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I spent a lot of time looking at choices for new floor covering for Miss Trilly–too much time. As part of the search, I sent for carpet tile samples from Flor.com. One of them was the perfect color–Porpoise–a soft taupe brown. We calculated how many 19.7″-square tiles we’d need to install. It was immediately obvious to us that we could not justify spending $300 for such a small area, no matter how nice it was. We continued to brainstorm for few more days. Nothing we researched seemed affordable, the right color, or the right look. As mentioned, we didn’t want to glue or tape anything down to the gelcoat and whatever we chose had to “work” with the design. Aesthetics are as important to us as function.

At a local carpet warehouse, I found a lovely commercial carpet remnant with a low, textured loop. It was, in fact, gorgeous. The piece was 12′ x 15′. We needed only 48 inches of it, but the owner declined to cut the remnant. Disappointed because I was truly hoping that I’d solved the dilemma, my head went back to working on a less expensive solution for covering the floor.

At dinner that evening, the answer came to me. I had been a commercial studio photographer for many years and I had always painted my own backdrops. Though I retired back in 2003, I still had all the canvas backgrounds and custom paper drops I’d created over the years. I knew there was one on very heavyweight canvas that was at least six feet wide. We pulled it down from on top of our kitchen cabinets where it was rolled up and laid it on out the bed. Measuring, we found it was just long enough to make into a custom floor cloth!

While it seemed a shame to paint over the very attractive background, I was already envisioning what the new floor cloth would look like. It would be good to put the canvas to a new use that we would enjoy looking at when traveling with Miss Trilly. Days earlier, I had selected some paint colors that coordinated with our fabrics. All I needed to do was buy the paint and get to work.

Next day, I drove to Home Depot and had the “paint master” mix sample pots of two colors, with an additional color that matches the gelcoat for use later on. She color-matched my swatches of Glidden GLN29 “Soft Suede” and Valspar ar721 “Liberty Bell”. These are the only two colors I used to create the floor cloth. The total cost of the paint was about $6. The canvas was free, given to me by an artist friend decades ago, painted and used by me as a photo backdrop, now to become part of Miss Trilly‘s interior makeover. My friend was pleased to learn that we will enjoy her gift for many more years.

Taking a deep breath, I plunged into the project. Over a few days’ time, I layered up the paint colors. First, I brushed on a thinned base coat with the darker shade and let it dry overnight. Next, I used a 4-inch brush to apply broad strokes with the lighter shade, mixed with the darker paint to tone it. Dry brushing a bit over these shapes gave them a more random look. I splattered on some paint and drew some quick curving lines with the darker shade to add even more randomness. We all felt the “rug” was looking pretty good at this point and could have left it there, but I wanted to take it a step further.

Stepping back to contemplate the design, I decided to repeat the leaf design from the Barrow fabric we are using. I began by drawing a freehand version of one of the clusters onto heavy building paper and cutting a stencil. I began by stenciling the leaves in the darker shade, alternating the direction of the cluster. After an overnight period to dry, I layered on a stencil of the lighter shade, also toned down, dry brushed a bit for texture. The finale was a another splattering of the lighter shade.

Today, I am coating the painted floor cloth with Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane, matte finish. I took a photo of the finished cloth with the fabrics that inspired the colors and design. We are very excited and can hardly wait to see it in place inside Miss Trilly! We will have to be patient. The trailer is very high off the ground, up on jackstands and wooden beams. Her trailer has been rolled out from under her. Clark cut off the old axle and has cleaned up the trailer, which is in very good shape considering its age. The welder will come on Monday to install the new Dexter axle. I must wait until the trailer is back on her frame to get inside and fit the new cloth to the floor. Once it is cut to shape, I will be gluing on a felt backing and folding back a hem to finish the edges. Meanwhile, I will be working on sewing the new upholstery for the back cushions.

The interior fabrics and floor cloth for Miss Trilly

Floor_FabricsHappy travels,
9ah and Clark