A (padded) room of one's own
February 10, 2009 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out a solution for textured rental walls?

I've recently moved into a new apartment, of the sort whose rental contract requires that you leave it in exactly the same condition as when you moved in. All the walls (and 9' ceilings) in this place are pale dull yellow and totally covered in popcorn texturing, which I thought I could live with when I signed the lease, but now I'm starting to think it will drive me nuts (not to mention I tend to bump into walls, and these walls bump back. Ow.)

Putting up wallpaper isn't going to hide the texture, and will make a huge mess when I have to tear it down when I move out. Chipping off the popcorn and repainting is also going to be more of a mess than I want to deal with, and I'm also hearing things about toxic dust particles in the stuff, and I refuse to have to put it back up when I leave. Basically I don't want to do anything to the walls that will cost major money to undo.

So right now I'm thinking about using some heavier fabric to cover at least the living room and bedroom walls, maybe tacking up some crown molding along the ceiling to hold up the edges and cutting and hemming holes for switchplates and such. Is this feasible? What type of fabrics would work with this? I've never done upholstery or drapery besides putting up curtains, but I can sew decently.

Or do you have a better idea?
posted by casarkos to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Sounds like a plan....popcorn on the walls? yuk!
posted by patnok at 7:51 PM on February 10, 2009

Your fabric idea is very doable.

I "wallpapered" an apartment that way ages ago. I found some flat sheets on sale in a pattern I liked, and put them up using thumbtacks with heads that matched the fabric color. It took some patience, but I was able to match the pattern and overlap the sheets so the seams were not obvious. The crown molding idea is good, but I didn't go that far.

Keep in mind also that once you start hanging pictures and placing furniture, the seams and other imperfections won't be that noticeable.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:55 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

ditto Fuzzy Skinner, (sheets are a great idea--they cover a lot for cheap--also lots of fabric stores have some great buys on cotton fabrics right now).

If you want a more finished look w/out the expense and effort of molding, after you tack up the fabric as suggested use double-sided tape on the back of wide bias tape, grosgrain ribbon or??, in a matching or contrasting color to add a clean edge along the top. The tape will hold it practically indefinitely.

Happy decorating!
posted by mumstheword at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2009

Apartment Therapy has some tips about using starch to apply fabric to walls. Not sure if that would work with popcorn texture, but it does give some extra stiffness.

You could also hang fabric like a curtain from a wire or hospital track.
posted by barnone at 10:49 PM on February 10, 2009

I grew up in a house with very rough textured walls, and have the scars on my body to prove it.

I tried tacking heavy fabric to the wall, but it did not look finished, always some wrinkles, hanging pictures was a mess, and the texture ended up showing through.

What worked for me was getting pieces of thin plywood, approx 2 by 4 feet is what I found cheap, and covering them with a layer of batting and fabric, stapled to the back of the panels. I made sure that the fabric was taut and wrinkle free. I nailed these to the wall with small nails, the heads got lost in the pattern. If you use double sided tape it will look cleaner.

It looked good, made for a very decent sound insulation and was easy to replace. I got rid of it once I started smoking when I got paranoid about fires.
posted by dirty lies at 5:49 AM on February 11, 2009

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