Modern stripey makeover

Transform your home with our step-by-step guide. Barbara Chandler shows you how it's done
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Painting stripes on walls can create a sophisticated, individual interior. This can be a quick DIY project, particularly if you use water-based acrylic matt emulsion paint, which dries rapidly.

Stripey combinations
* The simplest idea is to run a single stripe around all or part of your room. A combination of coloured stripes is more ambitious.
* Coloured stripes need a reasonably big uncluttered wall area to make an impact. Incorporating doors and windows can be tricky.
* Horizontal stripes can appear to widen a room. This is good for the end of a corridor, for example.
* Vertical stripes can make a ceiling seem higher. Fit shelves across them for a "grid" effect.
* Work out colour combinations carefully. Take ideas from other striped products - a wrapping paper, for example, or a piece of fabric. Use match pots to test and finalise your ideas.
* Varying the width of stripes creates extra impact.
* A handy rule of thumb is to use one or two neutral shades for wide background stripes, with thinner stripes as highlights.
* Or simply stick to graded stripes of one colour.
* Or try painting different stripes in the same colour, but in different finishes - alternate matt and eggshell, for example.
* Painting pieces of MDF, or artist's canvases, to hang on the wall, is an easy, flexible way to add stripes to a room.

Step-by-step: How to paint stripes on walls

Drawing edge of stripe with long ruler
Drawing edge of stripe with long ruler
You will need: water-based acrylic paints in your chosen colours; a medium-sized synthetic paint brush, or a medium-pile paint roller and tray; a spirit or laser level; a long steel ruler; a soft pencil; and good-quality masking tape (two inches is a good width). Plus dust sheets and rags. And a sturdy step ladder is essential if your top stripes are out of reach.

1. Make a careful plan
This is not a quick project, as you must allow time for each stripe to dry before tackling an adjacent stripe. However, once initial preparation is done, each stripe will not cause a lot of disruption.

2. Prepare your surface
Make sure your wall is clean, dry and free from grease. Fill any cracks and holes (left by picture hooks, for example). Allow filler to dry, then rub smooth and spot prime with emulsion paint.

Applying masking tape
Applying masking tape
3. Mark out the stripes
Using a spirit level and ruler, mark out stripes in pencil. Always work to a true horizontal or vertical: do not be guided, for example, by a skirting board or door frame, which may not be straight.

4. Paint stripe one
Without masking tape, paint stripe one overlapping into stripe two. Allow paint to dry, and apply a second coat if necessary.

5. Stripe two
Apply masking tape over stripe one, to delineate the edge of stripe two. Use a little paint the same colour as stripe one to paint the edge of the masking tape next to stripe two. This "blinds" - or seals - the tape, and stops the second colour creeping under its edge and spoiling the sharp line of the stripe. Allow this paint to dry. Paint in the second stripe, up to and slightly over the edge of the masking tape.

Applying paint with roller
Applying paint with roller
6. Finishing the job
Continue this technique of painting, taping, "blinding" and painting until the job is finished. Make sure that paint is completely dry before removing masking tape.

Practical tips
* Brushes and rollers can be washed clean with warm soapy water.
* Use a hair dryer to make small areas of paint dry quicker.

With thanks to David Mottershead, managing director of The Little Greene Paint Company (

For more project ideas using water-based acrylic paints, plus advice on general painting techniques, go to

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