniture batting is spot stapled in place.

Relief cut made at corner

The velvet is pre cut to a few inches longer and wider than the surface to be covered.

I mark the center front top and bottom and staple the fabric tight from middle to end both directions.  When going around the corners with moldings it is necessary to cut "relief" cuts.

They are cut from the edge of the fabric up to the corner you are rounding.  They keep the molding from preventing the fabric from fitting snugly.

Turn the cornice face down.  Cut the outline of the  circled part out.  Keep your cut about 3" from the


Nex cut relief cuts about every 2 or 3 "apart.

Start in the top part of the rounded shape, pull each "tab" tight and staple.  As you do this watch how the front is looking.  You want the front to look smooth and even.

On the center strip cut off excess fabric.

The edge will either need a welt cord to finish it or a trim as shown here.  Note:  The ends of cording must be taped before cutting to prevent unraveling.  I also secured the end with a staple.

The white edge "lip" is stapled so that it is concealed in the thickness of the plyboard when the next step is completed.

Cut 2' bias strips of fabric.  Put the face of the bias fabric against the "lip" of the cord and staple it in place.

Now come back with 3/4" cardboard furniture stripping.  Staple the stripping so that it aligns  with the outside edge of the board.  The purpose of the striping is to give you a smooth edge.

Once the stripping is on come back, pull the bias fabric snug around to the back and staple.  You will need to cut relief cuts in it as well.

Now it is time to make double welt cord.  This will be used to cover staples and finish the edges.

making a double welt

Second cord laid next to covered one

First cover one cord. Using the zipper foot stitch close to the cord.  Be sure to keep the fabric tight on the cord. I like to keep the edge the width of the foot.

Second cord is being stitched over stitch of first cord

Next lay the second cord next to the covered one.

Keeping the fabric flat, roll the covered cord to the

right and over top of the uncovered cord.

Using the straight stitch foot stitch on top of the stitch from covering the first cord.

It will look like the picture to the right.

Carefully trim off excess fabric.

Fabric is stripped back before ends of cord are removed

White fabric glue is put on the back of welt.

Before starting to attach the double welt I peel back the fabric and pull about an inch of cord and cut it off.  I then fold over the end and staple on the seam for a clean start.

With the end anchored with a staple white fabric glue is used to help attach the double welt.

It is good to staple at corners and every 12" or so to help hold the weld while and after the glue dries.  The double welt covers the staples .  I could have used gimp or trim.  On this design I wanted the emphasis on the open part so that was the obvious place to use the multi color trim.

If you look closely you can see where I put a cautionary staple.

When the project is complete it will hardly be noticeable.

Now that the double welt is in place top and bottom, it is time to work on the fabric insert.

A piece of luan  (1/4") ply board is cut to fit the inside of the cornice front.  It is the inside dimensions except that it is cut 1/2" shorter top to bottom. 

The outline of the circles are traced on the board.  Then another line is drawn parallel to the first 2" farther out.  This margin will assure that no edges show when the panel is put in place.

Check the length from center to the line. cut a piece of fabric the longest length and 3 times the fullness of the bottom width.

Measure the circumference of the half circle.  If for example it is 30" divide by a number you think will give you an answer of somewhere between 2 and 3.  That will be the number of folds you will have.  Thumbtack the center of the fabric to the center of the circle top and bottom.  Start at the center top and tack the fabric at the pre planned points.  At the bottom center you will pull the fabric to create the center pleat.  You will keep adjusting the amount of fabric in the fold until it stands up as shown.  Do the same til the end.  You will have to adjust the folds periodically until it looks good.  Then put some long staples to be sure it is attached.  Repeat the process on the other half.  When the bottom is done, use 1/4" staples and attach the fabric where the thumb tacks are.

There is no professional way to say this, but when all the fabric is stapled and secure, knall of the wad at the bottom with your scissors.

When both fans are finished I attached a strip of fabric that covered the bottom inch of the fans and the laun wrapped it around and attached to the back of the laun.  This way the bottom edge is covered and neat.

The panels are fit inside the cornice, the inside is lined in fabric lining and it is


How To Mitre Stripes

Original stripe of Three colors of silk and velvet mitred

I love to work with stripes!   Mixed with other patterns and solids , they are a great way to create interest and detail into a room design.   I use them to make interesting trims or accents on drapes  pillows and table cloths.

Pattern after first fold

How to mitre a stripe

Cut a piece of lining a few inches larger than you want the finished product.

Fold the fabric diagonally-corner to corner.  Press it with an iron.


Fold the piece diagonally again-opposite corners to corner-Press.

Pattern after second fold and lined up for cut

You will have a triangle shape about 1/4 the size of the original piece.  This is your pattern.

Place your triangle pattern on the striped fabric.  Make sure the

bottom of your pattern is aligned with the bottom stripe.   Also

It is a good idea to position the pattern so that the top point of

the triangle is over a large stripe.  This will make it easier to get

a neat square when you sew the 4 pieces together.

Cut your first triangle shape with the folded white lining pattern.

Two pieces sewn together

Then use the first striped triangle shape you cut as the pattern

for the next 3.   This helps assure that all four pieces will be

exactly alike.

Seam together two triangles, then seam together the other two.

Press the seams flat.

These pieces need to be turned face to face before being sewn

Place one set of sewn together triangles face up.  Put the other

set on top with the face down.   Be careful to perfectly align

the center seams.   Pin together.

Starting at the middle seam sew toward the outside point .

Then starting at the middle seam again sew to the other outside point.

Stripe trim being cut

Often I make a trim by cutting a stripe from a fabric.

It is much easier to mitre the entire pillow than to just try to sew the trim on and mitre the corners.

Many times the grain of even a solid fabric can give an interesting subtle effect when mitred.

Velvet triangles cut for two pillow faces

On these pillows the fabric is velvet which has a nap.  If done properly the differing directions of the nap when mitred will give a nice subdues effect.

To save on waste I have cut the triangles two directions.  With the velvet I must use all the triangles with the point up as cut for one pillow and the other, point down triangles for the second pillow.

Trim being applied to solid velvet

Measure an sew the trim stripe on each triangle at the same place.

Solid velvet and velvet stripe - red for covered  button

Finished pillow

As my pictures show you can even mitre a plaid.  I have mitred pillows using floral prints.   You can

even use the same technique on round pillows.   Just cut the lining a few inches larger than you want

the finished circle.  Fold the circle in half-press, fold it in half again-press.   Repeat the process

until you have the size triangles you want.  A round looks best with 6 or 8.

Mitred trim frames dog prints

Mitred dining room chair seat

"Explosion" pillow and small mitred pillow

Another type of mitre I have done is when a stripe is used to trim the outside edge of a pillow or table cloth.  If the stripe is used parallel to the edge of the item the methods described earlier work.

