Decorating with tapestries adds an elegant touch

Kathryn Weber
Tribune Content Agency

The hype surrounding the passing of PBS’ “Downton Abbey” is fading, but the memories of the show’s beautifully decorated sets will remain. One of the most charming decor elements on the show was the tapestries in the Grantham House.

Whether they’re from Europe, the Middle East or Asia, new or antique, tapestries are elegant and a nice break from the standard square frame on the wall. Bringing one home from a far-flung trip often finds them tucked away in a linen closet. But there are several ways to display them in your home beautifully.

Rich tapestry

Tourists in Europe know well the variety of tapestries that can be purchased there. Each tapestry tells a story and can be used in a variety of home styles to reflect the owner’s tastes. Some tapestries feature nature motifs, such as florals, country scenes, animals and birds, and some feature scenes of people or buildings, such as castles and cathedrals. They can also be found in many different color combinations. Can’t afford an expensive tapestry? Sew one using chenille upholstery fabric from your local fabric store.


One of the challenges of hanging tapestries is how to finish them. If you’ve purchased an unfinished tapestry, many times, the sides aren’t hemmed. You can usually take your tapestry to a local upholstery store to have it hemmed. Then, the next question is how to hang it.

There are a variety of ways to hang a tapestry. The easiest and fastest, though not the cheapest, is to have it stretched and framed in custom picture frame. This makes the tapestry look like a piece of artwork and is an elegant way to finish the piece.

If you don’t want to frame your tapestry, a rod pocket can be added to the back of the tapestry and it can be hung on a standard curtain rod. For a more elegant look, consider adding hanging tabs in a contrasting fabric. Be careful to space the tabs so that the tapestry hangs evenly on a rod. Finish your rod-hung tapestry with tassels for an extra touch of elegance.

Large, heavy tapestries may require more strength behind them. This makes a baseboard hanger a good option. Using a one-by-four piece of lumber cut two inches shorter than your tapestry width, staple the tapestry onto the back of the lumber. Next, attach the lumber to your wall using screws into the wall studs or by using wall anchors. This enables the large tapestry to hang closely and securely to the wall.

Where to hang

Add vertical tapestries in stairwells to add interest there. A large, dramatic tapestry could be used to create a focal point. The intricate designs of a woven tapestry look especially attractive on any natural walls made of stone, brick or plaster. Or try hanging a tapestry over a beautiful antique in your home to complement it. Hallways are a perfect location for wide tapestries and create interest there. For a soft appeal, add a tapestry hanging over your bed for a unique piece of artwork.