Fabrics have been used to beautify the walls of stately residences and commercial spaces since the early 18th century. European craftsmen developed a number of techniques to upholster walls that essentially involved stretching the fabric over batons positioned across a wall’s surface, providing a luxurious visual aesthetic, fantastic insulation and great acoustics in any given space.

Using woven fabrics for walling is a favourite application of ours at Gainsborough. With the re-decoration of our entrance hall currently underway, we decided to upholster the walls with one of our archive favourites, the Sudbury Brocatelle, a stunning silk design originally woven in 1926 by Gainsborough’s founder, Reginald Warner. The fabric’s sophisticated burnt orange and gold colour was adapted from another archive fabric Warner designed even earlier in the 20th century, entitled The Small Chatsworth Bologna.

We thought we would share the steps we took to transform our entrance hall using a well-loved century-old design into a sophisticated and opulent reception space.

STEP 1   Position and secure wooden batons the height of the wall at intermittent intervals, as well as around the door frames and along the skirting and cornicing.

STEP 2   Source fabric (from Gainsborough of course!) to cover the entire surface area of the walls, making allowance for the pattern repeat.

STEP 3   Seam together fabric with the pattern repeat matching (as with wallpaper) to the height and overall width of the walls.

STEP 4   Staple the fabric to the wood batons, starting from one corner and making your way around in the same direction, ensuring that the pattern repeat begins at the same place on each wall.  Ensure the fabric is as tightly stretched as possible to avoid sagging.

STEP 5   Cut/trim the fabric to fit the wall.

STEP 6   Cover the ugly staples and rough edges by gluing a ribbon or cord around the door frames, skirting and cornicing, making certain that no glue stains will permeate or bleed onto the fabric or ribbon.