I’ve been on a huge reptile kick lately!
It all started with Netflix’s new “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, two episodes of which are devoted to the children’s eccentric Uncle Monty who is obsessed with reptiles. And I quickly became obsessed with the set design of Uncle Monty’s fantastic, reptile-themed house.
I never thought I would spend hours searching for the perfect snake wallpaper (surprisingly hard to find, you guys!), but my eyes were really opened to the beauty of reptilian colors and patterns… It turned out to be just the creative spark I needed for this nook in our master bedroom!
*The fabric for today’s post was kindly provided by my friends at Fabric.com. Links in today’s post may be affiliate links, which generate income to help keep The Gathered Home running and never cost you anything extra!
When I spotted this faux leather gator fabric on Fabric.com, I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into the master bedroom design somehow for my reptile fix – it’s not just patterned, it’s also beautifully and realistically textured!
My friend Jessica recently shared her upholstered accent wall, where she used fabric to add some flair to her hallway!
With her DIY fresh on my mind, I decided that a faux alligator feature wall was exactly what this little alcove in our bedroom demanded…
• Fabric of your choice – I used this faux gator vinyl from Fabric.com. With 100% honesty, I can say that Fabric.com is the first place I look when I have a fabric-based project in mind – their selection is incredible and their prices are fantastic!
To figure out how much fabric you will need, measure the height and width of your wall. Remember, one yard of fabric is 36″, so divide the height of your wall in inches by 36. In my case, my wall’s height from the baseboard to the ceiling is 118″, so that’s about 3.3 yards of fabric for the height of the wall.
Next, you’ll need to know the width of the fabric you are ordering. The gator vinyl’s width is 54″, and my wall is 83″ wide. So I knew I would need two widths of fabric to cover the wall.Finally, when you are matching a pattern, you need to order a little bit extra. I could have gone with 7 yards and called it a day, but I knew I might need to stagger the panels slightly to allow the patterns to line up, so I went with 8 yards.
• 7/8″ or 1″ ribbon, color of your choice – Again, this is totally up to you! I went with black grosgrain ribbon and ended up using about 21 yards.
• Brass thumb tacks – I decided to use thumb tacks rather than upholstery tacks simply because they were cheaper. The thumb tacks are mainly decorative, rather than functional, so this project doesn’t require heavier-duty upholstery tacks.
Again, a little bit of math was involved to figure out how many tacks I needed. Once I decided on my spacing (every 3″), I simply divided the height and width of the wall by 3 to figure out how many tacks I needed for each row (about 39 vertically, 28 horizontally, in my case.) All in all, I ended up using about 212 tacks.
• Stapler + 3/8″ staples – Another excuse to pull out my beloved air compressor, you guys! This time I tried out the included crown stapler, with T50 3/8″ 10mm staples. It’s a bit heavy-duty for upholstery (I’m eyeing a pneumatic upholstery stapler next!), but worked well for the project and the heavy vinyl fabric.
Don’t have an air compressor? No worries! I’m not a huge fan of electric staple guns – I always end up having to spend extra time on misfired staples and staples that don’t go in all the way – but your standard, run of the mill heavy-duty hand staple gun should work just fine for this project. It’s a great, cheap tool to have in your arsenal, if you don’t own one already! Just be warned that small hands can take a beating from the repetitive kickback.
• Laser level – So handy for helping align your fabric on the wall! You can even just trace the laser line for reference when you’re stapling.
- Staple remover tool – Awesome for pulling any staples without damaging the fabric! I ended up using this quite a bit as I figured out alignment.
- Rotary cutting wheel – Not essential, but a nice solution for trimming the edges after stapling up the fabric!
- Rubber mallet – In case you need some extra force to push the thumb tacks into the wall.
Step 1: Plot your fabric placement.
Since I needed to use more than one width of fabric to cover this wall, I had to figure out how I wanted to seam it. I decided against putting a seam right in the middle of the wall, so I chose to use a full width of fabric in the center, with thinner panels on either side.
My wall: 83″ wide. The fabric: 54″ wide. Leaving about 14.5″ on either side of the middle panel (in an ideal world).
I say “in an ideal world,” because one thing I’ve learned is that very few things in a house are perfectly straight, walls being one of them. So actually, the width of the wall at the floor and the width of the wall at the ceiling were two slightly different numbers.
