An ugly or overly worn floor can make any room look unappealing during the holidays. But you don’t have to spend time refinishing or replacing those floors before guests come (save that job until later). Instead, make a holiday floorcloth that will keep eyes from noticing old floors.
Don’t believe you have an artistic bone in your body? This easy project, depending primarily on sea sponges, pre-primed canvas, and paint, should change your mind! Here’s all you have to do:
Step 1: Determine the size of your holiday floorcloth. Did your pet have an “oops!” moment, leaving behind one unsightly stain? If so, you may get by with a small floorcloth, one just large enough to cover evidence of an accident. But if most of the floor is unappealing, you’ll probably want a larger size to keep your guests’ eyes focused on the floorcloth – not the floor.
Step 2: Gather your materials. You’ll be able to get most of them at the nearest arts or crafts store. Be sure to get pre-primed canvas suitable for a floorcloth (ask the sales staff if you’re unsure if the canvas is primed or not). You’ll also need quick drying paint. I prefer acrylic purchased at an art supply store but any extra water-based interior or exterior paint you have on hand can be used as well. Also grab some sea sponges from the arts or crafts store (some bath and bedding stores have them as well). Get a couple of large paint brushes. You’ll use those to apply your base coat of paint to the cloth.
Of course, you’ll want to select paint colors which suit the holiday mood. For Christmas, popular choices are seasonal reds and greens. Silver, gold, and blue are also lovely accents. White paint will serve as your base coat so don’t leave that off your list. You’ll also want to purchase a water-based polyurethane to protect your painted designs. If you have a strong staple gun, you can use that to help finish your floorcloth. If not, you’ll need access to a sewing machine (I used a relative’s machine). Feeling particularly experimental? Grab some gold or silver glitter as you move through the stores. You can sprinkle that on the wet paint to add more shimmer to your designs.
Step 3: Even though the canvas is primed, you’ll need to start off by adding a coat of quick-drying white paint over the surface. Let it dry. Add another coat if any of the canvas shows through. At this point, you’ll need to fold the unhemmed edges inwards. To do this, simply measure 1/2 inch from each edge, mark the points with a pencil and fold inwards. I usually eyeball my floorcloth rather than making sure every side is completely squared off because I like the homemade and slightly imperfect look. And…confession time…I don’t even measure the edges before turning them under. But if you want precise edges, you’ll want to measure each side as you go. Once you’ve folded in the unhemmed sides evenly, you can staple or sew them in place.
Step 4: You’re ready to start decorating your floorcloth. Feel nervous? Practice on some newspaper or cardboard first. Lightly dip one sponge in your first paint color and the other in another color. If you’ve chosen only two colors, perhaps red and green, play around with different amounts of paint, even overlapping the colors to see how that works. Of course, sea sponges aren’t going to magically transform into snowmen or reindeer. But by using seasonal colors, you’ll evoke the spirit of the season. Since you’ll be creating an abstract work, try not to get too concerned with having each dab of paint the exact same distance from the next dab. Go for a random effect. You should be pleasantly surprised by the results. This project is also perfect for the kids to try.
Of course, if you suddenly feel compelled to add a snowman or two, that is easily accomplished. Simply sketch it lightly on the canvas with a pencil and use a small brush to fill in the design. Sea sponge prints are a gorgeous background for seasonal designs.
Do be sure to: Leave some white in the background and rinse off the sea sponges if they get too coated with paint. Squeeze them gently to get rid of excess moisture and they’ll be ready to use again. Once you’ve found the right blend of color and texture by practicing on cardboard or paper with the sponges, move on to the actual floorcloth. If you bought glitter you can sprinkle it lightly on the paint, just enough to add some additional sparkle. You can also use a small paintbrush to add some curving swirls here and there. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Step 5: Let the paint dry thoroughly. You can use a fan or hair dryer if you are in a hurry. Your final step is to apply at least one coat – and preferably two or three coats – of water-based polyurethane to the holiday floorcloth with a clean, large brush. This will add a nice shine to your finished project and also make it easy to maintain. To be on the safe side, you may want to purchase a rug pad to keep the floorcloth from slipping. Crafts stores also sell backings especially made for rugs. Once you’re done, lay the floorcloth in place and be prepared for admiring comments.