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DIY hand painted “wallpaper” without a projector

I’ve been wanting wallpaper in my bathroom for quite some time, but honestly really didn’t want to spend the money on it.

I finally decided to attempt painting my own pattern up on the wall and am so glad I did! I’m so happy with how it turned out and I’m already brainstorming about where else I can use this technique. The wall cost me $11 (just for paint) and I’m convinced that anyone can do this project if you have the patience.

To transfer my pattern to the wall, I used the grid method. The grid method involves drawing a grid over your reference pattern, and then drawing a grid of equal ratio on your wall. Then you draw the pattern on your wall, focusing on one square at a time, until the entire pattern has been transferred. The grid method is an inexpensive, low-tech way to reproduce and/or enlarge an image from paper to the wall. While the process is not as quick as using a projector, it does have the added benefit of helping to improve your drawing skills and is able to fit into any space, even where a projector can not.

Step One: Pick your pattern!

If you want to do the same pattern I did, you can download the pattern with the grid overlay and the empty grid to practice drawing on paper before you go big. The pattern repeats from all sides, so it can easily fit any wall.

To repeat the pattern, just shift the square and keep going!

Step Two: Draw your grid.

I worked with a 6” grid and drew it on the wall lightly with mechanical pencil and straightedge ruler. I tested a few options for drawing the grid and the pencil was erasable with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, but ended up being a lot of elbow grease, so I ended up painting over the pencil lines in the end. If I were to do this again, I would use chalk and then scrub the wall clean at the end.

Step Three: Paint!

Reference your pattern and draw it right up on the wall! I used a small paint brush for this step so that I would have less pencil to clean up later. I made a few mistakes along the way, but just painted over with the base color. It’s really a very forgiving process and the best part of it is that the imperfections actually add so much character—it shows that you actually painted it up on the wall by hand!

My best advice for getting started on this project is to worry less about it being perfect and to not get too hung up on the outcome. Enjoy the process and remember that it’s just paint!

5 Comments

  1. Hi! I know this post is old but maybe you’re still monitoring it. Do you have any advice on doing this WITH a projector? Thank you!

    • That’s a great question! I have never used a projector myself, but I think your best bet without editing the pattern would be to enlarge it to cover your entire wall. I also promise that the grid method is easier than it looks if you’re up for it!

  2. […] cream vanity counter. I looked at several different hand painting options and finally decided this lovely leaf pattern that looked simple enough to execute on the opposite wall. I played with the scale until I thought […]


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