If however, the stripe is to be applied perpendicular to the edge of the fabric another issue arises

Fabric on the right is being aligned to be mitred


With a smaller multicolor stripe like shown here you will be able to mitre 3 corners at the same point in pattern and one mitre that will be at a different point.  With a stripe like this it is not so noticeable as with a bold 2 or 3color stripe.

For a project like this cut the large center piece of fabric and add a welt or trim on the edge.

Cut your stripes to the desired width.  To save fabric I usually join them all together end to end being extremely particular about the match so the seam is almost invisible

For this method, cut the strip of trim fabric the length of the center piece and add double the width of the trim fabric plus a few inches.  For example if the stripe trim fabric is 5" wide, add about 12" to your first cut.  With the trim fabric on the bottom facing up and the center fabric on top facing down, sew on top of the seam of the center piece trim seam.

Because this stripe is not balanced-one side is different than the other(see the cream colored grosgrain stripe next to the blue stripe) the next strip must be turned upside down to get a mitre.

Fabric trim is mitred and pressed 

Although I don't show it on the picture I recommend once you determine the edge that will be sewn to the center piece, you press over 1/2" along the top.  That is where you will be sewing.  Now put it next to the last corner and turn under one side to a 45 degree angle. If the edge of the trim stripe is perpendicular to the stripe showing on the upturned wrong side, it is 45 degrees.  Do the same with the piece you are adding. When they are perfectly aligned press a crease into both pieces.

Creased angles being sewn together

Now carefully fold the entire pillow face on the diagonal.  Noting the pattern, pin the two pieces of trim fabric face to face.  Be certain  that the angled creases you pressed in are one on top of the other.

Starting from the

outside edge

 sew the creases together with a medium stitch.  Be sure to lock the stitch on the outside edge.  nSew toward the center piece of the pillow or cloth.  When you reach the center piece trim keep as close to the corner as you can. Lock your stitch.

It is most likely that you may have to pick one or two out and redo them.  All the years I have been doing this I usually have one or so that I have to do twice until I'm satisfied.

underside of a successful mitre.

When the first corner is done to your satisfaction sew that strip up to the next corner.

Turn the fabric upside down(for this kind of stripe).  And find the point in pattern that will match the stripe at the top corner.  Turn the sewn piece so it is at a 45 degree angle(check to see if the face stripe is perpendicular to the stripe showing on the wrong side).  Pin it to your table.  Now do the same to the strip you are going to attach.  When the match is good press to mark and sew.

Last corner on the right. the part of the stripe to be eliminated in the middle

When you get to the last corner you no longer have the ability to shift the trim strip for a match.  With a mulit color smaller stripe, you find the pattern match on the corner.  Pulling as much fabric into that section as you need to match the first strip.  Press it into place and pin.  Now look at the excess fabric in the last trim strip and find a place where the pattern can be cut and joined will not be noticeable. For example on this one I paid attention to the location of the green and blue stripes.  The piece sticking up in the middle is where the fabric is coming out.

Once you find the place lay the fabric one direction and press in a crease then lay it the other direction and press in a crease.Be sure the fabric is always touching when your do the pressing.  Turn the fabric strip face to face.  With the center crease in the middle, line up and pin the other two creases together.  Lock your stitches and sew the two together.  Do not cut the excess off until you are certain everything lines up. Sew the upper edge of the last strip to the center piece and sew your last mitre in the corner.  All four corners are mitred and look great.

Bold stripe trim pieces laid out and checked with a framing square

If the finished size necessary for the piece is flexible, another approach that will get

all 4 corners mitred the same

, is to mitre the outside trim first and then attach the center piece when that is done.  With a bold or two color stripe this can often be the only way.  Unlike the stripe I showed you in the earlier example, stripes like these make eliminating part of the stripe on the last piece to get the mitre impossible.  Also with such a bold pattern you are much more likely to be annoyed with one corner having a different part of the pattern in the  mitre.

Trim strips adjusted to make a rectangular pillow

Because you must do a bold stripe this way you are only able to adjust the size of the pillow by the width of the stripe or by the repeat.

This stripe has a 9" repeat, so you can have a 27" by 27" square pillow or a 27"by 18" rectangle pillow.

  You are only limited by your creativity.

Good luck and please tell your friends about my blog.

Bill Gantt

How to make fancy reversible pillow shams

Other side of sham

No well dressed traditional bedroom should be without beautiful pillow shams.

I always make mine reversible and as fancy as my client will allow.  They really are the most important decorative item on the bed.


This embroidered linen floral is what the room scheme is built around, but the shams are the only place I used it.  I know that is all the exposure it will need in the room.

Because my plans called for silk to be pleated around the outer 4" of the sham it was necessary to have the lining to pin and sew it to.

lining cut the finish size of the sham

8" long corner pieces cut.

A 4" margin is measured and marked on  the lining.  When the lines intersect it becomes obvious that the corner fabric will have to be longer than  the rest.  Pleating requires 3 times the length the finished piece is to be.  Accordingly several 6" pieces of silk were cut equivalent to three times  the length of the sides and ends of the pillow.  All lengths were sewn together.

4 pieces of silk were cut 8"  wide and about 12" long. One for each corner.

Starting in the corner with the 8" piece the silk is pinned on both sides and the pleating begins.  To fan the fabric out around the corner it is necessary to use hardly any fabric in the outside pleat and very much more on the inside pleats. I planned for my pleats to be about 3/4" wide.  Once the corner piece is pinned you can simply slip about 4" of the 5" wide silk under the corner piece, pin and continue to pleat.  Always fold the fabric in the same direction as you pleat.  I don't often have the patience to measure things like this but go by sight.  If you are more comfortable measuring do so.  

first side pleated , tieing into the corner

To measure for a 3/4" pleat, pinch your first pleat so that it's fold has 3/4" inches of fabric on both sides.  Pin it flat to the table.  Place your ruler's 1 1/2" mark on the outline of the fold under the pleated fabric.   Fold your fabric to the 3/4" mark, hold in place pull out the ruler and pin top and bottom.  Repeat the process until reaching the next corner.   Cut the fabric about 4" longer than the last pleat.   Fold the first pleat of your corner fabric and pin it over the 4" of 5" pleating fabric.

Also pin the fabric even with the guide line drawn on the lining.  Let the excess go beyond

the lining. Repin all the pleats to the lining.  Sew the top edge 1/4" in from the edge of the silk.  Flip the lining and silk over and sew the outer edge of the lining to the pleated silk.  Sew it also 1/4" in from the edge.

Measure and cut the main-center piece of fabric.

It should lay about 5/8" over the pleat top on all sides.  Make a 1/4" welt cord or use a lip cord trim.  

Sew the welt or trim piece to the edge of the fabric with a 1/2" seam.

Position the trimmed center piece of fabric on top of the pleated fabric.  Pin in  place and with your zipper foot stitch it as close as possible to the edge trim.  Be careful that the lip of the cord stays folded under.

If you want more now it's time to start the other side.

Other side of the reversible sham.

