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How to Paint Gingham Pattern Checks on a Wall

Plain walls take on the fresh look of a gingham print with three shades of blue on a field of white

It’s hard to think of a pattern that evokes a breezy summer feeling more readily than these cheery checks. There’s a quintessentially American country charm to the print, which tends to find a home among warm-weather staples like picnic baskets and outdoor table linens—and who could forget Dorothy’s iconic blue-and-white pinafore, straight out of Kansas?

We’ve replicated the look of the classic fabric here by starting with a base coat of white, then creating a grid of squares and applying three shades of blue. While the painting itself is straightforward, the process does require special attention to make sure each box ends up the right color. The trick: Start by measuring and marking off rows of same-size squares, then outline just one set of colored boxes at a time with tape. When those squares are painted, move on to the next set. That way, you’ll retain the same measurements for each color block from start to finish.

The final result is a classic look especially at home in a kitchen or breakfast nook—but with a change to paler or more neutral colors, it could freshen up virtually any room in the house.

For clean lines, tape off and paint only one set of squares at a time.

Step 1

Measure and Mark

Photo by Kolin Smith

Start with a base coat of flat white. Then, using a pencil, tape measure, and level, mark off vertical and horizontal rows to create 7-inch squares, starting at the center of the wall and moving out. It’s okay if the squares at the corners are slightly narrower.

Step 2

Tape Off the Darkest Squares

Photo by Kolin Smith

Starting along the top row, use a small piece of painter’s tape to tag every other square in every other row; these will get the darkest blue paint. Run tape vertically along the outside lines of all the marked boxes, then run tape along the outside of their horizontal lines.

Step 3

Paint the Dark Squares

Photo by Kolin Smith

Using a small foam roller, fill in the marked boxes with your darkest color. Use a light touch and apply two coats for even coverage, allowing the first coat to dry completely before adding the second.

Step 4

Remove Tape, Then Outline the Midtone Squares

Photo by Kolin Smith

While the second dark coat is still tacky, peel up the tape at an angle, then let paint dry completely. Starting along the second row, tag and tape off the squares above and below the ones you’ve already painted, making sure to tape along the outside of the squares that will receive the midtone blue, as in Step 2.

Step 5

Paint the Midtone Squares

Photo by Kolin Smith

Roll the midtone blue onto the second set of squares. Let the first coat dry completely before putting down the second. Pull up the tape while the paint is tacky, then let paint dry completely before moving on.

Step 6

Tape Off, Then Paint, the Lightest Squares

Photo by Kolin Smith

The lightest blue will go on either side of the dark blue squares. Tape off these boxes along the outside of their outlines, as shown above, and paint them as per the previous steps. This time, when you pull up the tape, you’ll be able to check out your gingham pattern.