Use a projector to capture classic decorative designs
How to paint a floor canvas
E. Spencer Toy; James Carrier
A. We rolled periwinkle blue latex paint on as our background color for the canvas mats at top.

Simple to make and surprisingly durable, painted canvas used as a floor mat adds graphic punch to a room. We started by choosing printed designs and photocopying them. The decorative patterns were reflected onto the canvases with a projector (available from art-supply and crafts stores) then each design was traced and painted. We found that simple, high-contrast patterns worked best.

How to make a floor mat

1. Lay out a preprimed canvas with a 1-inch allowance on all sides for finishing the edges. We started with 3- by 5-foot canvases (about $8-$10 each at an art-supply store).

2. With a foam paint roller, apply one coat of acrylic latex paint for your background color (A). Be sure to cover the entire front of the canvas. Allow to dry completely.

3. Using a sturdy, nonmarring tape, hang your canvas on a flat, vertical surface in a room that can be darkened, so the projected image will be easier to see.

4. Place the projector, with the photocopied pattern beneath it, on a flat surface approximately 8 feet from the canvas. Move the projector forward or back until the pattern on the canvas is the desired size.

We used an Artograph Tracer projector (available at crafts stores; $80) to transfer our designs onto canvas. The Tracer will enlarge images up to 14 times their actual size. The Tracer Jr. ($50) will enlarge an image up to 10 times the original. We needed the stronger projector to enlarge an image in one step to fit a 3- by 5-foot canvas. 

5. Use a pencil to trace the pattern onto your canvas.

6. Once you have completed the tracing, use a paintbrush with a flat, rounded tip (called a cat’s tongue) to paint within the lines with your second paint color (B). If you are painting a light color onto a dark color, you may have to use two coats. Allow to dry completely.

7. To make the surface durable, apply matte varnish according to the manufacturer’s instructions with a foam roller. 

8. To finish the edges of the canvas, fold under 1 inch on all sides. For a mitered edge, use scissors to cut a triangle out of each corner. Use fabric glue to secure the folds (C).

TIPSUsed bookstores are a great place to hunt for inexpensive books containing decorative patterns.

If you are tracing your pattern onto a dark color, use a white pencil.

If your canvas starts to warp or wrinkle, roll it firmly around a gift-wrap tube and leave it for several hours.

To give the floor coverings added durability, apply at least three coats of varnish.

When finishing the edges of the canvas, use books as weights to keep edges folded under while the fabric glue dries.

Put a thin foam pad under your finished mat to keep it from slipping.