Monday, February 28, 2011

Fan Flair - A DIY Project

I have just finished a project to brighten up and unify my China Closet.  It was easy, cheap and effective. And, it can be easily modified if I change my mind in the future.  The cabinet is now a collection of visual compositions melding the shape and beauty of my dishes with folded fans in a satin and matt stripe.

The Story:

It all started several Christmases ago.  The glass shelves in my china cabinet came crashing down right before I hosted a dinner for 18. I lost some dishes but luckily most were saved because they were on the table set for dinner. As a result my cabinet was under-shelved and most of the dishes were stacked on the bottom.

Not only was it inefficient but it was also unattractive. I have some beautiful handmade pottery with delicious glazes and none could be seen.

I'd been searching for a place to have new glass shelves cut and finally asked at the local, "has everything" hardware store, Mansfield Supply. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier but they had them ready for me by the end of the day. This allowed me to spread out the dishes but I was still disappointed. The cabinet has no lighting and the back wall is cherry. It needed to be lighter and brighter but I wasn't going to paint the beautiful cherry.  

I considered several solutions including stretching fabric or paper. I purchased a roll of brightly colored wrapping paper to experiment with different effects. From the experimenting I learned that I wanted cherry to still be visible and that the bright colors were too strong. At some point a folded fan nestled into the corner was tested and I knew I was on the right track. I tried some with the blue and green apple stripe paper and the effect was too strong so I made another with plain white copier paper. David (my husband and top consultant) came home for dinner and weighed in on the elegance of white.  Typing paper was too thick so I purchased another roll of wrapping paper but this one was wedding paper, alternating satin and matt white stripes. Hallmark wrapping paper had an additional benefit in that it has a 1" grid printed on the back side. It was helpful in straight cutting and folding.

I started making fans in different sizes and playing with arrangements. At this point both Karen and Amy (our daughters) were home for a family weekend and additional design advice helped me finalize on random fan and circle shapes artfully arranged on the back panel. They also helped with folding!

My total investment was $7.98.  Each roll of wrapping paper cost $3.99.  The final result is nearly impossible to photograph but I am very pleased. And, the solution is flexible. I can change it with little effort or cost!

Up close the glazes shine and the fans add a decidedly oriental theme to the closet.

Here is some DIY Information:


1 roll Hallmark wrapping paper - 22 1/2 sq. feet
Assorted double stick tape/dots/lines


  • Cut 1 strip of wrapping paper for each fan. 
  • I made a variety 3.5 - 9.5 inches wide and 30"-36" in length.
  • Fold each strip in a back and forth fan fold.
  • All folds are 1/2" and although I tried to keep things even, absolute precision was not required.  It looked even even though it wasn't.

  • Add a row of double stick tape to each of the ends.  
  • I tried different types but found I liked the scrap-booking adhesive splits that had individual pull tabs. The fans shapes had a life of their own and would snake around and stick to themselves. I used Frosted Splits by Creative Memories. 
  • Using the covered tabs allowed me to stick one half in place, then peel the backs off the other half, position it, and stick that in place as well.

  • On those fans which hang upside down I also added a double stick piece of tape behind them right at the center to keep them from drooping.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

1 comment:

  1. This is so clever and beautiful! And a refreshing alternative to the "paint everything wood" movement that seems to be in swing right now.