Is your home plagued with stark, white walls? Conquer those blah walls with paint. One of our recent "Janes-in-training" was battling bare...

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Is your home plagued with stark, white walls? Conquer those blah walls with paint.

One of our recent “Janes-in-training” was battling bare white walls and two adjacent rooms that would work better as one. Fed up with living like a plain Jane, she was ready to go bold with paint. When we say bold, we don’t mean the color. We decided to paint wide, horizontal stripes in slightly green hues. The color spruces up things while the lines create movement, making the two rooms look like they are one. Plus, the stripes worked with the home’s contemporary décor.

What paint colors you go with is up to you. We chose a light green for our base coat with a similar, darker color for the stripes. The bigger the difference between the two colors, the more dramatic the look.

The key to a successful paint job is the prep work, so follow these steps carefully to save time and avoid headaches.

1. Using blue painter’s tape, mask off all adjacent surfaces, such as the baseboards and the ceiling. Cover the floor and nearby furniture with drop cloths, taping them down if necessary.

You also may want to wear a painter’s outfit (available at home-improvement centers) to protect clothing. A hat or scarf is also recommended; paint can linger in your hair for weeks!

2. Before you get to the fun stuff, prep the walls with a coat of primer. The primer will allow the base coat to go on more smoothly, make the finished product look better and extend the life of your paint job.

Project list

This project, including prep work and drying time, will take about 2 days to complete. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.


• Rollers

• Brushes

• Laser level


• Paint-friendly latex caulk

• Primer

• Paint

• Drop cloths

• Protective clothing

3. Check the drying time on the primer; you should be able to start applying a base coat within a couple of hours. Stir the paint thoroughly before applying. Apply the paint to the wall with rollers, but use a brush on the edges where the walls meet the ceiling. “Cutting in” (painting just the surface you want and not adjacent areas) with a brush will give you more control and a straighter line than a roller can provide.

4. Apply a second base coat once the first one has dried.

5. Once your base has dried, you are ready to begin preparing to paint stripes. You can use a window or other feature in the room to determine where the lines would go, or you can simply measure a wall and divide it into even stripes.

6. To ensure perfectly straight lines, we used a laser level. A laser level shines a straight line across the room that you can use as a guide to place your tape. A laser level will bounce around corners so that you can tape adjacent areas at the same time. Don’t get us wrong — you will probably still need to do some measuring. Tape the walls.

7. Ready for the trick on how to paint perfect lines? Once the tape is on the wall, go over the edges with paintable latex caulk. You won’t need a lot — just a thin layer will suffice to insure that the paint inside of your lines doesn’t seep under the tape and onto your base coat.

8. Wait for the caulk to dry (follow the manufacturer’s instructions). When it’s time, paint in the stripes with your complementary color.

9. Carefully remove the tape while the paint is still wet to avoid chipping. Pull the tape off in a smooth, angular motion. If you feel a second coat is crucial, remove the tape after the first coat, let that coat dry, and then tape and paint again.

Now you are linear!

Be Jane is an occasional home-improvement feature in digs. It’s adapted from, the online community created by Heidi Baker and Eden Jarrin.