Low Commitment Walls for Renters:: Starched Fabric

I’ve heard of people starching fabric and hanging it on their walls like wall paper.  supposedly, once you are tired of it, you can easily remove it and the walls are unharmed.  Here are some instructions at Apartment Therapy.

Another idea I found at Curbly is to use graphic bed sheets instead of fabric that only comes in 54 inch widths, sheets are much wider so that could make for less work.

Hate your backsplash? How about covering it with fabric? I have a feeling I’m way too messy for this idea but I appreciate the creativity.

Or you can just cut out a shape and make a starched fabric headboard.

I’m considering doing this just to see how difficult it is.

Have you done a starched fabric project?



  1. I haven’t but I’d really love to see how it turns out. Renting right now and need ideas!

  2. I did attach rectangles of fabric (with botanical prints on them) and made a border in the apartment we were renting many years ago using liquid starch. It was nice to be able to do SOMETHING on the wall. However the paint was cheap (and had been repainted dozens of times) so it did not all come off cleanly when we were moving. It didn’t turn out to be a huge deal, but didn’t work as nicely as I had hoped. I bet on a better prepped wall, it would be much better.

  3. In a rental in college, I cut out bird outlines from black fabric and used starch to attach them to the wall above my couch (well, futon). They stayed up for about a year and a half and came down very easily when I moved out, but I found that the black fabric had left a purple stain on the wall! It could have been caused by the cheap fabric, not being prewashed (it was from my sewing stash so I thought it was, but I might have missed that fabric), the flat paint on the walls, the dark color, leaving it up so long, or the wall getting a lot of direct sunlight. I eventually used bleach pens to reverse the damage and all was well, but it was quite a concern at the time.

  4. I did this a few years ago. I wanted a navy blue bathroom with gold stars and such on it (this was the late 90s, don’t judge….). It went up like a dream and even in a non-vented bathroom stayed remarkably well. The problem came when I took it off. I had used navy blue thin cotton, like for quilting. It left stains on the wall as the PP said. My boyfriend at the time had to repaint the bathroom. HOWEVER, repainting over a lightly stained wall is a hundred times easier than painting over dark paint. I thought about why it might have bled: cheap fabric, I did NOT wash it b/c I did not want to have to iron it smooth, cheap paint. Still, I would do it again!

  5. I used starch to put wide battenburg trim around my windows. It was easy to do, stayed up until I was ready to take it down, and reusable after I washed it. It looked really nice, too and didn’t stain as it was white. Sounds like dark fabrics may be a problem though.

  6. Jennifer Spadaro says

    I saw this on the Nate show a couple months back. I thought it was really interesting but I’d be afraid it could get pretty costly pretty quickly.

  7. An idea that I’d forgotten about, been wanting to change out the back of my bookcase…thanks for reminding me!

  8. I really like this idea!!!

  9. When my daughter was younger, I starched fabric panels of the Disney princesses to her (pink satin-finish) walls. Even with the fabric edges unfinished it looked good. When she outgrew the princess stage, it took about 3 seconds each to peel them off the walls with no damage. Just had to wash the starch off the paint. Try it — it’s fast, cheap, and fun.

  10. This is an old military wives trick. Since back in the day we where not allowed to paint the walls at all this is how we did things. plus there are some bases where you still cant paint. Also my mom fabric my bedroom walls when I was younger and it went on easy and came off easy!

  11. I’ve done this in my daughter’s room, lovely fabric butterflies fluttering across the walls. I’ve already taken them down once (from a high gloss wall) and re-pasted them (flat wall). Didn’t have any problems with removal from the gloss, although I don’t know if the flat paint will give issues or not. I think it’s a particularly great idea for nurseries and kids’ changing tastes. And I love the headboard idea, too!

  12. I might be trying this in my new place, yes that’s right I’m moving;)

  13. Love this idea! Do you know the name of the fabric mentioned in your first pic?…it would look great in my kitchen~!!!

  14. I starched aqua and sunny yellow dots all over all four walls of my sun’s nursery. (Trying to remember if I prewashed — probably not!) It was easy and fun and the result was so bright and cheery. I haven’t taken them down yet, but I suspect we’re going to have a problem with shiny spots on the cheap, flat paint when I do. And the paint is so cheap that any attempt to wipe them leaves marks. Oh well…

  15. Hi! I am so glad I found your site! I will be renting again after owning our own home for 3 years. To be honest, I’m a little depressed knowing the new constraints I’ll be facing decorating-wise. I’ll be closely following Content to Rent for inspiration!

    Thank you,
    P.S. I’d be tickled if you came over and said hey in my neck of the woods, myclevernest.com. <3

  16. Any idea how this would go on cinder block? I’m sure the texture would show through, but I’m willing to try ANYTHING at my place.

  17. Any thoughts to which starch to use? One that’s not harmful to a wall. Since I live in an apartment.

    Is the spray starch for fabrics okay?


  18. Tried this this weekend with a beautiful dark patterned upholstery fabric. Used cornstarch. Now there is a white haze all over the beautiful fabric that wont come off with a damp towel. Any suggestions?

  19. You are a very clever person!

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