Many years ago when I designed a room at the Greystone Mansion Design Showcase in Beverly Hills, I upholstered the walls with fabric that I had custom printed with giant photographs of magnolias. The concept of custom printing fabric with digital images was relatively new at the time, but I did an internet search and found a printer in Hollywood that could do it for me. It cost a small fortune — about $250 a yard.
Despite the high cost of photo printing, I was hooked on the customization potential for home décor, and I was soon printing upholstery fabric for chairs and other furniture. Once I personalized a client’s window coverings by printing pictures of his kids on the curtain panels. And when my second book “Flowers that Wow” came out, I even printed images from the book on gabardine so I could make a bespoke suit for the book launch party. It was a look, for sure.
Still, the hefty price tag kept me from taking advantage of the technology for most of my projects. Fast forward to today, however, and custom printing has become so accessible and affordable that it’s transforming the home décor landscape. It all boils down to this: if you can take a photo of something, you can have that photo printed and placed on furniture, accessories and walls — at a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago.
Now, I use custom printing all the time. Here are some examples that I hope will inspire you to personalize your own décor in a uniquely creative way.
As I said, custom fabric used to cost about $250 a yard. Now, thanks to online print-on-demand fabric suppliers like spoonflower.com, you can get it for about $20 to $30 a yard, depending on the fabric. Just send them a JPEG of what you would like printed, and they will have your fabric shipped to you in less than two weeks. They also have an extensive library of designs available if you don’t have your own artwork. Spoonflower offers 24 different textiles, from cotton poplin to velvet, so you can create custom fabric for quilts, pillows, table linens, drapes, blankets, bedding and more.
One of my favorite home décor items to make using custom fabric is pet pillows. I lay out several photos of friends’ and clients’ pets on a yard of fabric (you can fit several photos on one yard), cut around the pictures, and sew life-size pillows depicting our furry friends. They make great gifts, too.
Custom photo wallpaper has been my decorating secret weapon ever since I discovered that the technology was available. And I’ve been using the custom wallpaper not only for walls, but doors and cabinet fronts as well.
My go-to resource is the website muralsyourway.com, which features a library of ready-to-print images, but also allows you to upload your own JPEGs. For the offices of the Jewish Journal, I purchased stock photos depicting vintage journalism, uploaded the JPEGs, and installed the custom murals on the doors and walls. An added bonus is that one of the paper options is self-stick adhesive, so you can easily install it yourself without having to pay a professional paper hanger. The adhesive paper is also removable and reusable, so it’s great for people who live in apartments.
In my own living room shown above, I used custom wallpaper for the soffit, the fireplace and the left wall around the window. Because it was peel and stick, I applied it in a few hours with the help of a very tall ladder. That’s Marie Antoinette on the fireplace, by the way, though art history scholars now say that it could be her sister.
My latest discovery for custom printed home decor is area rugs. I needed a new rug in my entryway because my two dogs have had numerous accidents on the old one. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new rug, but I still wanted to reflect my personal style, especially since the rug is the first thing you see when you enter the front door. So I did some digging online and found a site, canvasdiscount.com, that makes custom areas in two sizes — 20×28 and 35×55, which was the size I needed. I decided to upload a JPEG of a painting I created depicting the Eiffel Tower and the word “Bonjour.” With discounts, the rug was only $55 shipped. And it arrived in less than a week. The site also produces blankets, pillows, towels and canvas prints featuring any image you provide.
My next custom home décor project will be a shower curtain featuring one of my paintings. The only hold-up is I can’t decide what image I want greeting me in the shower every morning. There are several vendors on Amazon who will print these for about $20. Just search “photo shower curtain” to get started.
Jonathan Fong is the author of “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.