Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to: DIY Painted Moroccan Wall

We have a tiny kitchen, and a tiny budget, but I still like pretty things. So, I found some inspiration and got to work on my very bleak and blank canvas that was our kitchen: a DIY Painted Moroccan Wall.

Disclaimer: I started this project in January (yes, January), before this pattern started showing up everywhere. On everything. So maybe I'm ahead of the times, maybe I'm super trendy... but mostly I just kind of feel like one of the slowest painting members of the masses. Dang it. 

But we love the wall and that's all that matters. So here's the breakdown of the painting experience:

I knew I wanted something busy that could be the focal point of the kitchen, because it's a large blank space with not a lot of furniture coverage. I considered stripes, but I'm trying to kick my addiction. Or at least cut back. So after finding the Moroccan pattern, I knew it would be just what I was looking for.

First I painted the wall with two layers of a satin finish light grey. Menard's did a great job matching my chosen paint sample to their cheapest brand of paint, making it $14 instead of the brand name $35. Apparently my natural taste in paint is expensive. (Also in boots. See my last post.) Sigh.

After giving the paint plenty of time to dry, I gathered my small set of supplies. All it took to make the Moroccan design was: the smallest size can of white paint with a gloss finish (I wanted contrast against the satin), a paintbrush that was the width of the line size I was going for, a pencil, a level, and this free printable stencil, traced onto cardboard. I already had everything but the paint, so the total cost of the design: $3. I had thought about doing wallpaper or even saving money by wallpapering with gift wrap, but I just couldn't refuse doing the whole project for just $3. (And soooo many man hours, but I have a lot more of those than dollars at this point in my life.)

Then, the stencil process started. At first I contemplated only doing five lines of shapes down the wall, about one third of the way in, so I started there in case I liked the look of it. I held the stencil in the middle of the wall vertically, then worked up and down from there - I checked horizontally and vertically with the level every time I traced the stencil shape. Then, once I had connected the shapes from ceiling to floor, I painted along the outside of the line using the width of the brush for consistency. After finishing just a few lines, I knew I wanted to paint the entire wall.

Each line had to be double coated for the right color, and it took me 45 minutes almost to the second for every vertical line. That's why it looked the way it does in the picture above for quite a while...half-finished. I took lots of breaks when it came to getting this wall done. My hours between getting off work and going to bed just somehow disappear? So I just took my sweet time with this :)

During the painting process, we found a new dining set and kitchen cabinet from Craigslist land. I loved the lighter wood but I felt like the wall started to overshadow all the other blank space in the kitchen. Plus, our old black curtains kind of sucked out the happiness that the cute busy wall brought in.

So, I found some floral material on clearance to make into smaller curtains, and just used $4 tension rods from Bed Bath & Beyond in the window frame, rather than the heavy hardware that used to be above the doors. I lined the middle shelf of the cabinet with the extra floral material to match, and lined the other shelves with a striped material for contrast. I love the mix of patterns with matching colors - it turned out better than I planned, because I never really had a plan :) That's the beauty of depending on Craigslist and a small, small budget!

Here's our kitchen, before and after. I can't believe how long we lived with that empty blank kitchen. Moving in is such a process. Or else I'm just really slow and indecisive when it comes to decorating...can't be helped.

From start to finish, painting this wall took almost exactly 24 of my life's hours. A whole day. I'm feeling totally ok with that - it has brightened up that kitchen every day since I [finally] finished it! The curtains were my first and hopefully last sewing project for this apartment. I have never learned how to sew very well, so it gives me anxiety. But lining the shelves with material, I can handle that! Considering no sewing is involved, and I used sticky tack in case I get sick of the material :) I know the way I like to change things around often, so I can't make things too permanent.

Except for the wall. That wall will be a Moroccan wall for the rest of its life, even if I have to pay the next tenants to let it live. Since the wall pattern cost a total of $3, I think I'm ok with that.


  1. Wow, that looks super great! Way to be that's very creative!

  2. I may try doing this. It looks super fun!


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