Easy, inexpensive DIY project: painting stripes on walls

Better Homes and GardensBetter Homes and Gardens

Wallpaper has resurfaced as a major decorating trend in the last five or so years, and much as I'm dying to partake, the expense of not only the actual wallpaper but the labor to hang it (this definitely falls under the category of home improvement projects I don't trust myself to tackle on my own) is daunting. Instead, I've been considering painting a pattern on my walls to mimic the graphic effect. And if you go with something relatively straightforward, like stripes, it doesn't seem that hard to accomplish.

First, pick your colors. If you're craving something really bold you can go with opposing shades of black and white or something similarly high-contrast. For a more subtle look, try shades within one color group, like robin's egg and powder blue. It can also be fun to mix paints with different finishes-like matte and semigloss-for more visual interest.

Consider whether you want vertical or horizontal stripes. Both add dimension to a space, though vertical stripes make the ceiling seem taller, while horizontal ones can make a room feel bigger.

Start by painting walls in your base color, and be sure to let it dry for at least 48 hours before proceeding to the next step. Measure the wall to plot out where your stripes are going to go, starting with the least noticeable corner of the room. Keep in mind you may have to tinker with the width of the stripes at the end, to keep things balanced. If you're painting vertical stripes, as you get to a corner, either adjust the width or let the stripe wrap around the corner. Mark the stripes with a colored pencil in the color you're about to paint on (which is going to be easier to cover than if you were using graphite).

Use painter's tape to create an outline for your stripes (remember to place the tape just outside your markings so that you paint over the colored pencil), and use an old credit card to run along the length of each strip of tape to make sure it's stuck firmly in place. To prevent colors from bleeding, first paint over the edge of the tape with your base color-that way if paint seeps through under the tape, you won't notice since it's in your base color.

Next, paint in the stripes in your contrasting shade, and carefully remove the tape soon after (within the hour, before the paint has had a chance to dry) to avoid peeling. One coat should be plenty-too much paint and it's more likely to peel as you take off the tape. If you find that the stripes have jagged edges, use a fine artist's brush for touch-ups.

Sources: bhg.com; diynetwork.com; do-it-yourself-help.com

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