Masthead header

Stuff we’ve done 1: Bathroom Stripes

I thought I would add some of the projects we completed before I started this blog. This first post is about the stripes we painted on the wall of our littlest room!


Small spaces do not a straight photo make…

Sometime in the summer, I don’t remember when, I decided to paint stripes in our downstairs cloakroom. There was a fairly big buildup to this – deciding on the colours we would have, width and number of stripes, the best tape to use and how I’d get the tape up and straight. Etc etc. Lots of decisions for a rookie DIY-er like me!

I’m super pleased with the end result – the lines are straight and really crisp thanks to a few techniques I picked up on the way that I’ll explain later in this post. I’m also especially happy because I did this and I did it all by myself. As little Zeddy would say, “I did-did-did it!”.

The room was magnolia previously and had been for over 6 years so was starting to look tired. I don’t have any ‘before’ pictures of this room – the first pics of the room itself below are really ‘during’ pictures. It’s a shame I can’t show you proper ‘before’ pictures, despite it needing a lick of paint, this room has always really been the main talking point of the house…. the smallest room has the biggest impact! It was unique in its choice of wall art….

This picture doesn’t do it justice but is the best I can offer as to what the room might have looked like before I painted a load of stripes in it:

Imagine these guys on a magnolia background… that’s pretty much what it looked like!

YES! Loads of mirrors baring the image of the King himself, Elvis. The King in the throne room etc tee-hee-hee… I could go on with the crass humour, but won’t!

I’m not sure how this happened, but over a period of 5 or 6 years, we collected a whole bunch of these vintage Elvis picture mirrors. Actually, I *do* remember, it’s just come to me – it was because of the larger picture in the image below:

During – with a coat of white, but no stripes yet.

We got this guy for the spare room of JB’s flat to smarten it up when it went on the market. (Quick memory share: When we bought it, the lady on the cash desk said “Oh, I love Elvis, he was so beautiful”, and spent a little moment admiring our newest purchase. Ain’t it funny, the little things you remember?)

Anyway, somehow it just grew from there. When we bought our current house we thought it would be fun to hang this first Elvis pic in the downstairs loo, and then ended up becoming a fun thing to trawl Ebay for these old vintage picture mirrors, to try to find just the right thing, but more importantly, at the right price. It was just a bit of fun after all, no need to spend megabucks, something great always turned up eventually.

So when it came to the stripes, down the mirrors came, the nail holes got filled and I painted the whole room white. Here’s another ‘during’ shot, where the walls are white, but no stripage just yet.

We already had this really cute baroque/rococo style mirror which is distressed and shabby in real life but that doesn’t show too good in the picture, so I decided that as well as the stripes, the overall look I was going for was a little bit of glamour, to complement the mirror, which given the size of the room (at a guess 2m x 1m? Maybe a touch bigger) was the main decorative focal point. Also, we knew Elvis was going to live on in the bathroom in some way or another; And Elvis deserves a bit of glamour, don’t he? Ah huh huh.

So, yes, the walls were painted white, and I also repainted the skirting/base board and door frame which white gloss. I just lightly sanded the old paintwork and painted over it rather than strip it down. As we are the only people who have ever lived in this house, we know these trims havent been painted over dozens of times. The surface itself was in okay condition, it was just needed a little refresh!

For a while we lived with this plain white bathroom, which was already felt lovely and bright after the old magnolia. I also needed to gather my confidence and research technique, as I wanted to get it right first time. I’m a perfectionist.

A few weeks later, the urge to paint returned and I completed the stripes over a few days (as you know, most of my painting gets done in chunks. I do as much as I can, when I can).

So you’ve already seen the end result, here are some notes on how I went about this project, particularly how I got such clean lines, and further down are a couple of ‘during’ snaps.

Heres what I did:

1.  Research – I must stress this if you’re considering something similar yourself. Make sure you have a plan!

My main source of knowledge was from Centsational Girl, another favourite blogger of mine. who created an incredibly helpful and detailed post using some great images for eye-candy and inspiration, but most importantly, a round-up of reader tips on painting stripes and links to some other great tutorials, all of which I read and thought hard about before starting out. The other bloggers that helped give me confidence and belief that I could do this and do it well were John and Sherry at Young House Love whose striped half-bath project was similar in scale and colour scheme (although mine took a wee bit longer than the 4 hours theirs took, but hey, I’m just one girl!).

2.  Measure, measure and measure again before taping or painting. From memory, the width of my stripes was 24cms – I’d decided on 9 stripes, 5 white and 4 cream (you gotta do an odd number so the top and bottom stripes are the same, its more harmonious) and this was a nice even division when I’d measured the total length of the wall. The first thing I did was measure at 24cm points up the wall at intermittent points around the room. Then I did some checking and found I’d made some mistakes. Call it rushing, sleep deprivation or just plain dizziness, but I had not measured properly in a couple of places. So I had to have a couple of go’s at this before it was even time to put up tape.

3.  Tape – trust your eye. One of my brothers works in the building trade. He draws up the technical plans for structures, and people take those drawings and use them to build a building! Or something. Anyways, he told me that even if something is ‘level’ e.g. the spirit level tells you it is… what matters most is how the eye perceives it. I found this to be true when I’d taped up a section which the spirit level told me was straight, but it just looked wrong. So I did make one or two modifications when it came to taping up. I trusted my instinct and it turned out pretty good. I found my stride and after a slow start it got done in good time.

4. Painting white on white for a crisp edge. This took me a little while to wrap my head around. This was something that Centsational Girl’s post said in a few different ways and turned out to be the most useful in terms of getting a good result. I applied my tape to the white wall, then with the same white paint, I painted along the tape edge of what would eventually become the cream stripe. The white paint bleeds under the tape and creates a seal. Then when this was touch dry I painted over it with the cream paint, and filled in the whole stripe. When the tape was removed, the cream paint was a beautiful straight clean edge as the extra white edging I’d added first didn’t allow the cream paint to seep under.

Confused? I was at first, but I followed Centsational Girl’s reader tips to the letter and it clicked. And it worked!

5. Take that tape down now! As mentioned in YHL’s post, tape holding dry paint will pull chunks of paint with it if it’s taken off the wall. I took my the tape before the cream paint was dry. This was key.

And that’s it. It took a lot of brain power and the prep work took me a while, but once I had got going it was actually quite easy. I’m in love with the impact of these stripes, in such a small room, they do make a grand statement!

First taped stripe

Assignment complete!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *