Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

I frequently do Skype consultations with people who need clever, inexpensive fixes for their spaces and are having difficulty envisioning possibilities. Often, they are only able to describe the change in feeling that they’d like to achieve.

In the many spaces I’ve looked at, I’ve seen a common problem: there is a lot of visual clutter. Often it is as simple as open shelving displaying a mash-up of books, boxes, collectables,and essential items. Their numerous small disparate shapes present as clutter, even though everything may be useful and necessary to the client’s life. This is especially common with people who are renting their space, and don’t want —or have the where-with-all— to invest in proper storage.

There is an amazingly simple solution:use fabric to disguise whatever it is you don’t want to see. Recently, I found an excellent example in my photo archive.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

When I was renovating the Laboratory, I had to cannibalize the kitchen cabinets in the apartment I was still living in, removing the doors and a drawer cabinet so they could be painted and installed in the new space. At the end of a day’s deconstruction, I was faced with all the stuff inside the cabinets (which I hadn’t yet edited for moving), as well as a jerry-rigged kitchen counter on sawhorses. The room became so busy, ugly and disordered-feeling that I thought I’d go nuts. I pulled out my fabric stash and found some striped French cotton duck.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

I simply folded and tacked them to the front of the cabinets, and onto my plywood kitchen counter. It instantly shifted the feeling in the room and got me through the final few weeks of pulling up stakes. (Cotton painter’s dropclothes are a good source of inexpensive, neutral fabric…)

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

This same principle applies to just about anything you want to disguise. One of these days, I’ll document the many ways you can transform a hotel room using the existing textiles and a pashmina shawl…

Related posts: pretty, multi-purpose find: turkish towels
design your own textiles
chic, draped + wrapped sofa = instant slipcovers
chic, not shabby, drop cloth-draped sofa

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4 replies on “how to use fabric to disappear eyesores and clutter

  1. I love to use fabric to cover up the ugly! I have a lot of baskets and totes, and if I’m straightening quickly, I’ll throw things in one of them and lay a bandana (beautiful ones from the Gap from years ago) or a tea towel or a cotton scarf to cover it up. I also cover stacks of clothes in our bedroom, recycling bins (that for now are out in the open), and unfolded wash in wash baskets. Most of these scarves are blue, and it creates a calm, unified look. Tablecloths work, too.

  2. Thanks for these ideas: all great. Fabric is an all-around great tool.
    I’m still at it: a beautiful piece of linen covers the tv…and the still-unpacked boxes from my move are much easier to bear covered….

  3. If you want a more permanent look, you can cover the tack/nails with ribbon or put the fabric on “upside down”, ie, tack the top facing down from underneath (fabric falls on your head) then let the rest fall and it’s a nice slightly billowy look. Another semi-permanent way is to glue “velcro” to the hard surface and glue or sew its complement to the fabric and put it on. Or, if one sews, gather the fabric a little and cover the gather with ribbon or seam binding and hang by one of the above methods. If the space you want to cover is straight, you can sew or glue a casing for a narrow curtain rod and hang it from nails; or if there’s room use a spring rod to go between 2 spaces. Depending on the look you want, burlap could work there.

  4. MORE GREAT IDEAS!!!!. Hadn’t thought of these. Thanks so much.

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