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Richmond, Virginia



Recreating a wallpaper design idea by hand

The finished project: planned to look random, the success of this project demanded expert knowledge of tape application and removal

I t’s been said that people are looking more and more toward customization, and this project fits that bill perfectly. Homeowner Erica Inge got her idea — a black-and-white styled wallpaper with irregular lines, angles and squares — from a home décor website. Her wall, while inspired by the original photo, would take a direction of its own. She consulted with Stacey Spear, owner of S&S Painting in Mechanicsville, Virginia, and they came up with a plan to create a one-of-a-kind hand-painted design

Spear’s one of these people who thinks math is fun, and she put her skills to use devising a pattern of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines — making each square completely unpredictable. Next came the challenge of selecting the right shades of black and white paint, then making sure the lines coincided properly with the window casings and door trim in the room. Along with what she called “a phenomenal black,” Spear chose a white with green undertones to add some warmth to the design.

The job hinged on really understanding how to apply and remove tape. “When using tape for painting specific designs, you can measure out the wall down to the centimeter, but the width of the tape is important and often not taken into consideration,” said Spear. Through experience with projects like these, Spear knew she needed to add 1.88 centimeters for every horizontal piece of tape and then subtract it back out. Great fun for a math geek!


This project was a college course in applying tape.


The crew makes sure to protect what's below before they paint what's above.


The S&S Painting crew.


Whitewashing the brick on the fouth wall in the room helped unify the design.

The finished project, a unique room for the client!

was essential to keep the look random and natural and to prevent gloppy edges on all the lines. They used a laser level to design the horizontal and vertical lines. The focus was on measurement and tape placement, ensuring all the final squares were the same size. After completing the horizontal and vertical lines, they began on the diagonals. If something didn’t look right, they would peel and re-tape.

After the tape was applied, they painted another coat of black over the top to prevent bleeding. The team then applied two coats of white paint, making a total of four coats

Removing the tape was a painstaking process involving five employees. Each piece had to be located under three coats of paint, then delicately removed while the paint was still wet, without letting it touch the wall or anything else so it wouldn’t mess up the hard work they’d just completed. For that alone, they should get this TOP JOB award!

Though it wasn’t a part of the homeowner couple’s initial plan, Spear noticed the brick on the fourth wall did not match the design well. She suggested a whitewash on the brick, using the same white used in the rest of the room. This provided a warm and cozy contrast to the bold design of the other walls. Spear gives credit to the extensive training and steady hands of her all-woman painting team. APC

Key Products

  • FrogTape
  • 3M tape
  • Automobile tape
  • Sherwin-Williams paint