before and after

before & after: painted patterned rug

by Kate Pruitt

I love it when people discover a technique and then run with it, pushing themselves and their work to amazing places. Such is the case with Holly Westhoff and her painted rug methods. We shared one of her first painted rug designs last year; it was a lovely geometric pattern that reminded me of Jonathan Adler or Hollywood Regency style rugs. Today, she’s taken her rug painting skills to whole new level. After covering the entire surface of a simple Ikea rug with tape, Holly proceeded to measure and cut out shapes from the tape until she was left with this intricate stripe design. It’s op-arty in the best way, and looks so professional—you’d never guess it started as a plain vanilla rug. Keep up the experimentation, Holly! We can’t wait to see what you do next :) —Kate

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Read the full post after the jump…

Time: 7 hours (6 hours to tape and cut design, 1 hour to paint)

Cost: $100 ($60 for rug, $40 for paint, tape, and fabric medium)

Basic Steps: First I covered the entire rug in scotch green tape placing the pieces horizontally and very close to each other. I then used a square photo frame as my guide for tracing and cutting the design carefully with my xacto. After that I removed every other strip of tape within each square going horizontally and then added vertical stripes of tape in every other square.  once I finished taping the design I mixed the paint with the fabric medium and rolled on with a 3″ paint roller. The rug is an Ikea Erslev rug, the interior flat latex paint and scotch green masking tape are from Home Depot, and the fabric medium is from Dick Blick art store.

My advice is to be patient during the taping process! Don’t stress about any flaws because it will still be pretty cool looking as the pattern is intense enough to hide them. Also be sure to use the fabric medium with the flat latex paint because it makes all the difference in the feel of the finished item! Don’t use the blue painters tape; scotch green masking tape has a much stronger stick and adheres really well to the rug and is what helps the project to be a big success! —Holly


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  • i like it but it reminds me of those trippy ‘you stare at it too long and it moves and makes you nauseous’ things

  • Amazing! Quite the visual effect! And great inspiration for those of us who really really really want to try customizing a rug!!! :)

  • wow! As someone whom has tried to paint geometric designs on a dresser, I can totally appreciate this. She must have loads of patience! These are really cool.

  • Love this! I have a plain white rug that I have to do this to now… I’m thinking maybe Chevron…It definately will be my next Naptime Warrior project:) Thanks for the Before and After!

  • Op art is right! This is a fantastic DIY on a rug.

    I always have trouble finding patterned rugs I like, and this is very inspiring.

  • I love this and may just go grab some fabric medium this afternoon to try this at home! I have the perfect candidate – bland, flat, boring and calling out for paint.

  • I did a DIY painted rug and used all the same things, latex paint included. However after months the rug starts to get a little dingy, but how do you wash it? You can’t right? Or am I mistaken? No one ever explains the upkeep for these.

  • This is really great! I really appreciate the tips about fabric medium and green tape, too. Nicely done AND nicely presented and described :)

  • Kait, I’m having the exact same problem. I’ve tried using white vinegar (didn’t work) and was thinking of trying to hose it down (with a little force). This would be really helpful; thanks!

  • Wow, Holly! This looks great! I’m definitely going to try this sometime. Thanks for leaving such detailed instructions for the rest of us to follow in your footsteps!

  • Holy Mackarel! That is very impressive! I wonder if I’d have the patience to create something of this magnitude!

  • Beautiful work! I’m wondering if a rug with this treatment would hold up to the rigors of kitchen traffic and can you feel a texture difference when you walk on it.

  • Such a cute pattern! How do you keep the white areas looking white? Do you do anything to protect the surface? I used the same erslev rug to create a really fun chevron pattern with Ikat inspired border, however in just a few weeks the white parts looked Terrible! And it wasn’t even in a heavy traffic area. Just wondered if you ran into the same problem, or had any ideas as to how to combat it. Another benefit to painting your own rug is, when you get tired of one side, flip it over and start again!

  • thanks for sharing this great idea and technique! it gives me a lot of ideas. i’m going to try it. now all i need is some zen-like patience.

  • Does anyone know what the long term durability will be like? I have a rug now that was done differently and the pattern after 6 years has started to come off the felt rug-almost peeling off. I am thinking I will use this technique to go back over the current circles pattern on my worn rug. I love your rugs, they are very inventive, colorful and fun.

  • Thanks for the nice compliments! To answer some of your questions – pamela- the great thing about this cotton flatwoven rug and paint mixed with fabric medium is that the paint soaks into the rug and the chances of peeling are slim to none. Liz- I do not have my painted rugs in high traffic areas and don’t have kids or pets so simply vacuuming mine keep them looking great. I haven’t experienced anything becoming dingy. Suzanne – I do not have an Etsy store but thank you for asking! And to the folks asking about washing the rugs in a machine I have never needed to but suppsedly with the fabric medium mixed with the paint you should be able to. I have never tested for myself so I can’t say what the results would be. And thanks to everyone who complimented my hot pink vintage chair. I love it too!

  • What do you mean paint mixed w/fabric medium and how is that done? Was the chair difficult to do? Did it require more than one application? Your art is unquestionable, your talent undenyable and your patience and focus inspiratonable. Thank you for showing that one is only limited by a fear to start….!