Guest Author - Donna Coogan
A fabulous way to decorate your floors on a budget is to create a floorcloth. Floorcloths date back to colonial days when women couldnít afford rugs so they bought inexpensive sailorís cloth and painted it in varying colors and designs.
Floorcloths remain a popular and inexpensive way to decorate interior floors today. They are very versatile and can be used in any interior room. They make a beautiful greeting in a foyer entrance, are lovely under a dining table and look great on covered patios and porches, too.
Floor canvas is typically the painting surface and can be found at arts & crafts stores or ordered online. The more dense canvas will hold up better in the long run. Shop around for the best prices. But, a very cheap way to create this wonderful art form and keep most of your money in your pocket is painting right on the back of a vinyl floor remnant.
If you donít already have vinyl lying around, seek out hardware and flooring stores for scrap sizes. These are usually marked way down, and are perfect for your purposes. Donít worry about what the design looks like Ė no one will ever see that, as it will be the side touching the floor. You are going to paint on the back which will be facing up.
Next, you will need primer, paint, brushes, stencils and sponges Ė whatever you choose to create your design. Water-based paints like latex or acrylics are the easiest to work with, because they only require soap and water clean up.
Consider sketching your design out first on a piece of paper with crayons, colored pencils or markers to get a feel for colors and patterns. You can be as simple or as intricate as you want in the design. You might even try something whimsical and free flowing like geometric shapes scattered across a field of black or flowers and butterflies dotted across pale blue.
Blocked on an idea? Study the pictures in magazines and books on any topic Ė fashion, home decorating, nature, childrenís stories, and so on. When you are walking through stores, notice the patterns and colors in clothing, carpeting, fabrics, painted dishes, posters, and more. Pay attention to flowers, sunsets, animals or even the food on your plate. Your inspiration can come from anywhere.
Donít be concerned if you donít draw well. A simpler design is oftentimes more appealing and versatile than a more involved look. Have fun creating and donít judge your work until youíve lived with the final product a few weeks. Anything can be repainted. If this is still a concern, you can opt for stencils and sponge shapes, too.
For decorative purposes, the colors you choose should complement the colors in the room where your floorcloth will be placed. You can incorporate the patterns from your drapes, pull in accent colors or introduce a whole new complimentary hue.
When you are ready to begin, prime the back of the vinyl with a good primer or coat of Gesso. Lightly draw your design on the surface. If you know what colors you are painting, it helps to use matching pencils for sketching.
Paint the background colors first. You can try sponge painting, spattering, crackling or any painting technique you like. Have fun with it! Then fill in with the designs on top. Lastly seal with several coats of a clear, non-yellowing varnish and let cure (dry & harden) for a week or two. Sealer will allow your floorcloth to be walked on for many years, requiring only a touch-up coat if necessary.
When you lay out your floorcloth, make sure it is over a hard surface and not carpeting or it could crack. For safety, use a non-slip pad to avoid slippage. If it is to go under a table, itís best to use furniture protectors under table legs to help avoid long-term impressions.
Besides being beautiful and easy to create, floorcloths are readily maintained. Sweep it like any other hard surface and wipe spills with soap and a damp cloth. If you ever decide to store your floorcloth, never fold it. Always roll it with the design facing inward.
Overall, creating your own floorcloth will add a charming touch to your home without stretching your budget.