We ran across the idea of using different finishes of paint as vertical contrast stripes. We decided to give this technique a try in the master bedroom.

We painted contrast stripes on the 12 foot wall behind our bed, to lend a bit of distinction in lieu of a headboard. Using the exact same color as the walls (yet a different finish for the stripes) adds a subtle texture that looks both elegant and funky at the same time.


- paint in a highly contrasting finish (our walls are flat, so we chose a high gloss paint)
- painters tape (we used 1/2″, if you are a more spastic painter pick a wider tape)
- good quality paint brush (we used a 1″ straight brush)
- ruler
- pencil


- Move all furniture out of the room or away from the walls. Cover any furniture left in the room to prevent paint mishaps.

- Create a plan for your contrasting stripes. Do you want them uniformly spaced? Do you want a lot of stripes, or just a few? Do you want all the stripes to be the same width, or random widths? We decided to have a moderate number of stripes, all different widths, placed non-uniformly on the walls.

- From any corner or wall-end, measure the distance you’d like the first stripe to start. Create a small pencil tick mark. Repeat this step a half dozen times from up near the ceiling to down near your baseboard. You will now have a row of vertical (and straight) tick marks.

- Starting at the ceiling, use your painters tape to connect-the-dots between the pencil tick marks. The goal is to have a straight strip of painters tape from ceiling to floor.

- From the inside edge of your installed strip of painters tape, measure how wide you’d like the stripe, and repeat the previous two steps. You’ll now have two strips of tape that look like this :

- Repeat the above three steps until you have taped out your entire wall.

- As you can see from the image above, we tag teamed and painted as we put up tape. You can do it this way, or tape your entire room first.

- Time to paint! Make sure your tape is pressed down tight against the wall (especially if you have textured walls). Using a generous amount of paint, fill in between your taped stripes from ceiling to floor. To avoid any paint leakage under the tape, paint over the tape with your paintbrush as straight on as you can manage.

- Let paint dry before putting on a second coat. We recommend putting on two coats for an even look.

- After you put on the second coat – but before the paint dries – peel off your painters tape from bottom to top. Doing this before the second coat dries will help make sure that the paint doesn’t peel off with the tape.

- Voila! Sit back and enjoy your subtle texture stripes. (Ignore the random striping on the ceiling, there is a method to the madness here. It won’t look like that for long!)

Our inspiration came from Design Star, and one video tutorial that was particularly helpful was from Young House Love, and can be found here.

What We Were Listening To

Ray Lamontagne : Till the Sun Turns Black
Kings of Leon : Only By The Night

Update : Pssst! Want to see how our bedroom is looking these days (we even fixed the ceiling stripes you see above!)? Check out images here, and blog posts here, here and here.

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