DIYdiy projects

diy project: laurie’s herringbone wall design

by Kate Pruitt

I have a small entryway that’s been screaming for attention, but I’ve procrastinated fixing it up because frankly, I’m stumped for ideas. This wall design from Laurie has me feeling thankful that I dragged my feet; my sad little entryway is about to experience the magical healing power of herringbone! Every decision Laurie’s made elevates this design to remarkable chicness. The combination of textured milk paint and smooth gloss finish, the over-sized scale of the pattern and the subtle taupe-and-cream color palette have me wishing I could wear this wall — I’d be the most fashionable girl on the street. This project is perfect for the fall season, easy enough to tackle in a weekend and far cheaper than even one roll of wallpaper. I can’t wait to try it out myself. Thanks for sharing, Laurie! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Call it what you want — chevron or herringbone, this zig-zaggy pattern has climbed obsessively into my subconscious. I’m drawn to its frisky impertinence in rugs, fabrics, dishes and linens. I’ve seen several wallpapers with chevron-inspired patterns, but every time I really loved one I couldn’t seem to track down who made it. I’ve been imagining it in a slightly laid back, weathered application, to fit in with my wood-filled Spanish style home in LA. Last week, I took to painting my entryway in a two-toned milk paint and clear gloss chevron pattern and it was surprisingly painless! Barb provided a great overview on milk paint and all its awesome artistic capabilities. Milk paint is a chemical free, moody paint that lends age and character to the stuff you apply it to. A new product called SafePaint has been re-worked for greater ease of use on wall surfaces. Enjoy! — Laurie


  • one quart bag of  SafePaint
  • 0ne quart of clear gloss to go over water-based paint
  • foam roller and roller tray
  • one roll of 1” blue tape
  • 3” brush and plastic paint pail
  • two cups of water (this is a departure from the suggested mix)
  • a drop cloth and ladder
  • kitchen timer

Cost: $60

Time: 5 hours


Taping the Wall:

1. Find the middle of the wall and tape a straight line down the center. A pattern like this in a small space really benefits from some symmetry. For my wall, it worked best to divide the wall again, resulting in four equal vertical wall sections. Here’s where the personal part happens: how steep do you want your chevrons to be? Each of my Vs ended up being 17” wide and 9” tall from point to point.  This made for a more subtle pattern, as opposed to a more perky and modern herringbone (17” wide and 17” tall).

2. Starting at the ceiling, mark off every 9” and tape from one little mark diagonally down to the one below it. Repeat this angle from the top to the bottom of each row, until the entire row is complete.

Note: The tape lines will be part of the design, which I like. You could alter this pattern to get rid of the vertical tape lines, keeping only the zigzags (a more modern look I think) by drawing and erasing vertical lines on the actual wall and measuring out your 9” sections on the wall. Then begin taping the diagonals off without any vertical tape lines.

Painting the Design

1. For a thick, even consistency, combine SafePaint and water and stir for five minutes or so. I used a paint stir stick and smashed the lumps against the side of my plastic paint pail. You can short the mixture a ¼ cup of water if you want the paint really thick. To improve the consistency, set a kitchen timer for one hour and put the lid on the pail.

2. When applying the paint, you want to “go with the grain” of the pattern, painting the lines at the same angle as the chevron to keep the eye moving up and down in the same direction. Always start at the top of the point and work your way down.

3.  The paint will dry very quickly. One coat of the paint has visible brush strokes in it, but I liked the texture it added to the design, so I chose not to apply a second coat.

4. Next, take a foam roller with the high gloss clear coat to the alternating spaces, being careful not to touch the roller to the drying SafePaint. Try to find a clear gloss formulated to go over flat wall paint, which helps it to adhere well to the wall. Be careful, though: the gloss paint adhered so well, I had a terrible time opening the can!

5. Wait about an hour in between coats of the gloss. When it is dry to the touch, peel back all the blue tape and admire the results.


Suggested For You


  • That wall is amazing – thank you so much for the how-to! It is definitely going on my to-do list.

    On another note, I think the link to the full article is broken. Clicking the large ‘Click Here for the full how-to’ link leads to a page-not-found, but clicking on the smaller ‘read more’ text works to get to the full post. I couldn’t find any contact info for technical problems, so I hope it’s okay to post this here.

  • Woo! I LOVE IT. I have been day dreaming of doing herringbone in my house- but always worry about how to tape it. You’re re-inspiring me!

