How to Paint Your Walls to Look Like Wallpaper Using a Paint Roller

How to Paint Your Walls to Look Like Wallpaper Using a Paint Roller

A bedroom with painted walls that mimic the look of wallpaper

I love wallpaper. I especially love hand printed wallpapers. I have admired the work of Marthe Armitage for years. Her papers are hand drawn and then printed using a linocut press. The papers are mostly two-tone and the create the most wonderful  scenes. I was instantly attracted to her print, Jungle Birds. See below in a bedroom posted on her Instagram. All her colors are hand mixed and the handmade quality is undeniable. It’s exquisite. Find out more about her and her work at marthearmitage.co.uk.

In many places in my house investing in wallpaper just doesn’t make sense right now. I have areas that eventually will be rearranged or the hallways are so narrow that through the process of renovating the walls will inevitable get scraped. The rooms are fine as is but they do need to be refreshed.

My bedroom painted with printed roller

The Painted House designs printed rollers to mimic the look of wallpaper. A technique that involves a two-part roller that paints and prints a design onto a wall. She offers 18 different designs and are for sale through her Etsy shop. To watch the technique in action check out her how-to video below.

There are two parts to the roller system: firstly, there are the 6 inch wide, embossed patterned rollers in 18 different designs; then there is a choice of two applicators, one for use on fabric and the other for paper, wood & walls. The rollers are reusable and interchangeable. The fabrics have the look of traditional handmade block-printed fabric, and are not for heavy use. Like any other hand-printed fabric, they need very delicate hand washing with a mild detergent. The paper and walls roller gives a sponged, gently handmade look, like old, forgotten, sun bleached wallpaper. It particularly suits old walls.

The Painted House

I can confidently say, this technique is totally doable if you are not a perfectionist. You have to accept a certain level of variation. The designs will be hand made so you need to accept the mistakes. There are ways to clean up large “mess ups” but overall it’s impossible to make perfect. I don’t mind this process but I have read reviews that it drives other bonkers. Accept who you are and don’t choose to attempt if it will make you crazy.

A detail view of the birds. Flock patterned paint roller from The Painted House, $29, etsy.com.

I would suggest testing on your walls before actually painting with your final base color. In this room I did just that…I painted over the white walls that were there. This is the only good wall. They have been this way for a few years and I have yet to go back and clean everything up. I hung up some art to cover the mistakes but this Spring I would love to get them a refresh. I am thinking a brighter white and slightly different blue for the birds.

Learn how to create a no-sew upholstered headboard, view here.
Flock patterned paint roller from The Painted House, $29, Etsy.com

In the kids’ room I used the #4 roller by The Painted House which is not currently for sale on her website. I would suggest if you do see a pattern you like on her Etsy shop pick-up ASAP because they do sell out and they take awhile to get back in stock. I also own the tulip pattern which is quite lovely.

The walls here are painted blue with a dark kelly green motif. The two color tone in a matte finish makes the wall feel and look like wallpaper. And I noticed when there is less contrast between the wall color and motif you see fewer mistakes.

A display of flower paintings on the wall above a twin bed.
This is design #4 but currently out of stock with walls I hand block printed in the hallway. Find out how to block print walls here.

Once you master the wall technique you will mind will wander to all the other things you might decorate with the rollers. The options are endless. But I have made wrapping paper which is quite easy. I would also love to try printing fabric for curtains or even rolling onto a light shade.

What will you make?




Classic White House Exteriors in New England

Classic White House Exteriors in New England

A beautiful classic home in the quaint town of Annisquam, Massachusetts

When I was brainstorming colors to paint our house I first thought, yellow, pink or maybe pumpkin? But the more I collected images (I’m a big believer in Pinterest) I realized I really like white houses. I think it’s because I am drawn to colorful cottage gardens bursting with color.

When a house is a bright color I feel like the flowers don’t POP. White is such a great base and can be manipulated by adding different door colors, shutters, flowers. The possibilities are endless. It’s a very flexible base and the color is not prone to fading like brighter yellows. Living near the ocean our houses are battered by the weather.

