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Striped Wall Tutorial

When I started this project, I thought it would be a quick, simple way to add a little interest to a tiny space. I thought wrong. I'm gonna stop you right here and try to convince you to click on this link which will take you to a list of pretty, striped wallpapers you can buy instead of putting yourself through hours, days even, of insanity trying to paint perfect lines on a wall.

If you're still undeterred, then fine. I'll teach you the easiest way I know to paint a striped wall. But here are some things you should know:

  • Dark colors are unforgiving

  • Painter's tape is unreliable


I drew these lines so many times using so many different methods and could never get it quite right so I eventually just got my husband, Nathan, to do it.

He's way more patient and precise than I am and was able to get the lines fairly straight. I say fairly because he was the one that figured out the wall wasn't even. This little closet actually bows in the middle which was why my lines kept turning out crooked. Here's how Nathan got straight-ish lines and how we created a bit of an optical illusion to hide the flawed wall.

I knew I wanted my stripes to be 5" wide. To avoid measuring along a crooked line, Nathan started by finding and marking the center of the closet. From that point he measured out 2.5" on each side of that middle mark and that became our middle stripe. He then measured out 5" on either side from that main stripe again and again until he reached the edge of the closet. (Our edge stripes aren't 5" wide, but that's fine.)

Up until this point, no actual lines were drawn, only dots. To get straight lines going down, Nathan measured and drew a series of dots at each measurement along the length of the wall and then connected them as best he could with a ruler. (That bowed section of the wall still gave us a little trouble.) As you can see from the crazy picture below, we didn't bother erasing ALL those crooked lines. We just marked the correct ones and moved on.

I wanted the closet to look bigger than it really is so I painted the edge walls my lighter color which meant my outermost stripes would be dark. This actually worked in my favor because I was able to disguise a little of the wavy, bowing wall in that now dark corner.

In painting just those outer edges and lines, I found that my painter's tape wasn't going to be a ton of help. There was enough bleeding on the edge of the lines that I had to freehand over them anyway so I decided not to take the time to tape the entire wall. I just started tracing my lines very slowly.

This step requires a really steady hand and even then, you're going to make mistakes unless you're some kind of painting wizard. I used a small paintbrush to go along the edge of the line and then a regular paint brush to fill in.

Here's my family checking in on my mental state mid-project.

I did two coats of paint on my darker stripes and was able to get away with only one thick coat for my lighter stripes because it was so close to the original color of the closet. I probably went over all my lines twice just trying to make my mistakes as unnoticeable as possible. While they aren't perfect, I think they're as close as I can get and when I step back and see the space as a whole, I love the look and don't even notice those tiny little imperfections.

I honestly thought this project would be fairly easy to accomplish and something I could knock out in a couple days, but it took me about a week to complete. I think part of the reason I thought this wouldn't be hard was because when I was younger, my mom painted stripes in my sister's nursery. It was a huge room and it did take her some time, but she seemed to breeze though it no problem. I have no doubt it was a difficult feat, but I also think she got a little grace by choosing a pastel yellow and pink for her colors as opposed to my contrasting cream and dark green. So maybe stick to lighter colors.

Here's where this space started...

And here's the finished look!

If you decide that painted stripes are still the perfect look for your space after reading this, my only other advice for you is to take it slow and expect to mess up. I really am glad I went for this look and I absolutely love it! I'm happy with it every time I open this closet and I think it makes the space look deeper and taller than it did before. It definitely is a fun and interesting little detail of our home. But if I had to do it over again, I probably would've just bought some wallpaper and called it a day.

Here's that wallpaper list again JUST in case you need it.

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