painted wallpaper {a tutorial}

When I first took over the front office, I knew I wanted to make it a lighter, more inspiring room to be in.  I thought about painting stripes because I really do love them, but I already have some thick ones painted in the boys’ room. Then I thought wallpaper would be nice. But here’s the thing about wallpaper: 1. I always like the most expensive one and 2. putting it up is a pain {although now that I think about it, it would probably be easier to hang wallpaper than to paint it. Oh well.}

So I decided that instead of looking for bargain wallpaper, I could just make my own.   I really like these curtains from Ballard Designs and decided to take the pattern as my inspiration.


Here are the steps:

1. Create a template {or download mine at the end of the post}

2. Trace the design onto the wall. Over and over again. Now it makes a lot of sense to use a level to make sure you are not drawing diagonally down the wall, but I didn’t go to such effort. I think I have a pretty good sense of straight {if that makes sense} so I was able to eyeball it.


No, #2 did not help me trace the pattern, he was just my model.

tracing the outline

Check out those sweet grubby little four-year-old fingernails.

There were sections where the pattern got a little wonky, so I just improvised and figured once the entire pattern was up, you wouldn’t notice little imperfections.  The one thing I did try to do was to keep the pattern equal along the top & bottom of the wall {see photo}


3. Paint over the lines {I painted along the inside of the line}.  I used a small paint brush that was the width that I wanted the lines to be and white latex paint we had leftover from the kitchen.

painting wallpaper lines

more painting around closet doors

wallpaper edges with pait brush

It takes a long time. But if you try it, just keep going … it is so worth it!

tracing the stencil

lining up the stencil under a window


Here it is again in it’s ‘after’ state.


And there you have it.

A project that was simple to do but just took lots of time and a steady hand.

You are welcome to use my template.



Need help understanding the double lines? Read this new post.

Share this tutorial & template with your friends via facebook

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300 Responses to painted wallpaper {a tutorial}

  1. Josh Johnson May 18, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing tutorial! I did this project with a “Dusted Plum” as base and “Shimmering Bronze” as stencil color — beautiful, just beautiful! Thanks again for sharing the pattern — I blogged about me working through your tutorial on my site: !

    Thanks again! Many Links provided to your site / tutorial through my blog.


  2. Jenn August 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    This looks amazing! Thanks for the guide and the stencil. I just finished doing my wall in my bathroom and I can’t stop looking at it. I can only imagine how long it took you to do the whole room!

  3. kake7 August 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    WOW. I LOVE this. I really want to try but I am thinking about just doing one wall instead of painting whole walls.
    What do you think???
    Thanks .

  4. Heather August 14, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    I just did this in my bathroom closet and loved it so much and was so sad that you’d barely see it that I painted it on one of the accent walls, lol. THANK YOU for posting this!

  5. Tina August 19, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I found you through another link but wanted to stop by and tell you I did a version of your stencil on my wall and LOVE it!!! THank you for the freebie!!!

  6. Kari August 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Love your blog! Thanks for sharing your template. When I try to print the pattern, the print preview is blank. Do I need to download this in another program to print? Suggestions?

  7. City Girl August 22, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    OMG I love this. I just really wish you caould email me the pattern so I could really do it on my own. LOL I am trying for a Moroccan theme and I would love to do this in my bathroom. Thats so elegant

  8. City Girl August 22, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Never mind…I found the template. I am soooo doing this project and when i do and post on my blog I will be sure to give you credit for the idea!

  9. Theresa August 27, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

    I used this pattern on an accent wall in my living room. My wall color was “Drizzle” by Sherwin Williams (a muted teal), and for the Moroccan quatrefoil trellis, I just mixed drizzle and white in a SOLO cup. I used CHALK instead of pencil and had fabulous results (super easy clean up, too!). I also used a level as a precaution.

    Thanks again!!

  10. Tabula Rasa September 20, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    this is the final product, LOVE the wall treatment! hands still aching hahaha :)

  11. Carrie September 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Do you think if I blew up the stencil to a 16×20, would it appear too big on the wall? BTW…love it!!!

  12. Megan November 7, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Stunning! What a fantastic tutorial you’ve provided. Megan

  13. Debby January 26, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    This is greatI Thank you! I’m going to try it this weekend!