On a recent drive up the north shore of Boston I snapped a few photos and video of old houses painted white. Each one is a classic beauty. I tend to be drawn to houses with green shutters. The more common choice is to pair it with a green door too. Architect Patrick Ahearn is well known in New England for showcasing this color palette. You can read about his specific paint choices here.

I have started to see more houses with an accent color like the one below. So cheery and feels a bit more modern then just a matching green. It’s totally OK to pair dark green shutters with a lighter green, yellow, blue or red.

If a bold front door color feels too much for you I would suggest starting with your back door. A back door is informal and place to play. Draw on the colors from your garden. Have fun. There are no rules.

I am still completely undecided on the accent colors (besides the white base) for my house. Shutters or no? Window boxes? Bold front door? Eventually I will figured it out. Our painters are currently just booked to do the white base. We really wanted to do a big exterior clean up but there are many details to remain which will take time. I know my process is much more visual so expect a lot more inspiration coming your way….

Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts
Beverly Farms, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts
Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts
Annisquam, Massachusetts



https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18040023259294288/

The Jelly Jar Flush Mount Light

The Jelly Jar Flush Mount Light

When you are renovating you spend thousands of dollars on structural fixes and then furnishings. But when it comes to the lighting budget you might not have much left. I offer a simple solution that won’t break the bank. The simple jelly jar flush mount. It is aesthetically pleasing and solves the problem of lighting hallways, pantries, bathrooms, closets and porches. A simple glass jar illuminated with a clear light bulb is quite elegant.

You can find Jelly Jar lights at most big box stores. They are under $20 and come in oil rubbed bronze, white or antique brass steel bases. Flush mounts are perfect for halls or closets where a sconce would be super sweet in a bathroom with a a vintage vibe.

I bought a set for my hallway in the oil rubbed bronze. Once I installed them I liked them but I didn’t love them. I kept thinking about Thomas O’Brien’s Perry Flush Mount and this updated jelly jar light by Deborah Ehrlich . I was worried I was being cheap in buying in the basic jelly jar and I should have just sucked up the extra cost and chose a different designed light.

I decided to try giving the base an antique brass treatment using Rub n’ Buff wax metallic finish paint. I only used a tiny bit and squirted on onto a piece of cardboard. I used a soft cotton rag to rub onto the lamp base. I added just a tiny bit of paint and rubbed back and forth all over the base. I wanted the black tone to show through so I was careful not to over apply the paint. I think it gives it more of an aged brass look rather then flat brass. I then covered the screws with paint to match too.

The installation is pretty simple but if you are new to installing lighting please contact an electrician. The glass jar screws into the bottom of the base with three screws.

I am super happy with how they turned out and can’t be more satisfied with the results. Step-by-step photos below.





Why It’s Completely O.K. To Have Painted Plywood Floors In A Bedroom

Why It’s Completely O.K. To Have Painted Plywood Floors In A Bedroom
When we bought our house one of the first things we did is rip out the old gray wall to wall carpeting on our third floor. It was old and smelled of cat pee. Underneath was plywood floors (sub floor) painted brown in one room and blue the other.
I covered the floors with sisal rugs and left it that way for years. We always had plans to do a complete gut job of the space and knew the floor would probably get covered with new wood flooring or carpet.
In the meantime life happened. The older you get the more expensive life gets. I decided to stop waiting and just spruce the floors up with some paint.
In this photo I am reinstalling the beds and touching up any places I missed.

What I learned in the process is that plywood floors are perfectly O.K. They are wood and once you paint them and put down a rug you will literally not notice it’s plywood.
I painted the kids room floor in Benjamin Moore’s Floor and Patio paint. The color is a color match to Farrow & Ball’s Babouche. The difference in price is about $54 a galloon vs. $137 for the Farrow & Ball. I know the Farrow & Ball color is probably a bit more outstanding and multi dimensional but I was unsure about the color and couldn’t commit. In hindsight I wish I would have just gone for the Farrow & Ball but this looks great too.