Initially my plan was for the other side of the pillow sham to be covered in the main floral fabric only.  But I had a little of the drape and dust skirt fabric left and couldn't stand the thought of one side being so fancy and the other side plain.

This time there is no lining needed because there is no pleating.  I cut the center the same size as used on  the other side, covered a 1/4" cord in velvet left from the bed cover and sewed it to the main fabric.  The stripe was cut with a total of 1" seam allowances.   The amount of stripe left only allowed me to cut the pieces with the stripes running toward the center of the pillow.  There is a reason you don't see stripes done this way often.  The reason is that for it to look right the corners must be mitred.

All strips were sewn together end to end.  Care was taken to be careful to get a perfect pattern match for an almost invisible seam.

To do this you do one side at a time.  Sew the first strip allowing about an inch more than the width of the strip on each end.  Place it on the sewing machine with the center piece on top and the stripe strip on the bottom, so you can stitch over top of the trim seam on the center piece.

Here the second strip is being aligned to the first one sewn

If you look closely at this particular stripe, each stripe has a grosgrain type on one side only.

Because of the grosgrain stripe it is necessary to turn the next strip of fabric upside down to get the mitre.  In the picture you can see that the grosgrain stripe next to the blue stripe is on the left of the blue and on the right of it on  the other strip. 

Turning the strip would not be necessary if each stripe was balanced(the same on both sides).

While I am not showing it in this picture, aligning the corner mitre would be easier if the

top of the strip were turned down 1/2" (your seam allowance).   The easiest way to check the angle of the corner fold is to be sure the edge of the strip is perpendicular to the stripe seen on the underside of the fabric.

Stitch the two pieces together on crease made by ironing.  

Corners pressed for seam mark

ready to be folded and pinned for sewing

Once you are sure the corners are properly matched, press a crease on the fabric.  Carefully pin the crease of each fabric face to face being sure the creases and pattern line up.  Sew with a medium stitch from the outside corner toward the center.  As you get to the center piece trim, sew as close a possible to the corner of the trim and LOCK your stitch by sewing in reverse a few stitches.  Most likely you will have to redo corners a few times until they are acceptable.   All the years I've been doing this I usually have to rework some until I am satisfied.  Don't get frustrated.  Pick out the stitch and consider the first time as creating reference points that will help you get it right the second time.

Under side of mitre after sewn

All this works well until you get to the 4th corner.   How do you make it miter correctly?  With some bold or simple 2 color stripes you may actually have to cut the strips first, lay them out in  a rectangle or square depending on the pillow you want to finish with.

Center is checked for square before corner is pressed, pinned and sewn

As you can see once you have the strips laid out you can adjust for size by adjusting all four corners.  This of course means if all corners are going to be the same the size and repeat of the stripe will dictate the sizes possible.

Repeat of 9" allows for a 27"

 square or a 18" x 27" rectangle

As you can see this stripe has a 9" repeat so the pattern allows for a 27" x 27" square pillow.  If I want a rectangle it would have to be 27" by 18".

That is the big disadvantage of bordering a pillow with a large stripe running perpendicular to the edge of the center piece of the pillow.

Final stripe pieces is readied to finish pillow.

With a small multi color stripe not having the 4th corner match the other 3 is not as important as with a large bold stripe.  It is important, however that the corner be mitred.  With this kind of stripe it is possible to remove some of the stripe in the middle of the piece.  As you can see in the picture the corner is first matched for the final mitre.  Then it is determined what part of the stripe can be removed to shorten the piece to achieve the final mitre.  The piece standing up was pressed each direction to create a marking crease.  A tight stitch was used to sew crease to crease.  It was then cut and seam pressed open.  The final mitre was done.

Brush fringe is attached to one side of the pillow.

Brush fringe was attached to one side of the pillow.

The final step is to sew both sides together.

Both pieces were pinned face to face.  The pleated silk edge is not even, but it was stitched 1/4" from the edge of the lining.  Since it was easy to watch edge with the brush fringe sewn on, that part is put down and the side with the silk is watched.   Start on a long side that you determine will be the bottom.  Start about 6" from the corner and sew toward the shorter side.   Continue around the edge until you reach the long side you started on.  Only sew in 6" again. Lock the stitch well.   The space not sewn is where you will sew velcro for an invisible closure which allows the sham to be reversible.   Always sew the hook side(more plastic side) on the edge the brush fringe is sewn to.  Sew the loop side on the opposite side.   The fringe trim is less apt to get caught on the hook velcro if it is sewn this way.


I hope this was helpful and understandable.

Bill Gantt

How to make a "fitted' bed spread

Measurements and fabric estimate for fitted spread

When the bedroom is completed I will add a picture of the dressed bed here.  

First you must get accurate measurements of :

     The Top of the Mattress- width and length

         If the top is rounded like on a pillow top mattress, you may want to mark where you measure with a straight pin on each side and top and bottom.

      Next measure the length of the sides and bottom.   If you marked with a straight pin, measure from the pin to where you want the spread to end.  If there is to be no dust skirt, to the floor.  If there is to be a dust skirt plan at least 4" below the top of the box spring.  As a double check I also like to note the measurement from top to where the spread will end and the same way across.  The two measurements for each direction should add up to this one.  If you look at my notes you will see that I forgot to get a measurement for the width of the top of the mattress, but did get a total measurement.  By deducting the length of the two side pieces I was able to determine what width to make the top without returning to the clients house.

Make a clear drawing and put your measurements on it.  

This spread is velvet.  It is important when working with velvet to be sure the knap is going the direction you plan.  On a spread I always face the knap so that when you rub your hand down the bed top toward the bottom the knap is laid down.  Because I did not want seams on the side pieces and to match the knap  I cut them lengthwise off the fabric. After looking carefully at the velvet I determined to cut the bottom the same way to avoid seams there as well.


Using a framing square I first made certain that the end coming off the bolt was square.  Next I measured up the roll to the finish length I wanted.

I added 1/2 seam allowance for the bottom and about 4" to the top.  Often times after the piece is made the top needs to be re-squared and you will need seam allowance for the top as well.

Since the top measurement is wider than the fabric width, it was necessary to cut another length of the fabric.  I prefer to be extra cautious when cutting the pieces to be added to the center piece.  To get an idea how wide they need to be deduct the width of the fabric from the planed finish width of the top piece.  You will need to add 1 1/2" seam allowance to both strips.  I usually get the measurement and add 3" to it.  Also it is good to cut the piece a few inches longer than the first piece to allow for shifting when you sew.   Pin the pieces face to face and sew together with a small stitch( this fabric has a 100,000 double rub rating and I expect this spread to last a good 25 or more years) .  I don't want the stitches to start to loosen before that time.  With velvet make sure the knap is in the right direction as well.  Once sewn together I fold it double, pin it seam on top of seam, divide the finish width in half add 1/2" seam allowance measure out from the center fold and mark the edge.  I then mark and cut off the excess.

