Add a Designer Touch with a DIY Burlap Border

By Carla Jordan

Laura Brewer,

 Laura Brewer,


Burlap is a classic fabric that designers love.  It's an affordable way to add texture and a hint of color. Burlap’s also easy to transform whether you’re using it to make window coverings, a rustic table runner or to do something less expected...create architectural interest on walls.  I recently caught up with artist Laura Brewer (owner of Studio Primrose and an Olde Century Colors dealer) who showed me how to create custom wallpaper border with burlap ribbon, a stencil and Olde Century Colors simulated milk paint.


"This wallpaper border is such fun to make because you can tailor it to your favorite pattern and colors," says Laura."  I chose an architectural-inspired stencil and paint hues that are somewhat subtle.  Olde Century Colors simulated milk paints are good picks for a project like this because they’re so saturated that projects are completed faster and with fewer coats.


This border would look terrific just about anywhere in your home but, especially in areas where you want to add a bit of wow. You can also install this board at different wall heights—up next to the ceiling, at chair rail height or floated somewhere in between.


Here's how Laura made her burlap border and you can, too.


Materials List:

Olde Century Colors Carriage Black #3014 simulated milk paint

Olde Century Colors Sugar House Brown #3006 simulated milk paint

Burlap ribbon or fabric

¾” stencil brush


Painters tape

Repositionable stencil adhesive


Staple gun and staples

Nails for molding

Hammer or nail gun


Contact paper (optional)

220 and 320 grit sandpaper



Burlap border:



Laura Brewer,


•Lay out and tape down burlap fabric or ribbon (Laura used 6” wide ribbon) onto working surface. (Note--you can also attach Contact Paper® to the back of the fabric to give it more stability.

Laura Brewer,


•Spray back of stencil with repositionable stencil adhesive. Press onto fabric from center to each end, working bubble out so that stencil lies flat and secure on fabric.


Laura Brewer,


•Dip brush lightly into Olde Centurs Colors Carriage Black #3014 simulated milk paint (don't overload your brush or paint will bleed under the stencil cutout). 


Laura Brewer,


To work the paint into stencil cutouts, pounce and very lightly swirl brush onto the stencil cutout areas, being careful not to push the paint under the stencil.


•Let paint dry thoroughly, then remove stencil from fabric.


Laura Brewer,


•Use a level to draw a line on the wall to serve as a guide for attaching the burlap (you want to install it straight!).


Laura Brewer,


•Attach burlap to wall with staple gun.


Painted Molding:


•Paint molding with Olde Century Colors Carriage Black #3014 simulated milk paint.  Allow to dry.


•Rub candle wax along edges of wood where you want to create “distressing” effect.


•Paint molding with Olde Century Colors Sugar House Brown #3006 simulated milk paint.  Allow to dry.


•Using 320 grit sandpaper, very lightly sand along edges to remove some Sugar House Brown #3006 and reveal some of the Olde Carriage Black #3014 simulated milk paint underneath.


•Using a level to keep a straight line, nail molding to the wall.


•Fill nail holes with wood filler and touch up carefully with paint as needed.


Laura Brewer,


•Attach molding pieces above and below the burlap.


Laura Brewer,


Note--Laura's molding pieces on the bottom edge are re-purposed pieces that were pre-drilled for pegs that she plans to hang frames and small painted chairs for display.



Laura Brewer,


How charming is this?!



•Because of the open weave of the burlap, protect your work surface. Laura taped the burlap to a piece of cardboard to keep the fabric in place and protect the surface at the same time.


• The key to preventing paint from bleeding under the stencil cutout is to always “off load” the brush of excess paint.  Swirling the stencil brush on a piece of paper towel before applying the paint to your surface.  It;s always better to have too little, than too much, paint on your brush. You can always add layers to build up your color or adjust the amount of paint as you get more comfortable working on the fabric. You cannot take the excess paint away.









About the Author

Carla Jordan is a nationally published design, cooking/entertaining and lifestyle writer.  Her work can be found in well-regarded magazines and newspapers; as well as online.  She resides in a Dallas-area home of many colors because she can't resist painting this, that and everything.