before and after · DIY · Painting

See the wallpaper forest AND the painted trees

I adore paint. There are so many solutions for decorating problems in the form of liquid colour. You can paint almost anything. People have joked that if it’s in my house and it’s not moving, it’s fair game!

There are actually two design lessons here, and although I’ll be focusing more on one, I will give a quick run down on the second since it’s easy to do and a great way to define a space as well.

We’ve all seen the beautiful treed wallpaper in all the Decorating magazines and websites and if you’ve checked at all you’ll also see that it comes at quite a cost.

Houzz tree wallpaper

This photo courtesy Houzz

Well, here is my take on it done entirely with a piece of chalk, one 2 oz bottle of white craft paint and a 2 oz bottle of black craft paint. Keep in mind this is a small wall, and although I’ve done entire rooms and accent walls in this treatment for clients, if you are a newbie, I would try it on a smaller scale for the first go. It also makes stunning artwork if you want to try it on canvas first.


If you wanted, you could use premixed bottles of grey craft paint as well, but I find mixing my own with the black and white paint gives you plenty of shades of grey (don’t go there) that you’ll need. You’d be surprised at how far those 2 oz bottles will go. I had lots left over. My grey wall was done as a previous project, if you want the same colour blocking, just tape off the area and paint it what ever colour you want first, making sure you wait at least 4 hours before you start with the trees to make sure it’s dry.

Do not be intimidated by this project!  You don’t really need any artistic talent to get a good result.  To start, draw the trees shapes with a piece of chalk directly on the wall. The chalk can be wiped off if you don’t like how it’s going. I have also used a watercolor pencil when drawing things out since it washes away too, and they come in many colours so you can also blend the lines right into the paint. Don’t worry too much about the little branches at this point, just get the larger shapes.

IMG_1646  I have put checkmarks on the parts that I need to paint in. Sometimes all those lines can be confusing. Next step, squirt some white paint into a container or paper plate that you can hold at the same time while you’re painting.  Starting from the top and working down, paint in the trees one by one. If you do all the tops first and work your way down, you could be left with a lot of start and stop lines since the paint dries so quickly. You also don’t need to paint  it so heavily that it is entirely opaque, the bits of see through can look ethereal. Paint your twigs at this point.

IMG_1663 Next come the bits of grey and black. Be RANDOM!  With your brush, mix a teeny bit of black with the white. Keep your brush a bit wet and blend the grey into the joints where the branches meet the tree and also along the edge of the tree that you decide is the part that wouldn’t get light in the forest, adding white or black if needed as you go. Don’t switch this back and forth, keep it all right side of tree or left side of tree. Like real life. The black spots are as a Poplar or Birch tree has. I just dabbed straight black here and there.

Since it’s a front entry, I added a mirror. Somewhere down the line it will be replaced with a chunkier one, or maybe I’ll just paint the frame glossy yellow. Hmmmmmmmm.

This project cost about $4.00 and a few hours time. Remember, if you hate it, you can paint right over it! If you have any questions about this project, or the colour blocking, ask away!

Quick lesson #2: Below is the before picture of my front entry. I had colour blocked the two walls for a bit of interest and space definition in this area. It’s a good way to define an area without having to paint the entire wall.

before front entry


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