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If your wall isn't already painted the desired color, select a shade that will work well with the colors you'll use for the stripes and accent design. For the wall shown here, soft beige is selected for the background. When you buy the paint, ask for matte-finish latex. Though a matte finish isn't usually the best choice for wall color, here it provides a flat background that allows the satin finish of the stripes to stand out. (The idea is to create the appearance of shiny ribbons.)
Choose a brush that has the same width you'd like for your stripes. Here the brush width is about one-and-a-quarter inches. For the stripes and accent design, purchase semi-gloss latex in each of the colors you'll need. To avoid overwhelming the room with your pattern, don't go overboard with bold, extra-vivid hues. If, however, you decide to use the stripes on only a portion of a wall -- beneath a chair rail, for example -- your colors can be stronger without dominating the space. All stripes don't have to be the same color -- multi-color stripes would work well in a variety of room styles.
Using a pencil and a level with a ruler on the side, lightly mark the starting point of each stripe along the top edge of the wall, making sure the points are evenly spaced. To prevent your design from becoming too "busy" and unsettling to the eye, space the stripes at least 10 to 12 inches apart. Although these stripes are intended to have a hand-applied, freeform look, the bottom point of each stripe should line up fairly close to its top/starting point. If you're worried that your lines may slant too much, mark corresponding points along the bottom of the wall as well.
Dip the tip of your brush into the color you've chosen for the stripes. Beginning at the first mark, brush on a wavy line (Image 1) that extends down the entire length of the wall. Leave gaps about four inches long at random intervals in the stripes (Image 2). These spaces will be filled with your accent design. As you apply the paint, the coverage will become thinner as you reach the end of a line. Keeping with the line of the stripe, brush additional paint over any see-through areas to achieve consistent coverage.
Once your stripes are in place, use smaller brushes to paint your accent designs in the spaces within each stripe (Image 1). A three-color flower design (Image 2) is featured here, but a variety of designs would work well for this application -- ballet slippers, moons and stars, nautical objects, or anything else. Just use your imagination and choose something that complements the room's decor. Once your accent designs have dried, add details to the pattern with paint pens (Image 3) for a special finishing touch.
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