If the goal of most interior paint jobs is an even, uninterrupted backdrop devoid of bumps and brushstrokes, the idea here is something else again. Like an Abstract Expressionist painting, this wall has movement and visual texture. “The idea was inspired by old chateau walls with layers of paint and plaster, and by lime-washed walls and Venetian plaster,” says Annie Sloan, the British decorative painter and entrepreneur who details this project in her most recent book, Annie Sloan Paints Everything (CICO Books).
Her No. 1 trick involves a humble tool: Call it cardboard meets canvas. “Cardboard is soft and doesn’t make scratchy marks, yet is still firm to hold,” Sloan says. It does absorb paint, however, which means you need to swap in a fresh piece every 5 to 10 minutes—one way to repurpose that pile of boxes from Amazon.
All told, it’s a satisfying, clever endeavor, whether the end result covers a jewel-box powder room or a dramatic accent wall. This step-by-step shows how.
The paints used to achieve this look: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in cream-colored Old Ochre (base coat) and Old White (final coat), with blends made from Duck Egg Blue, Louis Blue, Old White, and taupey Coco.
Abstract Texture Painting
1. Pour roughly equal amounts
- Mix equal amounts of the two blues onto a silicone paint-mixing mat, once the base coat is completely dry.
2. Work the two blues together
- Use a piece of stiff cardboard and a scraping motion to blend the paint.
3. Move to the wall
- Use the cardboard to create the biggest layer of color by softly scraping and varying pressure as you move along, angling the cardboard and using one or two hands.
- Let the creamy base color show through in spots.
4. Add a few accents
- Blend some warm taupe with bits of the two blues that remain on the mat, and use the cardboard to apply it here and there.
5. Create a blue-gray
- Tint white with smaller amounts of the two blues and a bit of the taupe; apply as in Step 3.
- Do a final sweep with white, allowing glimpses of the colors underneath to show through.
- Allow white to dominate in some areas, blue-green in others.
6. Smooth the layers
- Use sandpaper to take care of any hard edges, then add sheen with a buffing pad.
- Seal the wall with a layer of wax, if you wish.
- Flatter the finished wall with a shapely furniture piece in front of it, and keep the rest of the decor clean and simple.