  14. Patricia Krank February 2, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    I’m going to try this in my sitting room. Wish me luck! Patti

  15. Lisa Marie MacDonald February 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Thank you so much for the quatrefoil template – I used it to create some artwork for my bedroom :) Much-o appreciated!!

  16. lynnette February 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    that is amazing! how beautiful. i don’t think i would have the patience for that. i am considering a similar design, but it would have to be a stencil.

  17. Carolann March 6, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    After reading about your painted wallpaper- I think that perhaps you should be nominated “Princess patience”!

  18. Jan April 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    I did this and my one wall in my dining room (above the wainscotting). Took about 10 hours. And I thought I was going as fast as I could while still doing a good job. Your office must have taken forever!!!

    Thanks for the template and inspiration! I tagged you Instagram so you’d hopefully see my finished project. :)

    • emily April 8, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Nicely done! I couldn’t see the full image because your ig account is private, but from the teensy thumbnail, it looks great!

  19. The Fashionable Housewife May 14, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I printed your template and followed your directions to do my accent wall in my living room!

    Here it is:

    It took me 2 coats of the base paint, 2 hours to stencil and 12 hours to paint it in. Took me all day but I love it!

    • emily May 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

      It looks amazing!

  20. Valesha July 5, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I used your tutorial and template to create the wall in my bedroom a couple of years ago and it’s still my favorite thing in my house! Thought I’d share. :)

  21. Teresa July 26, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    What is the specific brand and size of your paint brush? I LOVE this idea and I’m planning on slowly redecorating my room and I want to do this on one of my walls but I like things the exact way I see them and I was wondering what’s the size and name of the brush.

    • emily July 27, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      I just grabbed a brush from my kids’ craft stuff. It is a flat edge and about 1/4 wide. Hope this helps!

  22. Lauren July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Just curious how you made sure the pencil marks didn’t show? I am interesting in using this design, but after my hubby “surprised” me by finally painting stripes in our daughter’s room I was horrified to find dark pencil marks that would not come off with eraser or in some cases showed through the paint. I have been leery of stenciling since.

    • emily July 27, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      There are faint pencil lines on the wall, but they are hardly noticeable. Just be sure you trace lightly. You could also use chalk for a wipe-off-able option.

  23. Jane August 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    This is so nice! I can’t wait to paint my own. when searching for more inspiration, I found this cute shop Wonder Wall Decal, they have this pattern precut. It’s the easier way out for those who have shaky hands! : )

  24. deb August 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I think this is beautiful, but I would make a stencil and save lots of time!

  25. Leanne September 2, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    I don’t have the most steady hand so I didn’t think I could pull it off… But I did! And I love it, thank you for the template and tutorial. Saved me money on buying those expensive stencils I’ve been browsing through online and so worth the seven hours I put into it!

    Here it is ….

  26. Patricia Krank September 4, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Here is a link to my site showing your hand painted wallpaper
    I absolutely love. Wouldn’t this make a lovely background for my blog wallpaper? I’m searching! Thanks for the tutorial.

  27. Lauren September 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    I’m still working on my bedroom because I ran out of paint (I was using some left over I had lying around). Thank you so much though! It totally made the room

  28. Diana November 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Oh! I LOVE this!!! I want to do this to a small wall in my bathroom… What is the dimensions of the template?

  29. ออกแบบ November 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    I appreciate, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be having
    a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  30. Tashnuva Masud January 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    Hi Emily,

    Your tutorial is amazing!
    I just finished my Powder Room wall following your instructions. Here is the link for you to have a look.

  31. Kristy March 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Finished my painted wallpaper…one month later :) love it!

    • emily March 5, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      Yea!!! Hope you love it.

  32. Gloria Elswood March 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Love this. I was going to wallpaper but couldn’t afford it and then I found your blog. Could you email the template to me? I tried to find it in the tutorial things you had and can’t find it. I am 70 and kind of bad at the computer. Thanks you again it is beautiful.

  33. Latisha April 22, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Thanks for the fantastic tutorial! I was wondering if you cold tell me what color your wall was painted? That looks like it would be a great color for my foyer!


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