101diy projectsUpholstery Basics

upholstery basics: wall upholstery, part 2

by Amanda Brown

Thanks for joining me again as we wrap up wall upholstery and enjoy the finished room. If you’re just joining us, be sure to refer to wall upholstery, part 1 before reading on. Last time, we padded, stretched and stapled our walls. Now it’s time to sew, glue and assemble our way to the finish line. So flex your muscles, and let’s get back to it! — Amanda

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • curved needle
  • thread
  • scissors
  • ladder
  • t-pins
  • staple remover
  • pliers
  • white or yellow chalk
  • screw driver
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • regulator

Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.


While upholstering the walls, I noticed that staples were deflecting on the convex (outside corners) of my room and remembered that the metal corner bead was installed when the drywall was put in. To work around this, I’m hand-sewing all of the outside corners shut. Although your room may not have corner bead or even convex corners, you’ll still need to know how to hand-sew to close up the last open corner in your room.

1.  Thread the curved needle and meet the two ends of thread. I’m starting with thread that is a length of 10″ (20″ total) when doubled over.

2. Take the ends of the thread and wind them around your index finger.

3. Push the loop around your finger down with your thumb.

4. Using your thumb and your middle finger, slide the loop down until it knots up.

5. Once you have a knot in the end of your thread, trim off the excess without trimming your knot.

6. Stretch and smooth out the fabric toward the loose side, fold the fabric under the Dacron and secure it in place with t-pins.

7. Starting at the closest staple next to the loose edge, insert the curved needle through the back side of the fabric.

8. Pull the thread through; then insert the needle next to where the thread just came out. As you insert the needle this time, go through all layers of fabric, including the lowest layer of fabric stapled from the adjacent wall. Pull the thread through about 1/2″ beyond where you inserted the needle.

9. Insert the needle right next to where we started in the last step. This time, we’ll pull the thread through 1/2″ beyond where we came out in step 8. Continue to pull the thread tightly as you go.

10. Repeat step 9, advancing in 1/2″ increments every time, until the thread pulls out at the corner. Follow steps 14–24 to tie a knot and secure the fabric at the top corner.

11. Repeat steps 1–5, except make your thread about 36″ long when doubled.

12. Place your needle behind the fabric and pull the thread out at the top corner. Insert the needle into the fabric from the adjacent wall right next to where you pulled out the thread. Pull the thread out 1/2″ or less below.

13. Repeat step 12, going back to the loose side of fabric. Continue going back and forth, cinching up the thread as you go, until you have about 4″ of thread remaining.

14. When you have only 4″ of thread, pinch off a small piece of fabric opposite from where the thread just came out.

15. As you pull the thread through, make a loop and bring the curved needle through the center of the loop.

16. Before you pull the loop taut, make sure you’ve cinched up all the sewing above. You can keep the stitches tight by holding the fabric together with your hand.

17. Pull out the slack in the loop to make a knot.

18. Repeat steps 14, 15 and 17 to make another knot in the same place for extra security.

19. Cut the thread right next to the eye of the needle.

20. Tie two knots in the thread.

21. Thread the ends through the needle.

22. Insert the needle behind the fabric right next to the knots.

23. Pull the threads out a few inches away in the middle of the fabric.

24. Cut off the thread as close to the fabric as possible without cutting the fabric. If you have a bit of thread sticking out of the fabric, rub your fingernail over the fabric until the threads go back into the fabric.

25. When you start a new piece of thread, start about an inch above where you ended. Repeat steps 11–24 until you reach the bottom.

If this is your last corner, you may proceed! Otherwise, keep sewing until all your corners are closed. This part takes some time (about an hour for each corner), so I got all caught up with Downton Abbey while I was working.

26. Find an electric outlet or switch and make a chalk mark at all four corners. Draw an “X” to connect the corners.

27. Cut on the chalk line, being careful not to stick the scissors into the socket. Consider turning the power off to your sockets while doing this.

28. Fold the fabric flaps behind the fabric, exposing the socket or switch.

29. Screw on your face plate.

30. Repeat steps 26–29 for the remaining switches and plugs.

31. Assemble any wall-mounted fixtures such as drapery rods and sconces. Sockets, switches and fixtures should be easy to find, since we cleared away Dacron from these items in part 1 (steps 9–10).

32. Follow steps 15–22 on picture-perfect backs to make double welt cord and glue it over the exposed staples. Most of you already had baseboards and trim installed in your room, so you’ll be attaching double welt cord next to the ceiling or crown molding, around trim on doors and windows and next to baseboards where you stapled the fabric.

