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Leopard print fabric — used as a wall covering

Remember how I was all psyched about using a leopard print rug in my Mahalo Lounge? Well, it turns out that Denise had a roll of 20 yards of leopard print fabric — it’s a micro-suede — that she had picked up a few years ago at a nearby fabric outlet. She paid just $3 a yard. Last time she was here to paint, she brought it along for me to ponder. Could I turn it into a rug? Nahhhh…. Let’s use it as wallpaper! Yowza: It looks fantastic — it feels like flocked wallpaper! — and it is going up like a DREAM — so easily, with a staple gun, kapow kaboom! 

I am still in “sneak peek” mode as my Lounge comes together. So here’s just a snippet of how the wall covering looks, next to the faux bois-painted woodwork and the barkcloth pinch pleats and behind my Green Lady print by Vladimir Tretchikoff. Oh. Yes! I have my own Green Lady now!

Denise and I bartered for her fabric. I gave her a frame and a bunch of broken vintage jewelry to make more jewelry art. She gave me the $60 fabric. Yes, just $60 to cover all the walls above my dados! I think that’s a fabulous deal! And proof yet again: If you are patient and true, The Retro Decorating Gods will send you what you need when you need it. Even if it’s wall covering when you were thinking rug!

As I mentioned above, this is a microfiber print. I think it might also be called micro-suede. It is light-medium weight and has a very smooth velvety finish. It lays very flat very easily. It’s like a stiff thin velvet — I repeat, like awesome flocked wallpaper! — and amazingly easy to work with. The direction of the print is totally forgiving. So, I don’t have to be plumb- or edge-matchy careful when affixing it. I literally just fold the fabric at the top, staple at the center, then start smoothing and stapling in all the directions to ensure a smooth, flat fit on the wall. When I need to match it to another piece, I just fold and staple. The staples recede visually into the fabric.

I can’t find it, but on one of my stories about my draperies, a reader commented that I would need to use a lot of black in the room to really pick up the field color, black. Her (I think it was a her) comment stuck in mind, and this was another reason I gravitated toward the leopard print fabric on the wall. I also think a darker print on the wall works better with the dark woodwork than my ivory-colored grasscloth. And, cocktail lounges and tiki bars are supposed to be dark and mysterious. Note, though, that I can take the fabric down at any time and the grasscloth is still there. The staples should not hurt the grasscloth.

The combo of the dark-painted woodwork and the wall coverings for sure diminish the LRV of the room dramatically. Dear Husband like LIGHT, so, so far he is exhibiting patience rather than excitement with this particular decorating turn of events. In return, I have committed to him to add lighting that will effectively brighten the room when that’s the goal. Of course, lighting for cocktail effect — including drama — is going to be super important, too. In fact, the lighting part of the project is going to be the most nerve-wracking part of this entire project, I think. 

Categoriestiki and bars
  1. ineffablespace says:

    I bet you’re glad you went with green upholstery for the sofa…I am not sure the leopard on the vertical would have played well with the orange contender.

  2. denise says:

    Debbie, when Pam was first experimenting with it, she sent me a photo of the wall she was trying it on…that was my reaction! I was willing to give up the fabric because at my house yellow tones popped out and I couldn’t commit to reupholstering my vintage sofa with it. In the Mahalo Lounge, it instantly feels right.

  3. denise says:

    Re: petting walls…. guilty. It couldn’t be helped. 🙂
    (I used the hand that didn’t have the paintbrush in it.)

  4. G Ward says:

    I did this in the living room of our last home. The plaster was damaged, so I just stapled cardboard over the damaged area, stapled a thin layer of quilt batting on the walls and then velvet leopard print! A weekly vacuum kept it clean and I didn’t have to paint in the 22 years we lived there!

  5. leslie l says:

    That looks so beautiful! I’ve seen faux suede fabric used in decorator show houses here in the Midwest back in the 90s; yours is even more gorgeous than those that were done by professionals. What a great find, and a great friend. 🙂
    Can hardly wait to see this complete!

  6. Markie Crossman-Dixon says:

    Love it! Isn’t it so satisfying to play with something until we find just the perfect use for it? that looks awesome.

  7. Marie Gamalski says:

    Pam, you are correct about patience… as it turns out, YOU were my decorating goddess… after searching for YEARS, and becoming super frustrated I found Joybird on your site and …. voilà… those lovely folks made us the PERFECT sofa…. makes me smile every time I see it, and it’s even better to sit on!????????

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