Cut and stitch together lining in the same fashion to the same exact dimensions.  Lay the lining aside

The excess on each side has been marked and is ready to be cut off


bottom corners are marked for rounding

The mattress corners  are never square so round them as shown here.

Trim cording is added to top piece.

In this case I am finishing the top edge with a roped cord.  When sewing a lipped cord, always 

place the cord so the part where the lip is sewn on is next to your zipper foot.  The lip will be 1/2" wide.  Sew tight against the cord. 

Lay the top piece aside with it's lining.

Now it is time to make the two side pieces and the bottom piece.

From the piece cut to seam on to the top, cut your side pieces and if possible the bottom.  In this case I only had enough for sides and had to cut off the bolt for the bottom.  Cut the side pieces the finish width as shown on your diagram + 4". 

Cut the lining the same top to bottom and the length of the fabric less 4".  Pin the ends together and sew.  Lay the pieces flat.  You should have 1 1/2"

of fabric folding over fabric on each end.  Pin the bottom(if velvet be sure to check the direction of the knap and select the bottom so the knap will be going in the correct direction).  Sew the bottom with a 1/2" seam.  Turn right side out.     Press and run a 1/4" seam along the top of each piece.

Ends sewn ready for bottom to be sewn

Panel turned ready for top 1/4" seam

Lay side and bottom pieces face to face on the unlined center piece.  Pin in place and attach with a 1/2" seam.

Corner pieces ready to be added

Make two panels using the same technique as with the side and bottom panels.  These should be 1" shorter than the other panels and about 8" wide.

Center them on the corners, pin and attach with a 1/2'" seam on top of the bottom and side panels.

Final lining being prepared for sewing

Now, retrieve the large lining made early on.

Put the spread on the table face down.

Fold both side pieces, bottom piece and corner pieces on to the middle piece.  It is a good idea to pin the corner pieces to the side and bottom panel.  Pinning them helps keep you from accidentally stitching them into your lining seam.

Place the lining on top of all of this and pin it

all around the edges except at the top.  Attach

Spread after turning

lining with a 1/2' seam.  When sewing run through the machine with the lining down so you can sew over the previous seam.

Turn so the lining is out.  By doing it this way you have no exposed seams on the underside of your spread.  Turn any excess fabric and lining under so the top is even and straight.  Top stitch it closed 1/4" from the edge.


I hope you found this to be useful.

Bill Gantt

How to slipcover a wooden chair

 You may notice as you follow this blog that the fabrics may change in the photos.  That is because I made two different slip covers for the same set of chairs.  It seems every time I think I have the best way to cover a wooden chair down, I come up with a new variation.  The same happened with these chairs.  I am convinced that the second way is best.  Just remember that each new chair can have it's own peculiarities which may require you to adjust your approach.

When my client dropped of this little chair I immediately noticed that the seat had very little padding and was hard.  I decided to add padding to the slip cover.

In hind sight I should have repadded the seats of all 4 chairs before starting the slipcovers.

  It was a lot more work to include a place in the seat of the slipcover for removable padding.   On the first set of covers I attached them to the chair with several ties.

On the second set I only used two ties on the back and attached the rest with velcro.  The extra padding is simply put on top of the seat and the slipcover put on top of that.   It was much easier to do and I think the results were better.

I will show the second way here.

I am partial to making the back out of one piece and making the seat and skirt as a separate piece.  I can't find a good reason why these two sections need to be sewn together so I keep them separate.

Measure the back of the chair from highest point to the floor and the widest point horizontally.   On this type of slip cover, keeping the back separate from the seat requires the skirt part to wrap around the chair about six inches on each side.  Since these were cheap little chairs that will always be covered I used thumb tacks to hold the fabric in place.  When it is not possible to use thumb tacks pieces of masking tape should do the job.

Note: The picture shows the top of the "wrap around' for the skirt cut on a downward angle.

  It is better to cut that part on an upward angle.


Using muslin or lining center the fabric on the back of the chair.  Since I am wrapping the bottom part to lap over or under the skirt, I also wrap the top around the thickness of the top.  Carefully smooth the fabric in place and attach it to the chair.  If the back has a lot of shape in it you will either need a few well placed darts or may want to make the side part separate and seam the back and side together.

Once the back fabric is smooth and in place, rub the side of your pencil lead on the edge to mark it.

When the chair has a wooden back I can't resist using the slipcover to make the chair more comfortable, so if you're only doing one chair save the lining  used to make the inside pattern.  Using the same method as on the outside back mark the lining for the inside back pattern.  Leave about 6" extra fabric on the bottom and mark it go around the vertical back pieces and hang behind the seat.  One of the last things you will do is add a piece of loop velcro to this to attach to the back of the seat piece.

After marking the edges on the pattern, remove it, lay it out flat and measure out 1/2" for seam allowance.  This is the line where you will cut the lining.

I use a fine tipped marker to mark the pattern pieces and where they connect.  I usually mark where the fabric pieces are to come together on the final fabric with a marker as well.  Just be careful to stay in the seam allowance.

While it may be tempting to avoid the next step, don't.  Using your largest stitch sew the lining pieces together and put them on the chair as you go.  It is a lot easier and cheaper to correct a problem on lining than on the finish fabric.

In this case you can see if have some rippling along the side.  Kn owing that I will be using ties on the front corners that will pull the back down smooth eliminates concern.  I also learn from my pattern that the back can be made from one piece of fabric, not the two I originally thought I needed.

With the back pattern completed to my satisfaction, I move on to dealing with the uncomfortable seat.  I cut a piece of 2" medium density foam a few inches smaller than the seat.  The edges if the foam are rounded to blend into the seat.  Eventually 2 thicknesses of polyester furniture batting are added as well.

To make the seat cover you


 have to use thumbtacks, but even on a good chair this is not a problem.  The seat must fit tight.   Once again lining is cut more than large enough to fit over the seat and the new foam, is pulled down until I am satisfied it will look good.  The edges are marked and it is taken of and cut.  Notice the marking for the rounded front corners.  If a more tailored look was wanted it could have been "boxed".  That is a top cut, welted and a 3 or 5" inch band attached and the band in turn attached under the seat.

As with all patterns it is folded double and cut to assure it is balanced.  Sew it together with a large stitch and put it into position.  Sometimes the first one doesn't work and you have to do a second until it is right.  It won't be the first time or the last that has happened  

That is why you make a pattern first.

With this piece as with the earlier ones a 1/2" allowance was made beyond the marked edge.  The edges you are going to sew


 have an accurate allowance so it fits the way you planned it.

Here you see the seat cover after the sewing has been done.  Thumbtacks hold it taunt and in  place.  Another line is marked on  the edge of the under side of the chair on the lining.  The pattern will be cut


 this line.  You might make a note to that effect on your pattern.   When the final fabric is cut. this edge will be overlocked and loop velcro sewed against the edge.