33. If you are installing baseboards or trim after wall upholstery, now’s the time because we are finished!

Wall Upholstery Tips and Tricks

  • Windows and doors are easy to upholster around. Stretch and staple the fabric across the top and sides of the wall; then staple next to the trim on the windows and doors. Smooth out any excess fabric to the bottom and staple. Cut off the excess fabric with a utility knife to expose the windows and doors.
  • If you accidentally scuff paint on your ceilings and/or baseboards, touch-up the paint before gluing the double welt cord.

I’m so pleased with my shimmery boudoir and can’t believe the difference it makes in sound absorption! Check out the resources below for information on the fabrics and flooring used in the room. All fabrics are available at Spruce.

Wall fabric: Norbar’s Monty in Silver

Headboard fabric: Jim Thompson’s Baxan in Carnival

Lampshade fabric: Kravet’s 32187, color 1

Flooring: EcoFusion’s Woven Poplar in Desert Canyon, available at Treehouse

Dying for more upholstery? Check out other projects on Upholstery Basics!

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  • Oh my god, so much double cording… just sewing that is so frustrating and time consuming! I can’t even imagine how much a whole room took!

  • I’m a little worried about someone undertaking this who has to be shown how to knot thread. It is pretty though, and you almost have me at the words “sound absorption.”

  • ‘sound absorption’ – a whole generation of sleep deprived mothers will be pinning this haha!

  • I’m betting it looks even more stunning in person than it does in these shots. Beautful work, as always. How long does a project like this take for someone with a bit of experience?

  • Is this the last post of the series? I was hoping to see an “after” photo of the whole room. Thanks!

  • A HUGE congrats on this project. It had to have required the most incredible amount of patience and fortitude, but, what an amazing result! I think I would have had to have done the happy dance for hours celebrating such a lovely transformation! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

  • this gives a modern twist to “the padded room “, tho’ I would probably be dippy by the time I finished it ! Terrific idea and well executed !

  • This is beautiful, no doubt. But what a nightmare! How do you clean it? All I can think of is what it would look like after a week in a house with kids and dogs.

  • Hi all!
    The mirrored side tables were purchased from Z Gallerie a few years ago, but it doesn’t appear they carry them any more. Horchow has a slew of mirrored side tables, including ones almost identical to mine, so check them out!

    Martha, a standard room with four walls would probably take you three or four days with a bit of experience. This room was quite a task, but I also had eleven individual walls to upholster!

    Laura, the fabric and padding are not combustible and would be very unlikely to catch fire unless from human negligence. Wall upholstery poses the same (if not fewer) concerns than upholstered furniture and draperies, so consider the same factors when choosing fabric and placement.

    Jen, wall upholstery can be cleaned just like you’d clean your sofa: vacuuming, spot cleaning, steam cleaning. If you like the look of the wall upholstery but are concerned about cleaning, you could always do a wainscoting on the bottom half and upholstery on the top, or choose a fabric with stain resistance built-in.

    Betsey Gail, this is the last post of the series, and I need a bit more time to finesse the rest of the room before a big reveal. Feel free to shoot me an email, and I’ll let you know when the photos go up.

  • A fantastic tutorial, especially for people who haven’t done this before. Now to just find the right fabrics that inspire me to try this on my furniture. Thanks for sharing!

  • beautiful. could you have picked a prettier fabric? i think not. i would upholster myself in that fabric. just delicious.
    fabulous job.

  • I moved into a house where one room was upholstered above the chair rail and includes the use of a thin batting layer underneath. I’m not sure how many years it’s been up, but someone paid a lot of money to have it done. Although the fabric used is not my personal style, it IS attractive. There are some subtle stain marks (possibly where previous owner attempted spot cleaning.). Just for sanitary reasons, I’d like to clean the walls. What would be the most effective method and what equipment would I need to buy?

  • Hi there – I am interested in doing an upholstered wall in a fabric that has a muslin look. Could I use muslin or is it too light of a material? Did you use a heavy upholstery grade for your walls?

  • I am so glad I found your post. I am thinking of doing a huge upholstered headboard, nothing fancy though, but your post really gave me an idea on how to make the stitches and so on. Thanks!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I moved into a home where our bedroom is all upholstered. I’m unsure when it was installed but the previous owners painted over it with a hidious purple color! Walls, trim, and ceiling ?!!! Anyway, I want to keep with the upholstered walls due to us being so close to a train tack. I really feel it helps, and probably the reason it was installed to begin with. My question is how would removal be done? Would I be able to just remove the fabric and relapse or do I need to replace everything?

  • Can you use denim to upholstery a wall or is there is there a particular type of fabric required?