Monday, October 4, 2010

Linen Walls: Get The Look With Paint


Since first posting the above image of a painted wall treatment meant to resemble linen (or a tweed) fabric in the master bedroom, I've gotten several requests asking for instructions on how to recreate this look. While the bedroom is undergoing a redesign, this treatment, which adds a subtle yet luxurious depth and texture to the walls, has been incorporated into the new design.

I finally had a bit of time this past week to put together this tutorial. For the sake of documenting the process in photographs, the steps were painted on a canvas. If you can, just pretend its a section of wall that is being painted instead! Also, creating this effect is a simple project but with one hard part...it's a time consuming process. Because of this I would suggest this treatment be used on a feature wall rather than all the walls in a room. If you attempted that I suspect you'd be cursing me the entire time.


Begin by painting the selected wall a base color. This will likely be the same paint color used on the other walls in the room, but it could also be another color which coordinates with the main wall color. In this bedroom all walls were painted SW Universal Khaki, with the linen technique applied to the headboard wall in the room.


Next, pour an ample amount of the wall color into a container and mix in white or ivory paint to lighten the color. The amount of lighter paint added will depend on the colors being used and how much contrast between the paint shades is desired. I mixed a ratio of approximately 5 to 1.


Mix the paint colors together.


Then using a small painters brush, apply the lightened color onto the wall in lines. This is done by painting a series of lines across the wall in a crosshatch pattern.


The lines should vary in length, with some painted closer together and others further apart. Repeat this process working from one side of the wall to the other, from the ceiling to the floor. Do you now see why this is a time consuming process?


Once the wall has been covered with the first layer of pattern, mix in another portion of paint, and this time consider using a metallic paint. I used Painter's Touch Brushed Metallic in Platinum. Doing this adds a soft shimmering quality to the final result. Also, depending on the shade of paint used and the degree of contrast desired, additional white or ivory paint may also be added at this time. This is where you will just have to experiment to achieve a look that appeals to you.


Mix the paint colors together.


Repeat the process of covering the wall with a crosshatch pattern, layering the new paint color over the initial layers, being careful not to paint any lines directly over lines painted in the previous step. Painting the crosshatch pattern twice, in the gradually lighter tones, is what creates the look of fabric. When you look at a linen fabric the texture and pattern is a result of subtle differences in the thread color making up the pattern and the shadows created by the texture.



Applying this technique on textured drywall is actually easier than on the canvas I used to show the steps. As you can see in the above close up, the texture of the wall actually lends itself to attaining the look of a fabric. This is due to the brush not being able to easily push the paint down into the texture, with the strokes skimming across the top surface of the texture. So don't be concerned that the lines are "broken" when painting the crosshatch pattern, this is actually something you want to see!



So there you have it. Are you ready to paint a linen looking wall, or do you think ordering a couple rolls of wallpaper is the direction you would opt to go instead?!

100 comments :

  1. Your How-to posts always amazes me. How do you balance the patience with some of the more extensive projects?


    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

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  2. Genius!! I would have never thought to re-create a grasscloth (textured) look with paint!!!

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  3. This may be a little too time consuming for this impatient girl, but I'll bet it would make a real statement.

    This is a different approach than one I saw years ago on Lynnette Jenning's show. (Are you old enough to remember her? LOL!) She used some type of tool that looked almost like a comb, but she had to wipe it off frequently to get the desired look.

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  4. Back in my days of being a decorative painter, I did several linen finishes, but I don't think they ever looked this good! I used a metal comb, dragging through a glaze topcoat. I think your technique, when applied well, could really look better. I wonder about combining the two techniques? Great tutorial, Janelle, as always!
    www.divinedistractions.blogspot.com

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  5. Yes, I have a "Linen Brush" from Ralph Lauren, used it to apply the wash in the master bathroom. It created more of a striae effect, and will actually use that brush again on a project I'm talking about on Wednesday. There are many different tools to create a really great range of looks with paint, isn't there?!

    Janell

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  6. Beautiful!! What a great low commitment way to achieve the look of wallpaper. Love the texture/color.

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  7. Oh...And to answer Mr. Goodwill Hunting: Put on some really great music and just kind of relax, it can almost be meditative! Janell

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  8. That's gorgeous! But wow, that would take a long time.

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  9. Oh Janell, I would probably have to pass on this one! Not only do I not have the patience, but my boys would constantly interrupt me!