Chair seat with the pattern stretched in place.   Notice that the top corners do not fit smoothly.  Even though the bottom edges were marked, I had to tailor the seam further to the top so it would lay smoothly.

Once everything is fitted and marked, it is time to take your pattern apart and use it to cut out the slip- cover fabric.

                                                                         As I said earlier, I like to use the slipcover to make the chair more comfortable.  If you look closely at the picture you can see my pattern for the inside back.  So as not to have batting add thickness to my seam, the batting is cut 1/2" smaller than the pattern.  The batting is then attached with a seam


in from the pattern edge.

Now the main fabric which was cut the exact size as the pattern, is placed on top of the pattern face up.  In this case I elected to add a welted trim which is sewn with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Now the two pieces are sewn together with the planned 1/2" seam allowance.  If you are doing more than one chair you will have cut extra inside back patterns to line your padded inside back piece.

Next the seat fabric is cut to match the pattern.  The two front/top seams are sewn and turned.  Remember no seam allowance was made to the bottom edges because loop velcro is now sewn to the  back side of the edges of the four sides where they will attach to the under sides of the chair.

On the back edge, just above the loop velcro just sewn, sew a strip of loop velcro to the face of the seat fabric.  The padded inside back panel will attach here to the seat piece.

Because I elected to add a welt trim to my chair, it is necessary to topstitch the trim to my seat piece now.

This is done by marking the pattern when held in place with thumb tacks.  Place the chair on a hard flat surface and measure up to the height where you want the skirt to start.  Using a yardstick mark the pattern, front and two sides: every few inches the height you determined the skirt should be attached.  When the three sides are marked take the pattern off , use a straightedge and join your marks together.

This measurement plus

one 1/2"

seam allowance will be the length you cut your skirt fabric.  Nothing is allowed for seam allowance on the bottom because you want the skirt yo be 1/2" above the floor.  When you line the skirt that 1/2" seam will make the skirt the right length to be 1/2" off the floor.

Lay the pattern above each corresponding edge of the seat fabric.  Measure and mark the seat fabric the same as the pattern.  This is where the top of my welt will be.

If there is no welt, you will measure down 1/2" from this mark and make a second mark.  This will be where the edge of the skirt will be placed.

Sewing 1/2" up from this mark will put the stitch exactly on the first mark.  The top of the skirt will start at that seam.

Welt is attached with a zipper foot with the top of the cord

where the skirt will be attached.

In this case after the welt is attached the skirt is placed face to face with the seat fabric.  The edge is kept just on top of the edge of the 1/2" selvedge edge of the welt cord and sewn on tight against the cord,

Skirt is attached to seat part

Here you see the  skirt after it was attached to the seat.  Notice that the peacock is centered.  Often a pleat is put on each front corner.  Because this skirt fabric is a thick upholstery fabric I elected not to do pleats. It would have added too much bulk as well as been difficult to sew.  Hook velcro was stapled to all four sides of the chair frame and the seat is held in place with it.

The outside back fabric was cut according to the pattern, hemmed and edges turned over and stitched.  A tie was added to two corners and the loop velcro that attaches to the lower back added.

Seat hook velcro where inside back attaches

Velcro tabs are added to hold the wrap around

part of the skirt in place

A purple covered button finishes off

the turn over back skirt.

I hope this was helpful.  Be sure to check out all my HOW TO blogs.  

Bill Gantt

Decorating a Master Bedroom

Clients I had helped about 13 years ago with their living room, which they are still enjoying; contacted me about helping with the Master Bedroom.


The room had pinch pleated curtains, sill height, blue carpet and two papers on the wall.  Dividing a wall horizontally always makes the ceiling look lower and the room busier.  It also had a corner window which is always difficult to deal with.

The clients were open to change.



In this "after" shot  the room looks more serene and open.  We selected a pale greenish tan paper with a subtle stripe design.  It lightens the room and ads height.   We eliminated the dated headboard and added a very high upholstered headboard.  The headboard and comforter are both covered in contract grade velvet and should last for years and years.

The First element to be selected in the design was the beautiful embroidered aqua fabric.

Before , dresser with very out dated mirrors

I couldn't resist Quilting the fabric for the center of

the shams

After,  Room is much lighter and open feeling. When the top of the dresser is better

accessorized  this area will be complete.

On the throw pillow I cut out one

aqua oval in the center and replaced

it with the velvet of th comforter.

Because the loose curtains were being replaced with more tailored cornices and roman shades.  It was necessary to make sheers that were attached at the bottom as well as the top.  Loose sheers would get caught up in the romans when they were put up.  On the other hand my clients like to take advantage of fresh air on temperate nights. Having the shades attached at the bottom in the traditional manner would make it impractical to remove them except for occasional cleaning.  I was able to resolve this problem by holding the sheers down with large cup hooks at the bottom and when the window is open the bottom rod will rest on cup hooks put 3/4 the way up the window.

After, Windows look much more tailored

Now the windows look much more tailored.  My clients have daytime privacy and can open the windows easily.  The bold stripe used in the gantt roman shades was also used on the dust ruffle and on the pillow shams.  Just enough to liven things up without taking too much attention.

Before ,

Trim painted the softer hue of the velvet

                                                                                                                            As with all my jobs there were compromises and the finished job is one I am proud of and my clients will enjoy at least as long as they have their living room.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

How to make a corner upholstered cornice board

As far as I am concerned, corner windows were a perverse invention.  They are also difficult to dress.  In this case I decided to make an upholstered cornice board and gantt roman shades do the job.

You probably can't  understand how many ways making a corner treatment messes with your perception.   Before I began work, I measured and drew the outline of the cornice board.  I made a template of what the top should be and then went to the client's house and literally held it up against the ceiling to be sure it was right.

Once I knew I had a good outline of the top I could cut out the pieces and glue and screw the pieces together.  I didn't want it to be too deep and take space out of the average size room.

The form is shown on the right.


The structure is then covered with furniture batting and the fabric is attached as with any upholstered cornice board.

In this case a gold braid was added to the top to accentuate the metallic gold in the fabric.

The bottom was kept flat with no shaping.

The design of the plaster decorative elements allowed me to trim one down to the scale of the small window and keep the original size for the larger one.

The plaster elements were attached as a part of installation.  They had to be positioned over the center of the actual window which means they are not centered on each board.

The stripe of the roman shades help add the needed vertical effect under the very horizontal top treatments.

I hope this was useful. Please let me know what you think.

Bill Gantt

Window treatments- Topper or topless

For those of you who are unfamiiar with the term


let me explain.  It is a skimpy little treatment of fabric stuck at the top of a window.  No matter how tall the window may be "toppers"

are usually no more than 12" long. They are disproportionate little dabs of fabric often sold as "add ons" by people who sell shading systems. The sales pitch is, "You need a little something else to finish off the window."   or "We need something to add a little color." There is no shame in not being able to afford to dress a window properly or completely.  The shame is in

wasting money

on something that is so skimpy it shouts to your guest, "They couldn't afford to do the whole window!"

