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Metallic Gold and Soft Green Walls – a DIY paint alternative to pricey wallpaper

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by Robin

We’ve never had a powder room before.  I’ve always wanted one – they just sound classy – a room just for POWDERING things!  How decadent!  I hardly know what to powder (my nose? my wig? donuts?), but I wanted to join the powder room club.

But beyond that silly thought – I’ve often admired the advice from decorating shows: the powder room is the smallest room in your house – treat it like a jewel box – you can splurge on an expensive wallpaper – even on a small budget! 

Splurge on a budget!?!  That’s right in my wheelhouse.

Last month when we turned closet (with no rough-in!) into a basement bathroom I was thrilled to follow that advice. 

I went searching for the perfect wallpaper – price be damned!  I’m making a Jewel Box.  After careful searching, I found one I loved.  It was this Farrow and Ball Wallpaper.  It was going to look lovely: graceful, organic, classic but still modern.  I was sold.

And then I checked the price.  $350 per roll!  I’d need at least 2. 

That’s $700 just for wallpaper!!!  What?!?!  That’s not going to happen.  I couldn’t even afford enough of this wallpaper to decorate an actual jewel box.

So, it called for some creativity.  And after some searching, I came up with a much more affordable alternative – which I love even more!  Home Depot liked my idea too and gave us a gift card to cover our costs!

Our project turned out more beautiful than I even pictured.

Here are the details on our budget-friendly alternative to elegant designer wallpaper.  It’s modern and graceful and soft green and shimmery gold…

modern leaf stencil
This modern leaf stencil from StencilsLabNY couldn’t be more perfect!


metallic gold paint for walls
BEHR MARQUEE 1 gal. #T18-10 Wabi-Sabi Eggshell Enamel Interior Paint and Primer in One

NEW! ⇒ If a Video Tutorial is more your style – scroll to the bottom – we’ve got a video there for you!


metallic gold paint for walls
Tape off anything you don’t want to be painted.

What I wish I knew: the gold paint is VERY splattery.  Cover all surfaces you don’t want gilded.  We were able to scrape splatters off the sink and toilet – but the floating wood vanity countertop was much more difficult.  Don’t make our mistake!
best metallic gold paint for walls
Paint your gold base coat.

The coverage is very thin – it took 3 coats and it still wasn’t “perfect”.  But, we weren’t going for perfect, we liked the handpainted look – it’s Character!  (If that’s not your thing – 4 coats will do it.)
I started in the middle of the focal wall.  The goal was to have the pattern centred.

I knew if the pattern went around the two corners asymmetrically it would bug me forever.
This large stencil was very floppy.  What worked best was to spray the repositionable adhesive on the back and hold the top up with painter’s tape.  I then smoothed out the design by hand.   

I tried a stencil brush – but the space was pretty large to cover and it took way too long.  So a small roller did the job best.
Corners!  My nemesis.

I may have had to send our daughter upstairs while I did the corners.  I was so frustrated and invented swear words that would make a drunken sailor blush.  

I didn’t even know I had such crassness in me.  😉
(Kidding…I totally knew.)

What I learned about how to stencil corners:

  • Watch a video for tips.
  • I watched this one.  (But, know that it is so much harder than it looks! If I’d known how hard mere mortals find stencilling corners, I think I would have been less frustrated with my lack of skill.)
  • Repositionable adhesive is your friend.
  • Don’t leave the store without it.  (Our beautiful large scale design was floppy, a smaller rigid stencil may not require it.)
  • Line up your stencil pattern on either side of the corner.  Paint as close as you can into the corner – and expect to touch up the lines with a small paintbrush afterwards.
  • Better yet – consider just doing an accent wall!
  • Then you just tape the wall alongside your accent wall and you won’t cry while you do this.  (Yeah, this stressed me out tons and I may have teared up from acute stress.  But – it was WORTH IT!)
Corners need touch ups.  Some other spots will too.

Accept this as a fact and you’ll be less frustrated. 
An artist’s brush will help with touch-ups

This takes the pressure off getting it perfect in process.
For our windowless powder room – the shimmer of this metallic gold paint is a welcome sparkle.

You can watch it twinkle while you tinkle…

New! Here’s a Video Tutorial of all the steps:

 For more about how we turned this basement closet into this stylish powder room – keep reading here.

All the details…

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Monday 15th of August 2022

Totally love this look. One question: It looks like the walls had the textured finish before DYI. If so, how was the bleeding issue? I am thinking I have to refinish my walls to a smooth finish, but oh what a job that will be. Thank you for your response.


Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Glad you love it, Georgia! The walls had a very slight eggshell texture - just from previous coats of paint over the years. How rough are your walls now? You're right, if they are very textured the stencil bleeding will make it tricky to get a good finish.

Lynn Spencer

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

I absolutely LOVE this 'wallpaper'! You did such a great job.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Thanks so much, Lynn!

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Elsie Blue

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Girl,,, I thought my inspiration BUTTON of my DIY life was slipping away. I am totally impressed with your stencil work here... once again I am bouncing back , with ideas streaming out of my head .. Beautiful job... Thank you for sharing...


Wednesday 8th of July 2020

I’m so glad you’re inspired, Elsie! Yay! :)