I prepped the floor by doing two coats of primer. I did not sand. After the primer had dried overnight I rolled on the yellow. Be warned: yellow is a hard paint color. It takes 4-5 thin layers to get the paint to completely cover. I did this using a small roller but also filled in spots with a brush.

Floor Paint by Benjamin Moore

I ran into a little trouble when I pulled up a the rug that was under the kids beds. It had a large worn spot from an office chair. I decided I needed to sand it.

I sanded it just enough to take off the top where the wood was hanging. I did not sand it to a full hand smooth finish. If I would have kept going I think I would have ended up down a road of me sanding the entire floor. The floor is dented and dinged but overall it’s smooth. I then mixed a cup of epoxy and poured over the damaged spot and spread with a roller. I added an added an additional coat about an hour later. I let dry overnight. The epoxy is like glue sticking everything together and down. I can still see divots but none of the wood is pulling up. The next day I primed and painted.


The floors have a beach house vibe and since plywood is laid in large sheets it’s a sea of flat color with very few seams. It looks cohesive. The amount of money I saved from not laying new hardwood and painting would probably be thousands. I feel like this is a compromise I can live with and does not have me thinking I am waiting to gut it. I think unpainted plywood could be really slick too with a poly to seal. I think plywood is totally overlooked and can be seen as low brow. But it has so many brilliant uses that feel modern and smart.



How To Block Print Your Walls

How To Block Print Your Walls

Block printing your walls is a fairly easy technique. The materials you will need are paint, a carved block and a sponge. 

I painted my walls a Benjamin Moore match to in Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster in Regal Select Matte finish. The walls paint are matte which I think is more forgiving to bumpy old walls and the finish looks more like real wallpaper. 

I choose a large block to print on my wall. In my trials the smaller detailed blocks lost their detail. This block is about to 5 inches in length.

I would suggest only printing on walls with wall board. You need some give to get full contact of the block to the wall. When you print on fabric block printers print on a padded surface. When I tested the block on my plaster walls the print barely showed up. Hard surface to hard surface does not work. Molly Mahon suggested for my plaster walls I look at potato stamping.

I used old matte latex paint to print because this project because it started as a trial and I used what I had lying around the house. Sometimes the scrappy method can yield the best results. I assume traditional block printing inks would work too.

Step 1 Paint your walls the base color (mine is similar to Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster)

Step 2 Pour your block color into a shallow painting tray and moisten a kitchen sponge. Wring out any excess water.  ( I used Farrow & Ball’s James White)

Step 3 Dab paint onto block using the moistened sponge. 

Step 4 Press block firmly to the wall. Spend your time experiencing with how hard you need to push. I pushed till I felt the give of the wall board behind the block.

Step 5 Decide on a repeat. I spaced mine by doing two rows at once. The first print starts one column. The second column dropped one full print staggering the image all the way down the column. Repeat across entire wall. 

I found working left to right was the easiest way to set up the pattern. Once you have a few rows printed you will start to see how things should line up. Make sure to line up the print vertically and horizontally. It won’t be a perfect repeat and mistakes are bound to happen but that’s part of the charm. 

Tips for loading paint onto blocks I put more paint then I thought was necessary to get a full print. Sometimes when I printed a pattern the paint looked too thick. But after drying it looked beautiful. If it’s really horrible you can go back with your base color and paint over and try again. But try not to fuss to much. Your eyes will naturally gravitate towards the full design. 

I printed up both sides of my stairwell and hallway. I did the project over a few day period but one wall came together rather quickly.  I am super happy with the results and I think it’s just as beautiful as wallpaper.

Here a few of my picks from the same shop I ordered from off Etsy. I found the blocks to be really nice quality and affordable. Shipping was quick and everything came well packaged.

Hand carved wood textile india block stamp 30, $5, etsy.com
Wood Block Stamp Flower 190, $10, etsy.com
Hand carved wood stamp 296, $15, etsy.com.
Carved Wood Stamp 124, $7, etsy.com.