If form follows function, What are the functions of a proper window treatment?


Make the window aesthetically  more pleasing by:

Softening the lines

Adjusting the proportions ie making it seem taller or wider

Accentuating the good points while playing down the bad

       for example, a round top window should always get a round top


Control the amount of light entering the room

Possibly save on heating or cooling

Provide privacy if needed

Create an architectural effect

Help create a stylistic theme for the room

Applying these standards tells the tale on Toppers.

If you need a privacy treatment do it .  Don't forget there are many styles of custom shades that can be made in many fabrics.  A custom shade in the right fabric can give you privacy, save on heating and cooling and decorate the window properly.  If you don't need privacy wait until you can do it properly.  A bare window at least looks intentional.  A topper looks at best like you lost the rest of

your window treatment in the move.

My advice , if you're thinking of spending money for a topper is DON'T!  

             JUST GO TOPPLESS1

Bill Gantt


Good Design is Never out of Style

Several years ago and before I was in the decorating business, I was looking at a contemporary room at a decorator showhouse.  I commented to my companion that the room was interesting, but would go out of style.  The decorator made his presence known by pronouncing,

  " Good design is never out of style."

  I  have thought about that statement over the years and decided it may have some truth to it.   What exactly are the criteria that determine if a design is good?

While certainly the subjectivity of individual preference is always an issue, there must be some universal standards that apply.

A good design has staying power.

  It should not look foolish or silly

in five or ten years.  The return of the lava lamp could have many

explanations  but great design is not one of them.  Repeating the design

mistakes of the 50's (Retro) is nostalgic and interesting to someone

who did not live through it the first time around.  My point is if these

things had been good design, they would never have disappeared in

the  first place.  The Classics  never go out of style and if good design

should stand the test of time, classics are the past,present and future.

Good design should have utility.

  That is, it should be easy to maintain

provide physical comfort,  and visual pleasure.

Good design should have longevity.

  It should wear well, keep your

interest without demanding it.   If the visual pleasure should lessen , it should not have elements that

will become annoying.

A good design should answer the following questions:

     1.  What is the purpose of the room?

     2.  What will be the natural traffic flow?

     3.  What are the lighting needs?

     4.   What effect does the size and placement of windows have on the room?

     5.   Which elements should be accented, which ones played down?

     6.   Does the room have a natural focal point, a view or architectural detail etc.     If not what will

            the theme or focal point be?

When I decorate a room I want the person seeing it for the first time to think,  "What a beautiful room."   Along with  all the other considerations, this is achieved by 


Except in rare situations where a room is designed to show off

some exceptional detail, all elements in the room should be so


well coordinated that at first view, nothing demands attention

over anything else.

At this point the details become important.   How the windows

are treated.  The carvings or shape of the furniture,  the textures

and patterns of the fabrics, the effect of the lighting, the  accessories

and collectables.  The


are  crucial to the room's ability to

keep your interest over the long haul.  Just be careful to remember that the details should be noticed

last.  They support the design.  If the details detract from the overall impact of the room, they are

too strong.   As always it is essential to know when to stop adding.   To me "elegance" is achieved

by to the edge of tacky, looking over and then taking a few steps back.

Bill Gantt

How to hang Framed Art

The most important thing to remember is no matter how expensive or inexpensive,

  art is an accessory

.        In the decorating world art is to embellish a room's design.

I get so irritated when I look at certain well known magazines and they feature some wealthy person's house.   The house is usually contemporary, painted stark white and it is designed to display the owner's "extensive art collection."   On these stark white walls I see many unrelated paintings of no particular period.   The only purpose they serve is to show a blatant tasteless display of wealth. 

"I can afford to own all these expensive paintings."   Because the paintings are unrelated they don't compliment each other and it is difficult to appreciate any of them.   They distract from one another.

Museums know to display art according to period because by displaying periods or schools together they compliment each other.   Also the viewer can enjoy not only the art but the history of the art.

If these people,   who could buy me a thousand times over truly want to impress each other with their wealth;   They would buy expensive art that relates to its surroundings.   Isn't it more impressive to say, "We decided to sell our traditional mansion so we sent all our Rubens and Rembrandt to Christies."   "We need to get Picasso's for our new contemporary mansion."

The art displayed should relate to the design of the room it is in.  That is not to say you can't slip in something a little different in period so the room doesn't look rigid.   But don't hang dissimilar pieces together.   If your room is traditional its fine to stick  a little Picasso somewhere unexpected.

As much as possible a well decorated room will look balanced from side to side and front to back.

This visual balance is achieved by attempting to equalize the size and mass.   A piano on one side is balanced by a table and wall of art on the opposite wall etc. etc.

Art hung in a gallery effect.

Each wall in the room should have its own focal point and balance.   How the art is hung helps to create the focus.   Too many people hang art in the middle of the wall.   The art should be hung to emphasize the focal point of the wall.  It needs to relate to the things around it.    In my opinion stair wells are the only place where art can be hung without something under it.

When a wall needs art but there is no place or need

for something under it.   Do a gallery effect.


Use two or more pieces starting within six or eight

inches above the baseboard and stack them.   This

creates a pleasing vertical line and creates a pleasing


Two Prints stacked in a gallery effect

The wall behind the sofa, for example  should always

have enough space filled to be important enough

to compliment one of the most important furnishings

in the room.

This can be done with one large piece of art or any number

of smaller pieces that look good together and compliment

each other.   Often candle sconces are used as an attempt

to stretch art that is not large enough.   This usually does

not work.    One, because the sconce usually does not

have enough mass to fill the space and two, because are

you really going to burn candles over your sofa.\

Sconces with dusty candles that are never used are

very unattractive.

 Art and accessories overlap to create an attractive vignette

   Another common mistake is to hang art so that none of it

is blocked from view.   When I help clients with art they

will often say,  "I can't see that picture.  Its behind the

lamp."   I then explain.   To make the wall come off

as l vignette the items must visually overlap.   Otherwise

it is just a wall with a bunch of stuff on it.   You want

the eye to first take in the total space and that being done,

 Dining room illustrates balance from wall to wall

vignette to vignette

examine the detail of each object.   It also gives a "rich"

look.   "I have so many objects I don't have to see every

inch of every one of them."

Regarding the art you use, it is better to have

a good print than a crappy cheap looking

oil painting.   Oil paintings are great if you

can afford well done ones.   The so called

bargain oil paintings you buy off the back

of a truck or the advertised "oil painting

hotel sales"  "sofa size oil paintings for

$100. dollars" are junk.   They are what is

Oil painting and accessories decorate mantle

known as conveyor belt oil paintings, if

they are even oil paintings.   Conveyor belt

"art" is when the canvas goes down the line

and one person paints a sky, another paints

the clouds, another does the trees, another

does the land scape and still another does

the ever present lady with a parasol.

