Introduction

Add style by painting an oversized pattern on your walls
Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
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For a one-of-a-kind look that is more personal than wallpaper, grab some blackboard chalk and start sketching. You'll need a pattern first, of course, so start small and think big. That's how decorative painter Brian Carter breathed new life into the dining room shown here. First, he hunted up a swirly floral wallpaper pattern to adapt as a larger, looser drawing. Then, using tracing paper, he copied the biggest shapes, stripping away the small stuff. Finally, he transferred his drawing to the walls, stepping up the scale dramatically for a fresh, whimsical effect. His oversized flowers, tendrils, and leaves never repeat, making them even more dynamic as they travel around the room, bumping up against the trim. Other tools of his trade include a chalk line to create a grid on the walls and an artist's round brush for maximum control when making curving lines. The paint itself is regular interior latex. Carter recommends trying out this technique in a little powder room, where it's easy to take a big risk, or in a dining room, adding, "It's a good place to be theatrical since you're mostly there in the evening." Read on for the steps he took to turn a fusty floral into a sensational swirl of curves and color.

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    Tools List

    • Pencil
    • two-foot level
      Level
    • folding ruler
      Ruler
    • chalk line
      School chalk and/or Chalk Line with pale chalk dust
    • Painter's Tape
      Painter's Tape (to protect baseboard and molding)
    • artist's brush
      Rounded Artist's Brush, such as a #12

    Shopping List

    1. Tracing paper

    2. Pattern such as a length of wallpaper, fabric, or wrapping paper, or a photocopied image of a patterned object, such as a rug

    3. Damp cloth

    4. Interior latex paint in three colors