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posted: 5/4/2013 4:00 AM

Do-it-yourself wallpaper, fabric now popular in the home

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  • Shop owner J Frank, left, and Sarah Rowland with the wallpaper she designed for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va. Owners Betsy Thomas and J Frank asked Rowland to design a custom wallpaper for an accent wall at the shop, located in the trendy Carytown section of town.

      Shop owner J Frank, left, and Sarah Rowland with the wallpaper she designed for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va. Owners Betsy Thomas and J Frank asked Rowland to design a custom wallpaper for an accent wall at the shop, located in the trendy Carytown section of town.
    Courtesy of Jay Paul

  • Sarah Rowland designs custom wallpapers, including this one for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va.

      Sarah Rowland designs custom wallpapers, including this one for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va.
    Courtesy of Jay Paul

  • Custom wallpaper Sarah Rowland designed for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va.

      Custom wallpaper Sarah Rowland designed for Dixie Donuts in Richmond, Va.
    Courtesy of Jay Paul

  • Renee Pedro made theses custom tea towels for her home in Philadelphia. Pedro has started a business making household goods with fabrics she designs.

      Renee Pedro made theses custom tea towels for her home in Philadelphia. Pedro has started a business making household goods with fabrics she designs.
    Courtesy of Crash Pad Designs

 
By Melissa Dutton
Associated Press

When Renee Pedro bought a house with midcentury décor, she decided to embrace the look.

Drawing inspiration from the 1963 Philco oven in her kitchen, she began hunting for towels and table linens with a mod '60s vibe to complement the appliance.

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"That oven was my style. My thing," said Pedro, of Philadelphia.

She was disappointed by the lack of choices, and in 2009 began looking for a way to create her own textiles to decorate the kitchen. "I couldn't find something that fit my aesthetic, so I decided to make it," she said.

After a year of looking online, she found a company that would allow her to design her own fabric. Now she runs her own online business, Crashpaddesigns.com, selling tea towels, pillow cases and table linens in mod, bright, geometric or flowered patterns that she designs herself.

Many companies have begun to offer consumers the chance to create custom fabrics and wallpapers. Advances in printing have made it more affordable to create small runs, and to make high-quality products faster and cheaper, said Aaron Kirsch, president of Astek Wallcovering Inc. in Van Nuys, Calif.

He sells directly to customers via his company's website, Designyourwall.com. The company also makes custom products for the fashion, hospitality and motion picture industries. Demand for the custom products has been steadily rising, Kirsch said.

"Custom wall covering … has gone ballistic," he said.

Homeowners can create their own wall covering for about $6.50 a square foot, he said.

Custom fabrics run about $18 to $30 a yard, said Rysa Pitner, founder of Fabric on Demand in Los Angeles.

Custom options appeal to "individuals who love to author their own stuff," she said.

You can upload photos, original artwork or computer-generated designs on her company's website, Fabricondemand.com.

Some manufacturers have designers who help customers develop the look they want. Do-it-yourself designers can usually preview the order online or order a sample piece. It normally takes less than a month for orders to be processed. The websites also have a wide variety of pre-made patterns available.

Nile Johnson of Nile Johnson Interior Design in Kennett Square, Pa., said custom pieces help his firm accomplish its goal of creating spaces that reflect a client's personality.

"It really helps the interior show and breathe who they are," he said. "It's not just pretty. It's not just functional. It really tells their story."

Johnson has used the custom printing process to create a window shade depicting a child's favorite story book. He is now creating wallpaper that corresponds to a client's checkered dishes.

Creating rolls of wallpaper for an accent wall or producing yards of fabric to make curtains, bedding or furniture covering allows homeowners to create layers of design that contribute to the look they are after, added Los Angeles designer Kate Albrecht, who runs the website Mrkate.com.

"It's a layered look where they feel like each little element of a room speaks about their personality," she said.

"As a designer, you have this idea for a perfect fabric in your mind and sometimes you can't find it. Sometimes that fabric needs to be created."

Online resources

• www.crashpaddesigns.com

• www.designyourwall.com

• www.fabricondemand.com

• www.nilejohnson.com

• www.mrkate.com

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