How A Paper Fastener Saved My Living Room

How A Paper Fastener Saved My Living Room

If the quality of a hand-woven carpet is estimated by the number of  knots, I guess my area rug can have its share of value since it’s completely embellished by hand!

To make a long story even longer, it was around March 2014,  when I  brought home a plain, light brown, indoor-outdoor area rug from Costco Wholesale.  I had seen quite a few transformations of basic inexpensive rugs with just a DIY painted design, so my initial intention was to stencil it and place it in our formal living room which was in desperate need of a rug.

But a few weeks later and before I started working on it,  I changed my mind and decided that a painted rug would maybe look nice in the family room but it was not what I really wanted for the formal living room. Before I had the chance to take it back to the store, I incidentally  found a couple of brass plated paper fasteners in a desk drawer.  Instantly, I thought of the rug; maybe the fasteners could add a nice detail to it.  I tried to pass them through and I was amazed how easily  the pins could penetrate the rug and how nicely they would sit on its surface. If only I could decide on a cool motif, my rug would be the best, ever!

I found small paper fasteners online and ordered probably as many boxes  as the  State Capitol would have ordered for a year’s worth of office supplies.

For a pattern, I chose a Moroccan tile, one of my favorite designs, which I enlarged on my copy machine, cut around it and placed it on the left upper corner of the rug.  With a Disappearing Ink Marker,  I traced its outline directly on the rug, Then, with the rug on my lap, I used one hand to make a 2 mm incision with a seam ripper and  inserted a fastener, while the other hand was separating the legs of the fastener from underneath the rug.

Shape and Marker - mydearirene

I drew half the shape at a time and that was just enough time to pin the paper fasteners before the ink disappeared.

Inserting Brass Fasteners - mydearirene


Shape and Marker - mydearirene

The first row started and finished fairly easily, as I was enthusiastic and excited about the result while the second one went by a lot slower with long intervals of days, even weeks, where I didn’t find the time to work on the rug.  When I finally got to the third row,  I  realized that it would take me longer than anticipated so I decided to use some of the brass fasteners  on another project that would be much more fun. That’s where my inspiration for the  DIY Canvas Wall Art With Brass Monogramposted last Maycame from.

When I reached the fourth row, my friend Nadine, a Pinterest and DIY fanatic, came by and noticed a folded forgotten rug with shimmering details  in some corner of the dining room. As she was taking a closer look, she exclaimed that it was beautiful and that was all I needed to hear to continue working on it.

But the warmer  days soon came and so did the outdoor activities, and I had no desire spending time with a thick rug in my arms. I put it aside and left the country for the summer months, but the rug was always in the back of my mind.  My biggest concern was that by Fall, the Moroccan design would not be stylish anymore, just as it gradually happened with the Chevron pattern.  To my relief, when I returned in August, some of my favorite home catalogs and magazines that were waiting for me in the mail, were filled with rugs, pillows, duvet covers and more, all with my favorite Moroccan shape pattern.

Between Fall and New Year, the rug was constantly  in and out, from storage to the dining room, while I had nearly no time to work on it.

When I was half way through, I wanted to make sure that the last rows would end straight on the bottom part. So I started drawing horizontal lines with chalk,

Horizontal Lines - mydearirene

and later even vertical ones, forming cubes to fit each motif, to make sure that the pattern would end straight.

Boxes - mydearirene

When I finally reached the last row, just about a week ago, I was so excited to the thought that it would soon be ready,  that I managed to finish it in just one day!

Once I was done, I turned the rug upside down and opened well any paper fasteners that were not properly inserted.  Here is a picture of the reverse side.

Area Rug Reverse Side - mydearirne

And of course, before placing the rug in the living room, I laid a rug underlay, absolutely necessary in this case, not only to prevent the rug from moving around but also to protect the floors from the metallic pins.

Non Skid Padding - mydearirene

I couldn’t be happier with the result. It was absolutely worth it!

Area Rug In Living Room - mydearirene

My new rug now sits perfectly well in the formal living room, giving the warmth that was needed with a touch of shiny glamour!

Discreet Pattern - mydearirene

During this last week, we’ve had a few people over to our house.  This rug got a million compliments!

Pattern - mydearirene

It goes without saying that if my children were still at the crawling stage, I would not consider having such a rug in the house. Although the fasteners are well fastened under the rug, they will come off, if pulled up, and we all know what small little hands are capable of!   Also, it is needless to mention that I would never have the time for such a long project with smaller kids around!

Living Room - mydearirene

If you really think about this,  you’ll realize that the rows of smaller shapes are actually formed from the sides of the 4 other tiles that surround them. So, in reality, this requires less work than it seems.

Repeated Pattern - mydearirene

Before writing this post, I wanted to make sure that everything worked nicely with my new rug. So we spent a few hours in the formal living room, stepped on it barefoot (quite nice), with heels (no problem), sat on it (not the most comfortable place to play a board game), vacuumed it (with the soft brush accessory), contemplated it (what a nice sight!) and overall I can say that it’s just like any other rug, maybe a little more sensitive. I guess that if I ever have to clean it, I would use a steam cleaner, or treat stains with a special cleaning solution. I will keep you posted in the future!

Brass Fasteners - mydearirene

Pattern - mydearirene

And a few numbers: 

  1. The rug is 6 x 9 feet.
  2. If I remember correctly, the rug cost $19.99.
  3. The size of my motif was 11½ inches wide  x  13 inches high.
  4. There are 8 rows with 6 tiles on each row, so that equals to 48 Moroccan tiles.
  5. For each shape, I used an average of 93 paper fasteners, around 4,500 fasteners in total.
  6. Each box of 100 brass plated paper fasteners cost $ 0.91.
  7. Overall, this rug costs less than $70.00.
  8. After I got the hang of it, it took me 25 minutes to make one motif. That equals to 1,200 minutes or 20 hours of work.

What would I had done differently: 

  1. I would have started by placing the first shape on the exact center of the rug and work my way out towards all four sides, even if the motif didn’t end as a whole pattern on the borders. That way, the rug would have a pattern throughout.  Now, I have a 3-inch margin with no pattern,  on the end, below the last row,  –  it’s under the love seat, so it doesn’t show. I debated between cutting it or leaving it, but was afraid to destroy so much work if something went wrong while cutting it.
  2. I would had traced the chalk borders from the beginning to ensure that all patterns have the exact same dimensions. The chalk can easily be removed with the vacuum cleaner and I would feel more confident knowing where I was going.
  3. I would had find 25 minutes each day to finish this rug in a 48-day period. And even maybe 1 hour per day to finish it in just 24 days!
  4. I should had chosen a smaller rug!


– 6 x 9 indoor-outdoor plain area rug – Costco Wholesales

– Brass plated paper fasteners, 8 mm round head, ½ inch long –

– Seam Ripper –  Joann

– Disappearing Ink Marking Pen –  Michaels

– Moroccan Pattern – cut out of a Kleenex tissue box and enlarged to the desired size


3 Responses to How A Paper Fastener Saved My Living Room

  1. I too have only found your blog today and this rug is exciting……! I love it….. 🙂
    Nadia in Perth, Western Australia

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Hi! I'm Angelica! For the last ten years I've been sharing my cooking, home projects and ideas with my sister Irene. "Once Again, My Dear Irene" is just an extension of our daily chats. Moreover "My Dear Irene" Continue Reading