carlyn yandle for metro vancouver


Homemade idea boards add a colour block to any décor even when they’re not in use.

While many Vancouverites are wondering where the summer went, I’m looking forward to falling back into a routine as I join thousands of other urban dwellers heading back to school.

I know my physical surroundings can make or break the focus I need this fall. It’s why I’ve often threatened to cover an entire wall in cork as sort of a top-of-mind, work-in-progress place for all those sketches, ideas ripped from magazines and material samples that otherwise pile up on surfaces.

I’m not quite ready to take that plunge, but I’ve managed a good compromise: a series of décor-boosting padded, fabric-covered idea boards.

This simple, inexpensive back-to-school project is perfect for those of us who have had to put any decorating plans behind plans to pay for tuition and books.

  • Start by buying one or two large, inexpensive stretched canvases at Opus on Granville Island or Loomis art store on Main or Broadway near Granville. If you’re really committed to recycling (or strapped) pick up an old painted canvas at a thrift store.

  • Choose a piece of fabric that adds a hit of colour, texture or design to your surroundings, about four inches wider and taller than your frame.

Dressew (no credit cards) on Hastings and Textile Clearance House on Fraser are great sources for discount fabrics.

While you’re there, grab some cheap poly batting or very thin foam about the same size.

Match up your fabric with some ribbon or hemp string — something strong and not bulky — making sure you have enough to cross your frame at least six times.

  • Lay the batting down on the frame, trace and trim. Tack the batting across the canvas front with any kind of glue (I like 3M Super 77 spray adhesive).

  • Follow up with a layer of fabric, but instead of using glue, staple it to the back of the frame, starting at the middle of one side, then the middle of the opposite side, stretching the fabric taut as you go.

  • Finally, wrap a section of ribbon or string tightly across the frame, securing at the back with staples or thumbtacks.

Repeat at intervals, either perpendicularly or diagonally from the corners. I add a shot from my glue gun between the layers of ribbon at the point where they intersect, to better hold bits of paper. Hang by finishing nails or lean on a surface.

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