So, in Mark Montano’s book on Home Decor, he explains how to cover light switch plates with various papers and paints. It turns out, this is a great way to add inexpensive, but special, touches to your space. It is so inexpensive, in fact, that you could easily change them out whenever you want. I was intrigued by his suggestions, so I adapted the project to help customize the look of our living room.
For my switch covers, I wanted to use pages from a book, because books are rather important to everyone in our family. I’m working towards adding some personalizing touches to our living area that reflect us, the unique people who actually live there. Books will have to figure pretty prominently. I love all types of books, both the ones made out of paper (otherwise known, these days, as DTB’s, or “dead tree books”) and the ones made out of digital bits and bytes. I love both versions, for different reasons. For covering a light switch plate, though, the paper version is pretty much a necessity.
I searched through our bookshelves, looking for something that would be suitable. The ideal choice needed to have an attractive typeface and be something that I wouldn’t mind cutting up.
Once I realized that we had two copies of the second Harry Potter book, I knew I had hit on the perfect selection. It is printed in a great typeface, garamond. And we somehow had ended up with two copies of it, since one copy had disappeared at an inconvenient time. So it definitely satisfied both criteria. Also, for the past two years, I had read these books aloud in the evenings. We didn’t do it every night, which is why it took so long, but we kept at it, and last month we finally finished reading the last chapter of the last book. And we loved every minute of Harry’s heroic adventure. So this choice was meaningful as well as attractive and dispensable.
I actually covered most of these switch plates a few weeks ago, but somehow(shockingly) I forgot to take photos. Fortunately, I had one more cover to do, so in honor of going to see the last Harry Potter movie tonight with a whole multitude of friends (yay!), I finally finished up my last cover and took in-depth photos for the blog:
Here are the materials that I used for the project: An exacto-esque knife, a cutting mat, a can of spray adhesive from Lowes, a can of crystal clear spray enamel from Lowes, a light switch cover unscrewed from one of my light switches, and a perfectly good copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
|Materials used – Note the book’s excellent condition . . .Only the best for my light switch covers!|
First, I had to get up my nerve to cut <gasp> pages <shudder> out of a Perfectly Good Book! Even though it was a duplicate, it was surprisingly difficult to do. The copy was pretty much pristine. I kept thinking maybe I should just pick something to which I was a little less attached. Finally, I went on Amazon and reassured myself that I could always get another copy for a mere $6. I would pay a lot more than $6 for fancy light switch covers! So this was a bargain.
I forced myself to cut out a page, and, to my relief, the book police didn’t start beating on my door. (Let’s hope the book police don’t read this blog, though!)
I turned the light switch cover over, and used it as a guide to cut out a rectangle using the craft knife.
I was careful to leave a pretty good margin around the edges, to allow for folding around to the back of the cover. You don’t have to worry about getting the lines perfectly straight, since the cut edges will be tucked to the back, out of sight.
Then I took everything down to the garage, to my spray painting area. These spray tools are fabulous, but, like most spray paints, they also have a powerful smell. I started by lightly spraying both the light switch cover and the back of my page with the spray adhesive.
Spray adhesive is so amazing. I had never used it before this project, but I’ve already used it numerous times in the past few weeks since I tried it. It is great for gluing paper, because the paper stays perfectly flat. It doesn’t buckle and wrinkle the way paper does with other kinds of glue.
After waiting a few seconds for the adhesive to get nice and sticky, I carefully aligned the page over the switch cover and then pressed it down. You do have to take care that you don’t get the lines of print crooked . . . unless that is the look that you are going for. I, personally, prefer to have my print going horizontally straight across the switch plate. you may do whatever you wish with yours!
Next, I folded the edges of the page around to the back. With this particular example, I could have used a little more excess paper around the edges, but it worked out with a little adjusting and spraying some extra glue.
Okay, now I had a light switch cover with no place for the light switch! What to do? I flipped the cover over and cut an “x” shape into the switch opening:
Next, I sprayed some extra glue onto the paper through the opening, and then I pushed my finger through the opening and folded back the edges of the “x” to make a nice rectangular opening.
I poked the craft knife through the back of the screw holes, to get them started, then flipped the cover over again and pushed a pencil into the holes from the front to make them nice and neat.
Finally, I was all set to spray on the enamel. This has to be done in several coats, and the first few need to be particularly light so that the paper doesn’t get too wet. This keeps the reverse side of the page from bleeding through too much. (It probably will a little bit, but that is part of the charm.)
Wait, what is this big gray blob????
Hmmmmmmm. Remember this?
Turns out, you really shouldn’t use a page where the reverse is the first page of a chapter, complete with illustration.
That was a little too much charm for me, so I ripped it all off and started all. over. from. the. beginning. Grrr.
Don’t worry, I won’t make you view photos of all the steps again.
Here is the second attempt, after a few light coats of enamel:
You may find that the paper tries to bubble up a bit after you start spraying it. If it does, just let it dry to the touch (usually only a few minutes) and gently smooth the paper back out, pressing it down firmly onto the plate. If you leave any fingerprints behind, the next coat of enamel will fix it up, no problem.
I decided that the white screws would be too glaring against the Harry Potter page, so I traced the screw heads with a pencil and cut out little pieces of Harry Potter Paper.
I glued the pieces onto the screws and coated them with a couple layers of enamel. Viola! Camouflaged screws! (By the way, “camouflaged” is shockingly tricky to spell. Am rather grateful for spellcheck on that one.)
Let it dry, screw the plate onto the wall, and that’s it!
Here are a couple of my finished pieces:
I love that every time I come up the stairs I am greeted with a little reminder of my favorite book series. It makes me happy.
And Phil likes them too, even though he isn’t really a Harry Potter fan. He is addicted to books, too, so he definitely approves of the overall concept.
So how about you? Do you think we’re a little crazy? Are you ready to attack your books with scissors? What could you potentially put on your light switch covers (or anything else) to blend with your decor or make the room reflect your interests and passions?