Creative home design ideas for fabrics — walls and ceilings

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

All sorts of textiles can be hung on walls—tapestries, tweed, suede, hessian, silk, flannel and, of course, kilim rugs. Fabric panels can be used to cover one wall or to line a whole room, acting as a kind of insulating wallpaper. Single pieces of fabric look effective hung individually as a feature.

You can use a staple gun to attach fabric directly on the wall but a better method is to fix the fabric to battens. It is hardly worth buying a staple gun for this but they can sometimes be hired from tool hire stores. If the fabric is plain, pictures and prints can be hung on top so you will not have wasted any display space.

Individual hand-woven tapestries can be hung from rods or poles fixed to a picture rail. Kilims make excellent hangings, being weighty and in colors which coordinate with many interior styles. If you have a lighter-weight hanging, such as a batik, you could weight the bottom by sewing small ball bearings in the hem so that it hangs well.

Ceilings can be softened, and ugly ceilings concealed, with looped fabric. This is specially suitable for halls where a very little fabric can conceal a multitude of gas and electric meters and other unfortunate sights. Muslin is cheap and effective because it drapes prettily and is unobtrusive. All you have to do is make a hem at each end wide enough to get a rod (a bamboo or a narrow wooden batten) through and fix the rods to the ceiling. You could perhaps create another channel halfway along the length of fabric for an extra rod, allowing plenty of fabric to loop between them.

Narrow rooms can be treated in the same way, with the fabric caught at intervals to create a scalloped effect. This is very good for concealing unsightly ceiling treatments and for lowering the ceiling to make the space less box-like. It does not matter if the fabric is not quite as wide as the ceiling—a few centimeters each side will not be noticeable.

Different general lighting in your rooms

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

The purpose of general lighting is to allow you to see where you are and where you are going, and to identify the objects and furniture in a room. It includes lighting for safety and you should ensure that staircases are well lit without casting confusing shadows, and that you can see the whole of a room, including individual pieces of furniture which might be knocked into otherwise.

The best general light is probably daylight. If you have large windows or roof lights, then you have a head start over people who live in dark basements. However, at night you will need some sort of general electric light and the best idea is to keep it simple.

Many people rely on a single central bulb to provide general lighting, but if you find this a bit bleak you can have lights fitted into the ceiling which have adjustable sockets so they can be swiveled to face in different directions: straight down or towards a wall or worktop, as you wish. These are less obtrusive than spot lamps and are effective for providing good general lighting. They are often used as work lights as well, for example, over a kitchen worktop.

Spot lamps (or eyeball lamps) are effective in most parts of the home as general lighting.

Spots can be fitted individually or on a special track which holds two or three at a time, angled in different directions. For general lighting, choose a spot bulb with a wide beam because too narrow a beam will only highlight details of the room. In a very small or low room, a spot bulb may glare into people’s eyes and a bulb with a silvered end would therefore be preferable.

It may not be necessary for the lighting to be at full strength all the time, particularly when it is combined with other forms of lighting, so it makes sense to have it on a dimmer switch which gives you control over the level of brightness.


A step, or even a slight change in level, can cause people to trip if they don’t see it so all steps and staircases must be properly lit. A light shining downwards from an eyeball fixture or a spot lamp in the ceiling should cover the whole area. The placing of lights on staircases is important because the steps and risers must not fall in shadow. A fluorescent tube hidden behind a wooden strip or baffle will light up the individual steps. The effect can be softened by the addition of wall lamps with opaque shades, which emit a diffused light. These give a soft glow, helping to soften the main light and making any shadows less strong. Nowadays you can buy low-voltage fluorescent bulbs which will fit into standard sockets.

Living rooms

In many rooms, general lighting can be provided by lamps directed towards the ceiling, from which the light is reflected back into the whole room. There is a wide choice of standard and wall lamps which cast their light upwards. Low-voltage tungsten-halogen bulbs are coated with a special gas to give a bright, white light when heated up, not unlike daylight. They incorporate transformers and dimmer switches, which makes them very versatile and economical. Modern standard tungsten-halogen up lighters are usually elegant and good-looking, they take up little floor space and one should provide enough lighting for general purposes or for work in a small- to average-sized room.

General lighting can also be provided by wall lamps, which give an attractive, diffused glow by reflecting light off the wall.

Creative ideas for fabrics in your home — bedrooms

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

One of the cheapest ways to redecorate a bedroom is to change the pillowcases or bedcover, which can revive a room quite surprisingly. The choice of bedcovers and pillowcases in bedding departments often makes one forget the opportunities for making them at home. Some pillowcases are made with a different pattern on each side so you can ring the changes by mixing and matching them. This is another idea that would be easy and cheap to do yourself.

Two Indian bedspreads can become an unusual duvet cover and there are many other interesting fabrics to use, perhaps to get away from the idea that bedrooms should be flowery and feminine. The important thing is to choose cotton which is fine and soft; you don’t want anything scratchy in bed.

Quilted comforters, which are not as bulky as duvets or eiderdowns, add extra warmth in winter without adding much weight. They fold away into next to nothing for storage and if the fabric is chosen carefully, will provide a different winter color for the room.

Traditional patchwork quilts were made of old pieces of fabric and clothes so that nothing was ever wasted. Modern quilts may be in traditional designs or very carefully chosen fabrics in modern designs. They are often works of art which are better hung on the wall than spread over a bed.

A canopy over the bed can be in almost any fabric because it will not suffer from wear and tear. Lace, voile, muslin, sprigged cotton or Indonesian batik will create a summery effect and brocade, velvet or woven fabrics will make you feel warm in winter.

Creative ideas for fabrics at home — cushions

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Cushions are another quick and simple way to bring a jaded interior to life or to introduce a touch of the exotic. They can also transform a newly designed interior which seems a little too tasteful or bland.

In many homes cushions become a feature in their own right, providing comfortable support on shabby chairs and sofas or used as floor seating, specially for children. It is usually best to buy the cushions from a cheap supplier and to buy the fabric or made-up covers separately; buying cushions and covers together is an expensive way of doing things.

If you are grouping cushions, choose colors and fabrics which either match each other or complement the existing furnishings in the room. If it is a fairly formal room and you have chosen pale colors and sophisti¬cated curtain treatments, such as ruched curtains with large pelmets, then the cushions should be carefully made with frills and piping in toning colors. Pale golds and greens would not be flattered by scarlet but would be better with deep greens and golds. A room with an ethnic look, with kilims on the floor and curtains in Indian-printed cotton, would look better with a group of cushions in ethnic embroideries and deep-colored prints, with no need for frills or piping. Very feminine rooms look pretty with smaller cushions than normal in lace or broderie anglicize covers, perhaps even with small bows.

Floor cushions were at one time very fashionable but if you are not actually using them they are liable to get in the way and are difficult to store. Instead, two pillows can be fitted into one large square cushion cover so that you have pillows for the spare bed or sofa-bed when visitors stay, but can conceal the spare bed with big and small cushions as a divan when they leave.

If you buy or make cushion covers the same shape as pillowcases, you can use pillows inside them so that when you have guests all you have to do is substitute pillowcases for the cushion covers.

Fabrics which drape well can be slightly gathered as though they were curtains, implying there might be a window behind them. This is a good trick for covering a bad piece of plastering or some other eyesore you are stuck with.