The good oil paintings most people can afford

are ones that although they are repainted are

done by one artist who paints each one from

sketch on canvas to finish.   While the scenes

are similar, because each is painted one at a

time by the same artist each one is a little

different.  Few of us can afford originals,

which might be investment quality.

A collection of objects create a focal point over a sofa

Decorative repainted oils are only investment

in that with inflation they cost more to buy 

each year.

Another thing to avoid are those awful

fake oil paintings.  The "art"  is printed

on a surface that is textured to look like

brush marks.   Of course the brush marks

have no relationship to the picture,

A print has always been affordable art.

What is wrong with this setting?

The art is a little heavy for the small table

and the fruit plaques make the entire

vignette too wide for the table.

When you see a print you know what it

is.   That is the beauty of it .   A print is not

trying to deceive anyone.   There are of course

different kinds and quality prints.   There are

hand colored prints, where a colorist paints

the colors in with water colors.  With the

cost of good matting and framing, even good

prints can be expensive.   The point is

that it is better to have a good print than to

have an imitation oil painting or a badly

done oil painting.   If you can't tell the difference

get someone who can to help you.

Lastly,  if you can afford oil paintings;  they are not

appropriate in every setting.  They imply a formal

setting.   While I have seen it done, I don't think

oils are appropriate in bath rooms or kitchens.

Small vignette with stacked art

As always,I hope you found this useful and  fun.

Please tell your friends about my blog and let me know

what you think.

Bill Gantt

Be sure to check out my Holiday Decorating blogs.

Posted now:

How to make roses out of ribbon

      Christmas gift wrap with roses

      Christmas decorations from roadside weeds

      How to make a Tea Cup Tree

New Christmas decorating blogs will be posted every week!

   Mark your calendar-Holiday Open House-Dec. 1 & 2

Magic! Making doors disappear

We all have rooms that seem to have too many doors.   Doors interrupting the flow of walls,  creating sometimes jarring contrasts that make small rooms even smaller.   Sticking to my rule that sharp contrasts in a room are not good.   Wall colors should be warmer with natural or stained wood.

Painted trim should blend with the colors selected for the room.   Sometimes even following those rules,  doors can create a visual disturbance.

In many homes without the luxury of walk in closets,  bedrooms have a wall of doors covering closets.   In almost every case home owners wish these rooms were bigger.   Making those closet doors disappear will at least give the illusion the room is bigger.   In situations where it may not look good to put furniture so close to a door,  camouflaging the doors can allow more visual space for furnishings.

Wallpapered doors and moldings make these doors disappear 

Upholstered wall and doors.  Pictures on doors complete the illusion.

In some rooms too many doors may not be the problem.  A lack of architectural interest  or the style of the windows may be the problem.   In this case treating a door more like a window may help.    For example,  a room with small casual windows with sills four foot above the floor make it difficult to create a grand effect.     If the room is to be casual work with what you have.   However if you want something more elegant,  treat the windows  very simply.   Sheer set inside or a roman shade the same pattern and color of the walls.  In this case you are making the


disappear.  Instead of trying to force the windows to accept a treatment too fancy for them, give the door the attention.   The door after all has the proportions needed .   Too many people, unfortunately some who call themselves  decorators will dress these little pig windows  in great  ball  gown window treatments.                                                                                                                                                  

How much more can this little window stand?


How much more can this little window take?

A bit much don't you think?

They will make a pathetic attempt to hide the short little "pig"  behind behind a sheer treatment.

Of course no amount of sheer can camouflage what is behind it.   Then to ad insult to injury, they add  a large formal treatment often with tie back panels to the floor.   The whole thing looks like a toddler playing dress up in mommies prom gown.    As Christopher Dresser said, referring to things like wicker


or pottery made to look like


"One element should not stoop to do poorly what another does well."   Wicker has qualities that make it desirable.   It is flexible, it allows air to circulate; but it certainly does not hold water.   Holding water is why we have



The same holds true with windows.   A little window is intended to be inconspicuous.   It is to simply let light and air into the room.   Forcing a small window to carry the load of a much larger looks unsettling and is


Draped interior arch ads detail by framing entry to next area

Draped interior door adds architectural detail

To summarize, if you have a room with casual windows and want casual work with what you have.

If however,  have little windows but want a grand room; take attention away from the windows

and focus on something imposing,  a work of art,  a great piece of furniture or even a door.

If you have a room with too many doors blend them into the rest of the room as much as possible with color, pattern or"

make them disappear"

As always I hope you find this useful.   Please tell your friends .

     Let me know what you think.

Bill Gantt

3319 Derry St



Don't forget Holiday Decorating starts October 20!      

Decorating Walls

For the last ten or so years walls have either been neglected or tortured.  They either have been given a boring coat of paint or had to endure coat after coat of paint.   In the later case, they have been rag rolled, tissue painted, mottled, sponged, french plastered, etc. etc.   While some of these create texture, they are essentially differing techniques of adding background color to a room.  

As with many things, when we decide we like something we throw moderation to the wind.   We can't get enough.    Only when there is nothing left to sponge paint, glaze or dapple we begin to realize perhaps we may have gone overboard.    I am a huge fan of faux finishes and trompe l' oeil  when the effect is subtle and carefully integrated into the scheme to achieve an overall result.    In many cases  these effects have become the overriding element in the design not the supporting element they should be .

Two patterned wallpapers used in field & style arrangement

 In areas where there are no furniture or windows like halls and stairs, naturally the walls gain importance.    But in areas that include furnishings walls should be more supportive of the room decor.   Many houses are virtually devoid of architectural interest.   Aside from baseboards, window moldings and the occasional crown molding the detailing must be added.   In every design subtle;e detail is essential.   It is what keeps the space interesting


It what keeps you from getting tired of the design .

Let me share with you  some things  I do to add interest and details to walls.  


It is being said that wallpaper is back in style.   As far as I'm concerned sales might have been slow , but wallpaper was never out of style.

Close up of mini border style

Wallpaper can have a big impact on a room,  but most often I like to use it to create an effect.   When you select a subtle wallpaper design you know what the finish will look like.   I know of people who hired a painter to do a faux finish.   They got a sample board yet when the work was done it had little resemblance to the sample.   Wallpaper can give the effect of many of the textured finishes,  but when its time for a change the walls don't have to be refinished.

Dining Room  room set with wallpaper field and wooden styles

If budgets allowed I would try to accommodate

all the elements into every room.   Unfortunately

in the real world things must be kept within budgets.   I usually have to pick and choose

to get the most look for the least money.

Field and styles

Wallpaper field and style add very subtle detail

ments.  Style is the Old English term for


fence and of course "field" is the area enclosed

by the "style"[fence].

Typically the styles are wooden moldings,  but

I started using mini borders years back instead.

This makes field and style treatments very cost

effective.   A mini border is a fancy stripe cut

from a striped wallpaper.

For the field I like to use a marbleized or other

faux finish wallpaper.  I like the wallpaper to

Two storey foyer with wooden style moldings

be as close in color to the painted wall as is possible.   Don't forget detail must be subtle!