This is where the laser level came in super handy, so I could get my measurements set in the middle of the wall and have a perfectly level line extending up and down from there.
In fact, I didn’t own a laser level before this and went out and bought one specifically for this project!
Step 2: Lay out and cut your fabric.
Measure the height of the wall and add few inches to that measurement before cutting your fabric.
Remember: you can always cut the fabric shorter, but you can’t easily add length to it!
If your wall is wider than the width of your fabric, this is also where you will want to take pattern-matching into consideration when you cut the other piece(s).
Line the fabrics up side by side to match the patterns BEFORE you cut the next piece(s) to length.
Step 3: Staple the fabric.
Line one edge of the fabric up with your level line and start stapling from there.
You know, an extra pair of hands would have been pretty helpful here, but I managed to swing it on my own! I got a few staples in at the top right away, while holding the left side of the fabric straight with the level line.
Once those staples were supporting the weight of the fabric (that vinyl is heavy!), I worked my way DOWN the side of the fabric, again, following the level line. A straight side is the most important starting point – don’t worry about the top or bottom at first.
After you have a straight edge established, do the top edge, pulling the fabric taut as you go.
Next, work your way down the other side, pulling the edge to your level line on that side.
About halfway down, I switched back and forth from side to side, pulling and smoothing as I stapled.
If you have any outlets or light switches in the wall, you will need to carefully cut around them before pulling the fabric tight at the edges.
Remove the wall plate and staple the fabric very carefully around the edge of the hole, then replace the plate over the cut edges and staples:
Finally, smooth the fabric down towards the bottom of the wall and staple.
Step Four: Additional Panels
If your wall is wider than your fabric, now you will add the other panels on either side. Just butt the edges together, and staple just like the first panel – straight edge first, top, side, bottom.
If your pattern doesn’t line up perfectly, that’s okay – we’ll cover those seams up in just a moment!
Step 5: Trim Edges
If you have any overage at the edges of the wall, you can trim with scissors, or use a rotary cutter held against the edge of a ruler. Again – the edges will be covered up, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Step 5: Ribbon + Tacks
By the pricking of my thumbs, let me tell you – I’m so glad this part is done!
Pushing 212 thumb tacks into the wall really makes you question your commitment to a project. But now that it’s finished and I’ve iced my right thumb (yes, really), I wouldn’t change a thing!
The ribbon and brass tack trim hides all the edges and seams in this project – 4 vertical runs, and 2 horizontal runs.
Each vertical piece of ribbon got a quick staple at the top, and then a brass thumb tack approximately every 3 inches to hold it in place.
- Pull the ribbon taut while you’re placing the thumb tack to minimize puckering. There will probably be some puckering anyway, but it does help!
- If you’re having a hard time with the tacks, try a few light taps from a rubber mallet.
- It’s totally fine to fudge the spacing a bit, especially if the wall measurement is not evenly divisible by your tack spacing!
This is the part where I freaked out a little bit, because instead of feeling “vintage brass bound trunk”, I started to worry that the black ribbon + brass studs were feeling a little “50 Shades”… You know?
But once I moved the dresser back into the room, and got to styling, I fell back in love with the effect!
It still feels a little edgy, but I think the worldly vintage accessories helped soften it up and tapped into its jungle and safari vibes!
This huge plaster cheetah was a recent Goodwill find – at $6.99, I literally exclaimed “Seriously?!” when the clerk told me the price! I asked for name recommendations on Instagram and I think I’m going with “Hatshepsut”, or “Hattie” for short.
I pulled all my black, tan, and rust-colored vintage books off the shelf, and added the brass dolphins (a $2 Habitat Restore find) holding a glass chunk paperweight ($2 from Hobby Lobby’s clearance section).
This beautiful sand art (via Uncommon Goods) was a gift from my mom. It’s such a fun piece of interactive art!
And this green glass bowl was a gift from my sweet blogging and real life friend Cassie!
As hesitant as I will be to put holes in this wall, I have big plans for art! I’ve already moved it into the space and I’m so excited to share with you soon once I actually bite the bullet and grab my drill!
Thank you again to Fabric.com for helping me take one more step towards finishing this space!