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  10. Ha! Christine and Lakeitha, so you girls fall into the "order me up some wallpaper, please" category? Yes, I did say there was one hard part, time. For a 15' wall it took me about 20 hours. It cost nothing as I had all the paint on hand, but afterwards I wondered if I would do it again. But...love the result. Janell

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  11. Thanks so much for showing this. I've been wanting to do this in my family room, but haven't fallen in love with any techniques until now. I cannot wait to give this a try! Have a great day.

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  12. It certainly turned out beautiful but I'm not sure I have the patience! I have seen the other version with glaze. But instead of a comb you just use a wisk broom and go in both directions. Or instead of taking off the glaze with the broom you can dry brush it on with it.

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  13. I've always suspected that you are much more patient than I and this definitely confirms it! I do really like the way it turned out though and your tutorial is excellent.

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  14. Whoa...intensive! I suppose that is something like running a marathon. You are cussing while you are doing it saying "what was I thinking" but after it is over, you get that awesome feeling of accomplishment! It sure looks great with that incredible headboard!

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  15. This seems like one of those projects you only do once. I would be so proud of my wall if it turned out like that! I would never want to paint over it. The cost of the project is pretty awesome too!

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  16. Wow! Thanks for that tutorial! I might try that in a bathroom, it looks so fresh and clean! Considering the amount of time it just took me to remove the wall paper in my dining room, I'd much rather take the time to paint rather than wall paper a feature wall :)

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  17. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I love the look and love linen, so it is right up my alley. It would look so great in our living room, but we have a lot of walls ... not sure if I could tackle it. Gives me good inspiration though.

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  18. wow- what a great idea! it looks fantastic and I would never have guessed that it was done with paint! :)

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  19. You have the patience of a saint and the creativity of a genius. My hat is off to you.

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  20. I love love love this look ! I never tire of linen, and that textured look is gorgeous! Did I mention I love this look?
    xo
    Kate

    PS LOVED your motivation post too! It made me smile this weekend.

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  21. Hi! Janell, didn't you mention awhile back that you used a Ralph Lauren Linen brush technique with a glaze for the linen look? I do love this look better! Thanks!

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  22. Yes ... genius! This is beautiful. *Becca*

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  23. Julie B.
    Yes, and I'll post photos of that treatment and brush on Wednesday, when I use it for another project! I used the Ralph Lauren brush to create the striae effect on the walls in my master bathroom! You have a GOOD MEMORY!!! :) Janell

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  24. Love the idea, the tutorial and the finished look, and thank you so much for the time warning, which I find can often be overlooked in blogland :)
    How nice, also, to see that textured walls (which I'm not convinced are the most stylish invention ever), actually contribute to the look.

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  25. Struggler,
    YES, thanks for pointing out a positive aspect of textured walls, which I actually don't care for much at all. When I go into a home with smooth walls I just want to run my hands over them...okay, that's weird, but...

    Janell

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  26. I have been waiting for this :) thank you. The wall I would love to do it on does not get much natural light {or light at all for that matter}. Do you think it would have the same effect?

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  27. Hi Courtney,
    I think so, the light on my wall comes mostly from the lamps, the bedroom is quite dark and we have large trees in the backyard that blocks most of the direct light from hitting the wall. Let me know if you have any questions if you decide to give it a try.
    Janell

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  28. Oh my! Your wall is even more beautiful than I thought. I used to want to do this to my own wall, I think your focus and patients tops mine.

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  29. That is such a neat trick! I was totally convinced that the walls were linen. How long do you think it may take to paint this effect for a bedroom (let's say 10x11)? I assume it'd be pretty time consuming.

    Nevertheless, it's beautiful. Thanks so much! :D

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  30. No way, you did not!!!! I had to go back to your original post and see if you really did the whole room. And of course you did!

    It looks amazing, my friend, You are amazing!

    ox, Mon

    http://www.splendidwillow.com

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  31. Oh no...really I didn't! ONE wall, the headboard wall, and that was more than enough! Actually it would probably be overkill to do an entire room. I know I am crazy, but seriously, not that crazy!! :) Janell

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  32. and girlsfurniture, the 15 foot wall I did took about 20 hours...I was experimenting, so may have taken longer than had I known what I was doing when I began the project. I think an accent wall is enough, I wouldn't venture doing an entire room, unless it was a SMALL powder bathroom! Janell

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  33. I bet a similar technique could be achieved using a tile setting tool or scraper of some sort dipped in the lighter colors of paint, I might have to try this soon!

    Morgan @ PDB

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