Pattern Your Walls for a Subtle Change

November 1, 2012Allison Murray


Not gonna lie. This project takes time. I taped off my walls for almost 4 days before I began painting. Now that wasn’t 4 days straight, by any means, but still… before I started on day 3 I was pretty darn sick of the whole thing. But, if I had it to do all over again, I would because while I got a subtle change, it was a change that I needed. My boring hall isn’t so boring anymore.

How subtle you go is totally up to you. My dad came to visit a couple of weeks ago to patch up a disaster of a bedroom ceiling for me and I had to point out my hand painted awesomeness on the walls. Then again, dude is color blind and not too in tune with home decor in general.

Besides, he was fixin’ to carry himself onto the roof of my house and I doubt he was thinking “A’s hall is looking particularly nice this visit.” It was probably more like “I never should have had kids. Always up on one of their dang roofs. I can claim a senior citizen’s discount for crying out loud!”

So, your choice of pattern or paint will really change up this whole project. Want to turn some heads? Go loud. What’s the worst that could happen? You have to repaint your walls? I can guarantee you it will be easier the second time!


Above is my hall before. It’s a hallway from a typical 80s floor plan. It is long, skinny and has no room for tables or any kind of decor that isn’t wall hung. As such, it’s been a pretty boring place the last few years…

So, do you want to mark up some hallway? You will need:

First things first, you’ll need to figure out what kind of pattern you want on your walls. My first thought was CHEVRON because I’m totally digging the trend. But, I’ve recently made a chevron tin lampshade and I’m working on recovering chair cushions in chevron. Before too long I’m going to be all chevroned out. So, I decided to work something else up.

I have no clue what this shape would be or how to describe it, but I wound up going with it because it was easy to tape off and really geometric in theme. So, while it isn’t my first choice, I think it’ll wind up being appreciated longer meaning I won’t be painting over it any time soon.

If you want to mimic my pattern, download the file here. Print the PDF, piece the two sides together and cut out. Use that as a guide to trace onto firmer material (I used an old file folder) but cardboard, etc. would work just as well.

If you want to do your own thing, Google wall patterns. It will take some math to get it figured out as far as how big you want it to be with your wall, but it will definitely be worth the effort!


I didn’t want my pattern going all of the way to the ceiling. I knew I was going to hang some new pictures and I wanted the pattern to stop about halfway up from the bottom of the frames. To make that work, I took my pattern up to 6 feet.

The pattern I made is repetitive and alternating. Use your yardstick to mark at 6 inch intervals from your baseboards. Make your marks about 2 feet away from one another and go down the full length of your wall.

Use your yardstick to connect the dots and make straight lines running down the length of your wall. By measuring along your baseboard, you ensure that your lines will be straight in relation to them. This should help to prevent any wavy lines in your pattern.

After your lines are marked, tape off as necessary.


Next use your cut out to tape off. I first made a column of the pattern by flipping the template over for each row.  Use some tape to adhere in between your horizontal lines you already have taped off. Once you are happy with your first column, proceed to the left and right by flipping the template horizontally.

In order to maintain my pattern well, I actually worked in blocks of about 3 feet by 3 feet. When that area was done, I’d move over and start again, making sure the whole time that my rows and columns were looking the same.


If you have something that is going to be more difficult to tape around, like my thermostat, here, work with it first. My very first thing to tape off was right over this box. I made sure that it was in the  middle of the pattern so that I didn’t have to any fancy tape work to pull my hair out over.


After you have everything taped up and are ready to paint run your hands over the section you are about to work on. What you want to do is push the tape down really well over any texture on your walls. If you do this just prior to painting each section, you’ll ensure nice crisp lines.


After you’ve pushed the tape down, go over with a brush with a light amount of paint on it. If your paint is really dripping, it might run under the tape despite your best efforts. Go lightly and with the direction the tape is placed.


Allow your paint to dry most of the way. I have found that if you remove your tape while your paint is still slightly damp, and pull very slowly you have less chipping, etc. around the tape.


So, here is my very first section completed. In  my mind I wanted white on my light mint green base coat, but then I worried about it being TOO subtle. Despite my initial instincts I painted this section off white. As it turns out, I hated it.

But just because it was so much work, I left it for a few days to make sure that I truly did hate it. When I realized that I was in fact correct, I painted the rest of the walls the white flat that I had initially wanted. Long story short, don’t second guess your instincts!


After your paint has been dried for a few days, take a damp Magic Eraser type of sponge and remove any pencil lines. I waited a couple of weeks but only because I was being lazy. And in fact I haven’t done all of the wall yet either. Oh, and the of white wall hasn’t been redone, yet. Again – lazy. Happy Thursday!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post Next Post