DIY faux wallpaper using just fabric and starch

Ok guys, seriously. Do you ever see something and go “oh my holy no way what the really whaaaa?” Yup. Had one of those recently. I saw the gorgeous wall pictured above, and thought “wow, that is the coolest wallpaper. Too bad wallpaper is pretty much permanent, and a huge pain to work with, and really expensive…” But then, the decor gods shined upon me and a miracle occurred. I learned that this “wallpaper” isn't really wallpaper at all! It's – are you sitting down? – FABRIC. Applied only with STARCH. And it's TEMPORARY. And REUSABLE. And it's EASY. And it looks AMAZING. *enter beams of light and angelic music* So please welcome Adrienne from Chic California to tell us how it's done! Take it away, Adrienne.

Thanks Jordan! In the land of Chic California, we are renters. Which for someone like me, who likes loves to decorate and paint, then change her mind and paint again, renting can be torture!

When we moved in everything was cream. I can promise you it is not the color I would have chosen. So what could I do other than get creative?! I decided to add some pizazz to our walls that wouldn't make our landlords hate us! It only took about 3 hours start to finish and had a much greater affect on the room than I ever imagined!

Here's how to make your own DIY faux wallpaper:

Here's what you need:

  • Fabric
  • Push Pins (lots of them)
  • Spray Bottle
  • Liquid Starch- I used Sta Flo that I picked up in the laundry aisle at Walmart for less than $2 a bottle. I ended up using 2 bottles for one wall.
  • Drop Cloth

Here's what you do:

  • First, figure out how much fabric to order.

Uggh, math. I measured my wall and converted that measurment to yardage using a handy dandy converter I found online. I figured I needed about 10 yards to cover my wall. I ordered 12 just to be sure. I figured I could always make something fabulous and chic out of the extra.

I found this fantastic Chevron fabric online at Hobby Lobby. It was perfect because it was a heavier canvas fabric and it had a creamier background instead of white like most chevron fabrics I have found.

Chevron Zig Zag Drake

(Hobby Lobby)

  • Next, fill your spray bottle with the liquid starch. I left it as-is and didn't thin it down, and it sprayed perfectly.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch & fabric

  • Pin and hang the fabric.

I started by hanging the first piece of fabric with push pins along the top. Unless you have a helper or 4 hands, it is tricky to hold the fabric in place while spraying the starch and smoothing the fabric. I used the selvedge edge to make sure I had a straight line along the wall. I also left about an inch of extra material at the top that I would trim later. Once the top edge and some of the side edge was secured I started spraying.

DIY faux wallpaper using fabric and starch

  • Spray the starch.

I sprayed the wall first, then the back of the fabric, then the front of the fabric until everything was pretty well saturated. I started with a drop cloth on the floor to catch any drips but I kicked it out of the way after awhile. My floors are wood so I knew I could mop any drips. If I had carpet I would have left it.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

  • Smooth and tug!

I smoothed the fabric, and pulled it tight as I went along.

On the second sheet of fabric I had to work around the light switch and outlet. I will admit I am kind of a sloppy DIY'er. So I just smoothed the fabric over the light switch and outlet and went back with a rotary cutter and cut around it.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

If I was doing this again, I would be a more patient DIY'er and I would have removed the switch plate and outlet covers all together before I started applying the fabric.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

  • Correct as needed.

By my third sheet I hit a snag. My chevron was starting to slowly slope. Not sure if it was the fabric or me or my wall. So I carefully lined up the chevron to keep things on track. This meant overlapping my fabric a bit at the seam. When you are up close to my wall you can see the overlap. But because the Chevron is such a busy pattern from a normal distance it is not even noticeable.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

You can barely see the seam in the uppers left hand corner.

  • Smooth and final spray.

I continued to pin the top of each sheet of fabric until I got to the end of the wall. When I had all the fabric up I went back and gave everything another spray and smoothed out any air bubbles just for good measure.

  • Cut and trim.

The last thing I did was use my rotary cutter along the moulding and baseboards to cut the excess fabric.

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

This ended up being a much easier project than I had anticipated. And it had a much bigger impact on the room than I ever thought possible.  It took about 3 hours total. (There was a lunch break and a school pickup in between!)

The results speak for themselves:

DIY faux wallpaper using starch & fabric

Amazing transformation, right??

DIY faux wallpaper using starch & fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch & fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric


If we ever move from this house this wall treatment will simply peel off. Then the wall will just need a wipe down to remove any starch residue. And the best part is the fabric can be reused. A toss in the washing machine and the fabric is good as new.


DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric


DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

DIY faux wallpaper using starch and fabric

Here are a few things I would do differently next time:

1)Remove light plate and outlet covers first

2)Loosen moulding to put fabric under. It would have saved me from using my rotary cutter and I would not have had to be so even with my cutting.  I could have just covered it with moulding.

3) Use a more forgiving fabric. I love the Chevron on my fabric but for a first timer it would have been a bit easier to use something that didn't have to be lined up so precisely.

When you get up close to my new chevron wall, you can see some imperfections. But I think that the Chevron fabric actually camouflages my mistakes and everything blends together.

I'm so happy with the result. It looks like wallpaper. It warms up my room and gives me the look I wanted without the commitment. Perfect for any renter or homeowner that wants a temporary and inexpensive solution to an ugly wall problem.

Give it a try for yourself!

A little about Chic California: I'm an Ohio girl transplanted to California and enjoying the California lifestyle. I love to write, craft, design and refurbish previously loved furniture. I love the style of California and I hope to share that with you. Chic California is all about sunshine, sand, and the outdoor lifestyle. It's a little bit Chic, a little bit Shabby, and little bit Surfer all rolled into one. I hope you stop by and say hi!