  • Oh my gosh! I love this wall! I’m really into chevron pattern right now, so this is awesome! Congrats to Laurie for being so patient with taping off the wall! :)

  • Thanks Justina! Realized when I looked back at the pictures that my stripey shirt might have been a little much on the stripes :) Thank you for the kind words.

    Lafayette and Jamie – it really couldn’t be much easier to do yourself. Once you put up the center line and work your way out, it’s really palatable. The whole thing, including much silly standing back and admiring stuff, took less than a day!

    Thanks again Kate for including me in Design*Sponge!

  • oh heavenly. not sure the hubby will go for it, but it is heavenly just the same…

  • wow, such a statement!! i love how this makes such an impact while using neutral colors. this might have to be my next big apartment project… hmmm…

  • @Sarah Clark – my honey wasn’t sure about it until he saw the final results. He proclaimed it ‘geometric and cool’ … whew!

    @cailen @mimi @shannon Thanks for the luv :)

    @Sarah@StyleandCentsability it really is a great alternative for those nervous about wallpaper or living in an apartment. To paint over it, you’d just use a good primer like Kilz and your herringbone would be a fond memory…

  • Awesome! I love the unique zig zag design and nice choice with the natural colors …keeps the design polished and not over the top.

  • Wow! I love this design! It has spurred on my plans for redoing my living room and dining room. The herringbone pattern has that great 1930’s art deco vibe that I want for that room–thankyouthankyouthankyou!

  • I LOVE THIS! I have an entryway where I was considering stripes, but now I’m absolutely doing this instead. Looks like a pretty easy project to tackle and the result is fantastic! Thank you!

  • Hello,
    We were so inspired that we tried it out. Unfortunately, our walls were textured, which made the lines slightly sloppy :( would recommend doing this only on smooth walls.

  • I have totally been trying to decide wether to paint my dining table in a chevron print or the wall! thanks for the tips….I was a little nervous about how to tape things off! PAINT TIP: for those of you with semi rough walls, not totally smooth. if you will tape everything off, then do a quick coat of the original paint color at all tape edges, once you paint milk/gloss coats tape should pull of beautifully and straight!

  • wonderful work! i can imagine this on one wall in my bedroom!

    do you think this would work on a textury plaster wall? (i.e. would the tape lay well enough to really act as a stencil?)

  • I was so inspired by this that painted it on a wall in my living room. I absolutely love it and my guests just stare at it in awe. Thanks for the wonderful idea!

  • this is so cute! i’m just a little confused… how did you get the line in between the white and dark yellow to be a little lighter? Did the clear make the darker yellow darker than the color used to make the lines?

  • I did this pattern in my living room behind my tv and bookshelves. It’s adorable and everyone comments on how much they like it. Thanks for the idea!

  • I’m doing this in my living room (our first home!) right now after dreaming about it since this was first posted. We are using a soft blue green (milkpail by martha) and creamy white though, so let’s hope it still looks as good.

  • this is the best. i had such a fabulous time making my chevron wall thanks to you! i kept it to just gloss on mine to keep things really subtle.

  • LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. needed a little “how to” for this exact kind of project, and leave it do design sponge to rock it. thanks so much! xo

  • You guys rock! Please post pictures of your walls!

    I have to update this post too – did my Mom’s dining room in a gorgeous tone on tone version – it looks great in every style of home!

    I want to see the ‘just gloss’ version!

  • LOVE LOVE this and planning to do it in our nursery on one wall. One question: what color was your wall to begin with – white? light tan? It almost looks like there are three colors going on — white, tan and darker gold/tan. thanks!

  • Hi! Just wanted to thank you for the inspiration! I loved your herringbone wall & it was just the inspiration I needed when I was deciding what to paint on the new giant canvas I got for over my desk. I posted about it today if you want to check it out. Thanks again, Sarah

  • Hi Laurie! Thank you for inspiring me. I just finished this project on two walls in my studio apartment in NYC. I must admit, I was nervous the whole time (gloss on the wall?). This was the first time I ever painted a wall! But, I followed your directions to the T and found the results to be truly outstanding. I’ll post pictures soon!

  • Hi! I am going to use your design to decorate the area above a bed and had a quick question. The wall is already painted a light (but strong) blue. I want the chevrons to be alternating white and dark grey. I am going to paint the entire section one solid color first to start, but don´t know if it would be better to do that with the grey or white. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Katie-I know this is 4 years ago by now, but do you happen to know the color names that you used? I’m loving the gold’ish tones and hues–and the cream color as well. Thanks!