When it comes to small tools with great impact, few painting accessories can compete with a template. To make one, simply draw a shape on heavy coated paper or flexible cardboard, cut it out, place it on the wall, and outline it in chalk, as if drawing around a cookie cutter. Repeat. Once you've outlined your whole design, put the template away and paint freehand right over the chalk. Here, a tailored bedroom in minimalist shades of brown, bronze, and ivory got a welcome infusion of color and pattern with the help of two templates, three cans of paint, and a small brush. Atlanta-based decorative painter Brian Carter loosely based the design for this accent wall on a Moroccan tile, then added a twist. "Blowing up the pattern keeps it from being fussy," Carter says, while the wavy, diamond-shaped stars it creates and the way it's interrupted by the ceiling and corners keep it from appearing too rigid. Bronze dots, dabbed on with the same brush, add a graphic touch to the pale blue-and-cream scheme. For the how-to, read on.
Morrocan Star Overview
The secret to making this hand-painted pattern? Two templates you cut out of flexible posterboard. Download these patterns to get started on making the large and small templates.
Make the Chalk-Line Grid
Put down your base coat. Once it's dry, measure the wall side to side and snap a vertical chalk line down its center. Snap more lines to the left and right at 18-inch intervals till you hit the corners. About 3 inches from the ceiling, mark the bottom of the top row of interrupted stars with chalk. Move down the chalk lines, marking dots at 18-inch intervals. Using a yardstick, connect the dots diagonally and create a grid of 18-by-18-inch diamonds.
Make the Templates
Using a piece of 18-by-18-inch posterboard folded into quarters, and the pattern available here, create a template for the larger Moroccan star. Create a second, smaller star by tracing the second pattern, available here.
Trace the Large Template
Placing the large template under the topmost dots, use chalk to outline a row of whole stars. Continue, working in vertical rows. Outline interrupted stars last, bending the template to help.
Trace the Small Template
Center the small star within each of the large stars you just drew, and outline it in chalk. (Note: The outlines of adjacent large stars create similar shapes that don't get small stars, so you should end up with a pattern that has equal numbers of two-template and one-template stars.)
Paint the Large Stars
Using a ½-inch round artist's brush, paint the large stars right over the chalk outlines. Make sure the stars touch at all four points. Let dry.
Paint the Small Stars
Paint the small stars over the chalk outlines. Let dry.
Paint the Dots
Using the same brush and an accent color, paint dots at the intersections of the stars. Give the dots a second coat as needed.
Erase Chalk Grid
Once the dots are dry, use a damp sponge to erase the chalk-line grid.