Dear Karla

Q: I am renting a small cottage, that is very cute, but really boring, with beige walls.

Can you suggest a way to inject some personality into the living room? I would like to paint or use wallpaper, but my landlord will not approve – Katie Lord, via email.


A:  I recently had this issue for a client of mine, renting an office space. The solution to a fantastic room was to use fabric on the walls, secured in place with fabric starch. The fabric can be removed at a later date, with no damage to the paint underneath.

Some pattern will bring the space to life in your living space. I would suggest applying the fabric to the smaller walls beside the fireplace, but keep it reasonably neutral. You can then inject some colour with cushions and accessories.

design dilemma1

To make the fabric starch, boil 3 cups of water, to one tablespoon on cornstarch. Once the mixture thickens, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

Use the mixture like wallpaper paste, applying to the wall with a roller. Wash fabric first, then iron. Apply fabric over the applied cornstarch, making sure that the fabric is straight. Once all fabric is up on the wall, paint the cornstarch over the top of the fabric and allow to dry. When dry, trim the edges of the fabric.

To remove later, wet the fabric wall, and slowly peel away the fabric. Wash with sugar soap and voila!

Good Luck!