How To: Faux Brick Walls

The Giant and I bought a house.  Which is exciting and weird to think about at the same time.  Since the lease on our apartment doesn’t end until the end of May, we are taking the time to get the interior painted before we move in.  Plus, as we discovered yesterday, it’ll be handy to have access to the apartment laundry until we can buy new appliances during Memorial Day.

Because The Giant and I are… geeks… we’ve decided to really play up our geekdom in our home.  In particular we wanted a Steampunk basement.  The basement walls were painted cinder block and we took a while to decide how we wanted to finish them.  At first we thought about using paneling from Lowes and following the lead from Epbot.  Since we had a lot of area to cover the price tag seemed daunting at $26 per sheet.  The Giant suggested we paint the blocks to look like bricks and at first I was totally not on board.

Then I was looking through Pinterest at Steampunk rooms and had a flashback to the Historic Preservation class I took in college in which I learned SO MUCH about architecture and retained very little.  But what I did retain was a basic understanding of how masonry was used way back when.  So I started taping out historic brick patterns:

From top left to right: English Bond, Running Board, Herringbone, Common Bond, Flemish Bond

From top left to right: English Bond, Running Board, Herringbone, Common Bond, Flemish Bond

The Giant wanted Running Board, I wanted English Bond in order to avoid having the lines created by the original cinder blocks to appear in the middle of a brick.  We compromised and went with Common Bond.  Lines do appear in the middle of bricks, but I’ve made peace with it.

From there we spent four hours taping:

So. Much. Taping

This is a gazillion times easier with lines already on the walls.  I’d imagine if you were trying to do this on a flat wall there would be a lot more measuring and probably a lot more swearing.  We started with all the horizontals.  First we taped the outlines of the existing blocks and then we bisected them.  We used tape that was approximately 3/4″.  We ended up using about 5 rolls.

We picked out three colors of paint: A brick red, a slightly darker brick red, and a dark brown.  This is where we took a little direction from Epbot, since Jen suggested using two colors about 2 shades apart followed up with a dark brown or black to dirty it up.

To start, we painted the town  wall red with the lighter shade:



Then we pulled out a random number generator and had it pick a number between 1 and 7.  Starting in the upper left corner we counted out that number of bricks and that was the one we painted with the darker red.  Then we did that a thousand more times.  It weirded The Giant out when two or more bricks adjoined.  I informed him this was the random part of it.  If you are not like me and can actually do chaos without forming some sort of pattern, by all means skip the Random Number Generator.  Here’s what it looked like before we pulled the tape off:

Aaaaand here’s what it looked like after:

Apologies for the changes in color–different camera–it’s not nearly that orange in person.

So, that looks cool, right?  But it also kind of looks like a video game and not exactly like brick.  That’s where the brown comes into play.  The brown really makes the natural texture in the wall stand out.  I’d imagine if you were doing this on a flat wall, you’d want to add some sort of texture to your first coat of paint in order to make it look more “brick like”.

We spent about six hours dry brushing brown paint onto the walls.  In the Epbot tutorial they dry rolled paint on, but I wanted more control over it because I’m a freak.  First layer looked like this:

On the left: No brown. On the right: Teensy bit of brown.

Definitely better, but WAY too subtle.  After a lot more dry brushing we discovered that you really need to paint the center of the brick darker to give it the necessary dimension.  So, we set out to paint every. Single. Brick.  If it sounds like a pain in the ass, it was.  But?  Totally worth it.

What’s the final result?


Is it perfect?  No.  Are we happy with it?  YOU BETCHA!

My parents stopped by while we were putting the shading on.  They hadn’t seen any of the painting we’d done in the house since they were out of town, but they had seen the “before”.  The first thing my dad said was “Whoa!  It’s brick!”  Then he got about two feet from the wall before he could tell it was really just paint.  I’ll call that a win.  Especially for two people who were only pretending to know what they were doing.

And this wall? Pretty much a testament to who we are.  Two crazy people who can actually accomplish quite a bit when we’re egging each other on.  I do not consider if merely coincidence that my costuming game has really been upped since we met.



File This Under Y

For Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

Pretty much ever since Dragon graced our doorstep, the blinds in the living room have been trashed.  He’s a pretty headstrong cat, and if he wants to see the squirrels and birds and bunnies, he’s going to see the squirrels and birds and bunnies.  From the safety of the indoors.  Because he’s kind of afraid of going outside.

As a result, the blinds started looking a little like this:

Something in my head said, “Hey, I wonder if I can make these crappy blinds into roman shades.”  So I went to the Google.  And it turns out, I can.  Little Green Notebook has great easy to follow instructions. I was a little nervous cutting into the blinds, but really, they were so far gone that if I screwed them up more, who cares?  Armed with the knowledge that I could just buy new ones if I botched these, I pulled out the scissors and went to work.

Strings cut and most slats removed.

I used E-6000 instead of fabric glue, because that’s what I could find in my sewing room.  I also serged and hemmed the edges of the panels instead of just gluing them down.  I couldn’t reuse the plugs that kept the strings to the bottom bar, so I just tied the strings around the bar before gluing it down.  The end result:

The blinds themselves never worked well–or I just really suck at operating blinds… this is entirely possible–but the fabric hasn’t affected the operation of the strings in any way.  Well, I take that back… the strings are behind the fabric, which makes it a little inconvenient.  There’s really no other way for that to happen with this, so if you like to raise and lower repeatedly, this may not be the project for you.

For us?  We never move them, and they’re strictly for privacy.  And, more importantly, the cat can’t really screw them up.  He might snag the fabric, but that’s it.  Great way to repurpose, I say.

Baby Gets a New Bedroom

I had the honor of contributing to what I consider the world’s coolest nursery.  What I appreciate about this room is that it doesn’t scream baby, so the parents don’t have to redecorate at all as the child grows.  Provided the child isn’t, somehow, deathly afraid of travel.

Armoire with globe

Armoire with globe

The theme is the world, and the colors are brown, turquise, and orange.  The new mother has declared she’s quitting her job and going into interior design.   The clients are only allowed to have this room, however.

Crib wall

Crib wall

Some clients will get horizontal stripes.

Canvases featuring continents

Canvases featuring continents

My first input in the room was doing the second coats on some of these continents.  I also suggested the brown band around the edge, which makes them pop out from the wall.  It’s a subtle effect, but I think it works.

Curtains, sofa, chair, light pull

Curtains, sofa, chair, light pull

My second print on the room is the light pull.  I suggested orange with the disclaimer that it’s just paint.  If you don’t like it, paint over it.  She liked it.  That chair between the rocker and the sofa doesn’t belong there.  I used it to hang the curtains…

Curtain Close-Up

Curtain Close-Up

This is my nearly-final touch on the room.  I’m also lining the roman shades that came with the room/house, but those are worth photographing.  The fabric is a Christopher Lowell, which I was pleasantly surprised with.  It’s a good sturdy fabric that didn’t shed too much.  It wasn’t terribly hard to sew, either, and my machine handled it like a champ until it had to sew through six layers at once.  But who wouldn’t complain about that?