How to Paint Herringbone on a Wall (and Live to Tell About It) *TUTORIAL*

I have a bad habit of taking forever to post about things. Just check out the “Favorites” listed in the right sidebar. Every one of those snippets begins with something to the effect of “Many eons ago before the world began.” (Maybe my bad habit is just discussing my tardiness in the beginning of my posts. Note to self.) Anyway, I’ve finally pulled together the tutorial for how we created our herringbone accent wall. Like I mentioned in the reveal post, our method was a bit simpler than the tutorials I perused as I tried to wrap my brain around this process. There was no trigonometry. Just simple addition. My English teacher brain likes that.

How to Paint Herringbone on a Wall (and Live to Tell About It)

How to Paint Herringbone on a Wall AND (say it with me)…LIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT

You’ll need:

  • painters tape (we used a combination of Scotch Blue 1” and Frog Tape 2”—the 2” wide tape is how we got away with simple addition and a simple layout)
  • paint
  • pencil
  • patience
  • peaches (It starts with P and I figured I had a nice little trend going there, so. Besides, peaches are delicious.)

1. Mark and tape your vertical lines. Start by measuring the width of your wall and dividing that width into equal vertical sections. The more sections you make, the more herringbone Vs there will be, and the skinnier they will be. I measured ours into 6 equal sections so that the whole design was centered on the wall, but you could be wild and crazy and do whatever you want. I’d recommend marking these measurements with pencil and then checking and re-checking your measurements BEFORE you put up tape and step back to find out the tape is crooked because your measurements were off. I am obviously not speaking from experience.

how to herringbone an accent wall_thumb[2]

2. Mark and tape your diagonals. Don’t be fooled by the brevity of this section’s title, because this is the most time-consuming part—and also where the process got tricky and I almost gave up. Luckily Rick came home from work right about when I was about to have a meltdown and eat an entire carton of ice cream, and together we returned the ice cream to the freezer and figured out a good plan of attack. Basically, what you have to figure out is how deep you want your V angles to be.

How to Paint Herringbone on a Wall

I wanted somewhere between the top two, so I put up the first piece of 2” Frog Tape (beginning at the top of one of the vertical lines of 1” tape) and just adjusted it until I got an angle I wanted.

how to paint herringbone on an accent wall

The next thing we had to measure was the distance between the left end of the tape and the ceiling so that we could replicate the same angle in the other vertical sections. For us, that distance ended up being 10”. (Again, this exact measurement will vary depending on how deep you choose to make your Vs.) I don’t have a picture of the next few steps but it looked something like this:

tutorial for painting a herringbone wall

From here, you do a lot of measuring. But because we used the 2” Frog Tape, our measuring was simple. There was no need to confusingly tape off the alternating sections like we had to when we painted stripes in our bathroom. And there was no need for trigonometry or other mind-numbing calculations. Using the 2” Frog Tape was key here because it allowed us to easily create a 2” space (that would stay white) between each desired V. Each of our exposed diagonals (that would be painted navy) was going to be 2.5” in width. Therefore, to determine where the second piece of tape needed to be placed, we simply measured down 2.5” from both ends of that first top piece of tape and marked it off in pencil on the 1” vertical blue tape.

herringbone wall tutorial

All of the remaining marks within a vertical section were made 4.5” from the previous mark (2” for the tape and 2.5” for the desired white space). As I was putting up the tape (Rick did all of the measuring/marking), I knew that the TOP of my piece of tape needed to line up with the pencil marks on the blue tape.

how to herringbone an accent wall (2)_thumb[2]

For those pesky pieces of top and bottom tape that touched the ceiling/floor versus the vertical lines (which means you can’t easily measure to the 2.5” mark), we just held up tape and eyeballed it until the angle seemed to match. This is where having a helper comes in handy (again).

herringbone tutorial

3. PAINT AND PEEL AWAY THE TAPE! The fun part. The part where you cover your eyes, cower in a corner, and maybe wet your pants a little in fear of the whole thing not turning out the way you wanted it to. Sort of like the first day of middle school. We painted one half of the wall at a time and worked quickly, applying a second coat just a few minutes after the first (the navy was too dark to get away with just one coat, but allowing either of the coats to dry would guarantee a messy, peeling edge when we removed the tape). Within a few minutes of applying the second coat, we removed the tape so that it wouldn’t peel the paint away.


And presto, a herringbone accent wall that took around six hours to create.

herringbone accent wall (3)

I think it would have taken less time if we had 100% known what we were doing—but as it was, we had some trial and error, and obvious breaks for peach-eating and cat-petting.


Before and after of the room? Okay. (For more details on this room’s progress and updates, go here and here.)

herringbone accent wall

We’re getting there. The only thing left before furniture is carpet. Orrrr we could just leave the floor as-is. It has sort of a rustic, shabby chic vibe.

How to Paint Herringbone on a Wall (and Live to Tell About It)


So…is your mind numbed? Truthfully, it’s a whole lot easier to do it than it is to explain it. It’s like the time I gave Rick and his family “great directions” to my college (via a route I had driven hundreds of times) and they ended up in West Wang-Doo, which was, incidentally, nowhere near my college. Oops.

*Linking up to Thrifty Décor Chick and Home Stories A to Z!*


  1. love this and great tutorial! thank you!

  2. This is an awesome tutorial! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. thank you for the tutorial! i would love to do this whenever we have a little one in the nursery to some extent. it looks so sharp!

  4. This is so stinking beautiful!! I’m working up a similar something for my dining room with navy paint! But I wish I had the patience for that much taping!! Yours look soooo cool!!

    1. That’s what husbands are for. ;) No, seriously, taping became sort of mindless after a certain point, so it didn’t bother me!

  5. That looks amazing! I absolutely love it! Way to go!

  6. I really like this! And I would have headed to the fridge for ice cream before you. Math is way over my head. especially when it comes to geometry.

  7. I also would have been on the floor eating the ice cream before my husband could help. It looks fantastic.

  8. I really really like this! I would really want to be patient enough to do it :P

  9. This is awesome! The finished product really shines - and you get serious props for the patience it takes to do it.

  10. Anonymous8/09/2013

    WOW! That looks absolutely amazing! I'm about to start decorating my bedroom and I'm imagining what this would look like done in two shades of plum. Now I'm really anxious to get started. Oh, and good job on the cat-petting breaks. I've found that's an integral part of decorating! :)

  11. That actually sounds like something *I* could do! I LOVE that accent wall. Your baby is going to be some kind of genius for all the brain stimulation that will give her.

  12. Oooohhhmygosh. Mind, numb! That's amazing though, it looks fantastic.

  13. wow!! that is awesome! it looks so good!!!

  14. Great tutorial and I love how it turned out!!

  15. What a great tutorial, Erin, and a wonderful finished product! I work with Cassity at Remodelaholic scheduling guests, and we would love to feature you and this wall! I usually email, but I couldn't find an email address for you... If you are interested in being featured, will you drop me a line at hello@remodelaholic.com? Thanks and have a great weekend!

  16. I'm about to embark on this journey in my daughters soon-to-be nursery. I don't have peaches, and can't drown myself in a bottle of wine (damn you pregnancy!), but I think these instructions will help save me from going Britney Spears 2007 and shaving my head or beating people with an umbrella. Thank you!! ;-)
    XO - Samantha


I love to hear from my readers, so don't be shy. :) Thanks for being here!

Want to read more?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...