How to paint a herringbone wall

Remember how I posted this blank wall a while back?

And then I told you all about the renegade drummer in geometry?

Good thing he put down the drum sticks and paid attention in class.

Good thing he knows his way around the Pythagorean Theorem.

Good thing.

Because when you take drum sticks and math and a ruler and painter’s tape and mix them all together…..

….you get a wall that looks like this.

Ombre herringbone wall- after

All you need to re-create this project is a little paint, some painter’s tape and a little imagination.

And some patience, too. ūüôā

Here are the step-by-step directions to paint your own.

The wall- before

Step 1:  Measure and tape (this is where the patience comes in):

The key to measuring is to create a vertical line with the individual rectangles to create overall symmetry. ¬†If you look at the finished wall, you’ll notice that you can draw a vertical line from the bottom of the wall to the ceiling. ¬†In other words, all the vertical points of each rectangle are on the same line.

This is an important concept to remember because you want those vertical lines to be straight.

So measure once and then….wait for it….measure again.

Starter pattern template

(quick tip: ¬†Sometimes when I’m starting on a project like this, I create a starter template¬†rectangle¬†out of paper and tape it to the wall to give me a visual idea of what the overall scale and size of the pieces will be).

After several tries on different sizes, we decided that each rectangle in the pattern would be 5 inches high by 15 inches long.

The key in determining the size of the rectangle is to have it divisible by three.  For example, with our individual rectangle, each piece would be comprised of three 5-inch squares placed at an angle.  Each of these squares had a diagonal distance of roughly 7 inches.  When you break it down like that, the project is actually a series of smaller diamonds.

Start the project drawing the first 1/3 of the rectangle (smaller square turned like a diamond).  Mark a starting place in the middle of the wall with a pencil and, using a tape measure and a level, measure vertically down 7 inches.  Mark that spot with a pencil.  The second mark then becomes the bottom corner of the first diamond and the top corner of the next diamond.

Repeat this process all the way up and down the center of the wall, creating a vertical line of marks that are 7 inches apart.

I’ve drawn a diagram so it makes a little more sense.

How to space the herringbone pieces

Next, measure 5 inches down at a 45 degree angle from the first mark in each direction and mark to create the other corners of the first diamond, 7 inches apart.

The diagram above shows it visually.

Use a level to make sure all the marks are level before you continue.

This is a super important step.  All the other marks depend on these to be straight.

Continue with the same process, covering the wall with marks, each 7 inches apart horizontally and vertically.

Tape off the pattern for the wall

After you’ve finished marking the wall, it’s time to tape.

Start with the center mark and tape off three diamonds together moving downward and to the right. ¬†This forms a rectangle and this is your first herringbone piece. ¬†Move to the right 21 inches and tape off the second rectangle as shown. ¬†Continue taping, in the same manner, following your marks. ¬†When you are finished with that horizontal line, move down 14 inches and tape off another line in the same manner. ¬†As you tape, you’ll notice that you are actually taping off every, other rectangle, creating a chevron pattern.

This is the start of your herringbone wall.

Continue until the first layer of rectangles is taped off.

Now, it’s time to paint the first layer.

Painted rectangles

My favorite projects start and end with paint.

And paint for me starts with Sherwin-Williams (since my very first blank wall in my very first house).

Here are the colors we used:

SW 6244 Naval

SW 9176 Dress Blues

SW 2739 Charcoal Blue

SW 2740 Mineral Gray

Layering colors on the ombre wall

I fell in love with the color palette and chose most of the colors from¬†Pottery Barn‚Äôs¬ģ spring/summer color collection. ¬†I wanted to make the wall ombre, too, so I started with the darkest color (SW 6244 Naval) and layered in the other blues and grays going up the wall.

These pictures are of the first coat of paint.  Let this dry and add a second (and maybe even a third for the very darkest colors.

After you finish painting remove the tape and let the paint dry for at least 24 hours before the next step.

Paint a swatch before you paint the full rectangle

One quick tip.

We actually painted a swatch of the color on the wall before we painted in the entire rectangle (as shown).

This made sure that the colors made sense when we layered them.

The last layer of rectangles

You are now ready for your last layer of rectangles.

This step is so much simpler than where you’ve come from.

You got this.

You’re almost done.

Simply tape off the remaining blank rectangles with tape (as shown).

Mark the colors each of the rectangles with paint to blend into the current ombre pattern as shown above and then paint.

Remove the tape, touch up any places on the wall that need fixing.

Or fixin’ as we say in Kentucky.

A final look at the herringbone wall

Here’s one last look at the wall.

I sat on a chair and just stared at it in all of its herringbone glory.

Math has never looked so pretty. ūüôā

PS You can see some other fun painted wall ideas here.

disclosure:  This post was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

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  1. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    When I think of the mess I made painting my powder room, something like this would be off the charts. Plus it doesn't really go with an old French house. But here it looks VERY cool and I am in awe of your painting talent. I love the ombré aspect.

  2. Image for gina gina

    Had to read it a couple of times. Finally got it. But still don't know how you convinced the drummer to assist! That's a work of art!

  3. Image for Terri Terri

    Love Sherwin Williams colors and have Naval on my front door here in SW Florida! As for this beautiful wall, I think it is unbelievably amazing! You and yours get a Blue Ribbon for patience and creativity!

  4. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, my goodness! I never was good at geometry...this would have to be a "friend hold my hand" project! It looks amazing and I am sure if I stared at it long enough, cried long enough, and, again, had a friend hold my hand, I might make it...but for now...I will love my friend's wall.

  5. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I am truly amazed!! I have to bow down to genius and patience. I think ten minutes into the project I'd be bawling and stomping my feet in frustration, pulling at my hair, and heading to the fridge for the wine bottle -- forget the glass. I will leave this project to a Master and just keep my sanity. The wall is phenomenal. Have a fantastic weekend. ?

  6. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    And THIS is why I don't do complicated math-involved makes my head spin and the hairs on my neck stand up! Kudos to your drummer boy, and bouquets at your feet for not only making it look good, but for being able to write a how-to on it....and all the while that red lipstick was was leading the charge! You never fail to amaze, Miz karianne!

  7. Image for Lisa Lisa

    Your wall is stunning. I was never very good at math but your directions are so good that even the mathematically challenged like me might be able to pull it off. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Image for Marie Marie

    Omgosh, you have soooo much more patience than I do. It was totally worth it, though, because your wall looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing your makeover and tips with us at Merry Monday this week!

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