I use this treatment in two ways.   I either panel

out the entire room or do one or two over the

main elements in the room.

Never never 1 wall


The only justification for one wall for me is if

you have a room that is about twice as long as

it is wide.   In that case I sometimes use a strong

paper at the far end to visually bring the room

into square.

      Two storey foyer in a new Victorian decorated in period

As far as I am concerned  "Accent walls" should

be called "Accident Walls"   Why would

anyone do that on purpose?    They either

look like you were too cheap to paper the whole

room or you ran out of paint.

The two storey foyers demand this kind of

decoration.   If you look to history these very

high ceilinged rooms were always detailed out.

This space needs to be broken down.   It needs

architectural detail.   I have seen people spend

thousands of dollars on hand screened wallpaper

to get the large repeats they think they need for

Looking toward the ceiling.

these areas.   Unfortunately the large open space

they had becomes a large busy space filled with

huge patterns or flowers.

On stairwell walls the "sides"  of the styles

must be vertical

with the tops and bottoms

following the lines of the ceiling and baseboards.

A dramatic dining room with wallpaper set into gold sttyles

It can be attractive to hang art work inside

the styles.   However if the art is too big to

fit, I have no problem letting it cover the

styles as long as it is centered on them.

A large mirror is centered over two field and styles

As always thanks for visiting my blog.   Please tell your friends.   I hope you find the information

informative and useful.   Let me know what you think of it.   The next one will be about decorative

art and how to hang it.

Bill Gantt

Photos of 2012 Christmas Decorating at Gantts Decorating

This is simply a photo album of the shop decorated for Christmas 2012.   The only ideas I have not blogged are the Thorn Branches to decorate Book Shelves.  You might look closely at them and refer to Making Christmas Decorations from roadside Weeds.  Enjoy.

Thorn-like branches painted metallic gold

add a holiday touch to book shelves

Metallic branches in bookshelf

Brown 1/2 upside down tree

Animated Show Window--State Room in a  Sunken Ship

Wishing you a joyous Holiday and a great New Year

Bill Gantt

Creating an Animated Christmas Show Window

Over the years I have always made an animated show window for my shop.  Since I do all the animation myself,  it can be very time consuming.  I have learned as long as I have imagination, fish line and some electric motors, I can animate.  I'm sure people who are really good at it will consider my work very amateur.  Those of you like me, with limited scientific skills; may find this useful.  Those of you with technical skills, it should be good for a laugh.

New addition to "Sunken Ship Christmas Window"

Beginnings of "Sunken Ship Show Window"

Two years ago when I revived this window, I realized it would be necessary to come back to differing versions of the same theme.  I made the

major elements so they could be disassembled and stored.  Three elements like this were made for the frame of the sloping floor.

This was the first animated Christmas window I did.  The main part was the sloping floor with an open "treasure chest" with large fish swimming around it.  To accomplish the swimming fish I replaced the ceiling tiles with ply-board painted squares.  I mounted an electric motor above the ceiling with several pulley wheels and a large v belt.  This has been used to create movement in a number of different themed windows, including the second incarnation of a "Monkey Sultan on a Flying Carpet" Christmas window.

Floor Supports being assembled

Egg crate designed floor supports being

fitted together

Sloped floor is complete

The horizontal floor supports are fit together making an egg crate pattern.  Next 3/8  "  ply board was cut to size and covered in a fabric patterned much like an oriental carpet.   All pieces are marked for assembly.

Floor as seen from the outside

The ply board is spot screwed into place.

Next 1/4" ply board is cut to give the illusion of a hole in the hull of a ship and is positioned to cover up the floor structure.

Motor for octopus

Small motor inside trunk

moves several fish

To make the octopus I used a silver sequenced fabric.  A plastic Halloween pumpkin was used.

A block of wood about 4'x 4" x 4" was hollowed out in the center and attached to the inside bottom of the pumpkin.  The octopus was attached to the pumpkin.  The hole in the inside of  the pumpkin sits on the dowel .  The dowel is attached to the screw in the motor wheel with a screw eye.  The screw eye rides on a plastic sleeve which has a large washer on either side.

Dowel attached to motor wheel

goes through a slot in a false top

of the trunk and the Octopus head

sits on top of it

A generous slot is cut in a false top for the trunk.  The dowel goes through the slot and the octopus head sits on top of it.  As the motor turns the wheel the octopus goes up and down and side to side.

Octopus sits in trunk ready to go

A water line is established near the ceiling.  A still lit tree floats as beads and balls float away from it at the top of the water.  Port holes add to the "state room" effect.  Large paper- mache' fish are attached with fish line and staples to the revolving v belt at the ceiling.   Other fish are wired in such a way as to make the  look like they are picking at something as fish will do.  New to this "Sunken Stateroom Window" is the "School of fish."

Christmas tree in chartreuse and red

Tree ready to be decorated with items

on the floor

I thought I would share this tree with you because it has some interesting effects.

The first time I did this tree I started with a Santa Topper.

I had the curved branches laying in the fore ground.  Not knowing what else to do with them I began putting them evenly around the top of the tree.

When they were all in place the top somewhat resembled a fountain.   Santa began to resemble a scene from an old Esther Williams film.   It looked like Santa was going to dive out of the fountain I had inadvertently created.    Santa was relieved of his

position and I continued onward.

Items planned for tree

Tree topper

With Santa in retirement, I needed something that would look good.   Unfortunately I don't have progressive photos of this one.  I used a 24" wooden dowel, wrapped it with some cheap roping, stapled the roping at each end.   I then worked some over sized beads and lights into the mix. Four 36" lengths of wired ribbon were cut of green and red.   They were wired on to the top of the dowel shaped as you see and wired along with the ends of the beads about 12" from the top of the dowel.  The lights were plugged in and the whole thing wired into the top of the tree.

Considering the size of the tree and what I had to put on it,  I decided I would get more mileage out of the ornaments by using several of them in like arrangements placed evenly on the tree.


Large arrangements added to the tree

Arrangement of  several items

Looking up at the finished top

With the top dealt with, and the arrangements in place; over sized glass red balls were added between the arrangements.

Balance of ornaments added .

Red glass balls added

Looking closely at the picture below, you can see another trimming idea.   I must admit it is not mine.

Three consecutive lengths of wired ribbon are cut and wired together on one end.  The short one is on top and the end is coiled down.   The next longest one just below is coiled down the same way.  The bottom one is also coiled.  This is a good technique to fill the tree, especially if you are a little short of ornaments.  It is also a good way to blend the colors on a tree by representing them in this treatment.

Don't skimp do plenty of them and put them evenly

on the tree.

Close up of completed red and chartreuse tree


I hope you found this useful.  Check our my other 19 or 20 Christmas Decorating blogs at   Please tell your friends.    Mark your calendar!

Holiday Open House     Dec 1 & 2

Bill Gantt