Saturday, January 12, 2013

Painted Canvas Floorcloth

We walk on paintings around here.  There are no pieces of art on our walls yet, but just a simple painting lying across our living room floor, muted, but calling attention at the same time.

I first learned about canvas drop cloth rugs from a Martha Stewart web article.  Since our living room decor budget is $500, and my husband's papasan chair ate half of that budget, we couldn't afford a large area rug for $200 or more.  We decided to paint a customized floor cloth instead.  My husband chose the design idea.  He wanted a black tree on a purple background.  I searched for some "tree" art and decided to base my rug around a lovely abstract tree giclee print by Louise Mead.  This is what I came up with:

1 - 6x9 foot canvas dropcloth $7 (1x6 strip left after cutting and hemming)
1 - Quart Olympic Royal Indigo $6
1 - Quart Olympic Napoleon $6  (Much leftover, originally for kitchen entrance door)
1 - Gallon mistinted deep purple from neighborhood City Mill $13  (Much leftover, unexpected purchase)
1 - Quart Minwax polycrilic $8
Paintbrushes of various sizes, empty plastic cups or jars for mixing shades and hues. Already owned
The amount I paid is based on pricing in Hawai'i. 

I paid $40 to make this living room floor cloth personally painted to reflect our design aesthetic.. :)
The actual price of this rug is difficult to quantify, as I would have to estimate how much paint I used and what percentage of the purchase price it would be.  If anyone is interesting in making a rug like this, my tips for saving money and possibly having your own floor cloth for $20 include:
  • If you have primer, prime it first.- I might not have needed the extra gallon of paint.
  • If you do not have primer, start by buying a gallon of your primary color, instead of a quart.
  • Buy samples of paint if your store offers them.  I didn't use too much of the black or the new gallon for the circles.

I wash, dried, and hemmed one side of the canvas drop cloth.  Then I used the whole quart of paint (perhaps because I did not gesso or prime the canvas), thinned with water to stretch it as I proceeded, to create an "ombre" background.  I left the imperfections and stroke marks, because they would be covered anyway.

Using flat black paint, I followed my inspiration piece and free-handed the trunk and tree branches on the cloth.
I experimented with colors, using leftover blue-gray indigo from the Master Bedroom and the nursery pink.  I mixed shades and tints of purple using these two colors and a new gallon of purple paint as the base.  I tried gradient circles, but it took too long to complete just a few, so I just painted solid circles instead.
The completed painted drop cloth rug or floor cloth has at least 10 different pink and blue tints of the deep purple base color.  I love how it is abstract so it looks like a rug, but it clearly resembles a tree and carries personal meaning for us.
I signed my name using flat black paint going up the tree trunk and called it finished. :)
I sealed the work with 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic.
I still need to paint and seal the back, but I am considering a second design to make the floor cloth reversible.

This floor cloth is a perfect area rug for our lifestyle.  I sweep and mop it like the rest of my floor and it has held up well so far.  I am not worried about my 3 year-old daughter or her parents (including me, haha) spilling food or drinks on a rug.  I love how making this floor cloth has added color and personality to our living room, it defines our seating area, but it protects the floor and is so simple to maintain.

We were blessed to have been led to make this decision, as it is the best rug solution for our family.  :)

Have you made a floor cloth or are you thinking about making one?


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