Bordering on Perfection

Don't be fenced in by using wallpaper borders just at the wall's borders. These four inventive designs use borders to create style-setting wainscots.


A dynamic duo of scalloped borders flanks the lower, more colorful portion of this wall for a cohesive-looking treatment. Borders typically come in 15-foot rolls and cost about $10 a roll.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image Match the repeat on the upper and lower strips as you paste them.
  • Paint (in a finish of your choice)
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Wallpaper border (in a pattern of your choice)
  • Plain molding (optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Instructions:

+ enlarge image This perforated, prepasted border pulls apart to reveal a scalloped edge.

1. Measure height of border. Use the measuring tape and level to make a straight line along the wall.

2. Paint the lower part of the wall. For maximum impact, choose a wainscot paint color that blends with your border.

3. Position the borders at the baseboard and at chair-rail height (32 to 36 inches from the floor). These treatments are most effective in rooms with stretches of wall uninterrupted by multiple windows and doorways or by bulky furniture.

We started with a rope border printed on a background, then cut away the background on either side to isolate the rope pattern and to give the edges interest.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image Center the cutouts so the pattern repeat matches on each X.
  • Paint or wallpaper (in a finish of your choice)
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Rope-design wallpaper border
  • Crafts knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Instructions:

+ enlarge image Photo 1

1. Paint or wallpaper the lower wall. Use a color that complements the border.

2. Figure the spacing for the crosses. Divide the length of the wall into equal segments of about 32 to 36 inches.

3. Mark the top and bottom of the wainscot for placement of the Xs; apply the diagonal strips (see Photo 1).

4. Add horizontal strips. Place along the baseboard and at chair-rail height to cover the ends of the Xs. Leave a straight edge on one side of the baseboard border so it's easy to line up against the baseboard.

Taking vertical stripes up to plate-rail height (about 65 inches high) makes this design soar. When choosing a border, make sure the pattern also looks good vertically -- geometric patterns work well. The finished design measures 21 inches for the wide stripes, 4 inches for the border, and 12 inches for the narrower stripes.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image Turn your borders on end and erect sophisticated stripes.
  • 2 colors of paint (in a finish of your choice)
  • Paintbrushes or roller
  • Wallpaper border (in a pattern of your choice)
  • 1x4 or other plain molding with finishing nails (optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Instructions:

+ enlarge image Photo 1

1. Apply the base coat to the entire wall. Use a pale, neutral color for the wall's base coat. Mark and tape off the stripes. Paint the wider stripes over the base coat (see Photo 1). The narrow stripes remain the base color. Add borders.

2. Pick an accent color from the border -- and use a paler version of that color for the wide stripes. The dark blue dots in our border inspired the light blue stripes.

3. Add top border, if desired. A plain molding tops off the stripes without detracting from the design. Paint the molding and let it dry before nailing it along the top edge of the wallpaper.

A narrow tile-style border divides a painted wainscot into panels, each accented with a single motif cut from a wider coordinating border.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image You use very little of the wide border, so you need only one roll.
  • 2 colors of paint (in a finish of your choice)
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Coordinating wallpaper border in 2 widths (pattern of your choice)
  • Crafts knift or scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Instructions:

+ enlarge image Photo 1

1. Paint your upper wall. Be sure to select a color that goes with your overall border pattern.

2. Paint the lower wall. Use a color that matches the background of the cutouts (in this case, white) so they blend in.

3. Divide the wall length into equal segments of about 22 to 26 inches. Mark the panel divides. Apply the vertical borders, centering the strips over the marks, then add a horizontal border at chair rail height.

4. Cut out small details from the wider border (see Photo 1).

5. Paste a cutout motif in each panel. Center them horizontally (between the borders to the left and right), but place them in the top third of each panel for best visibility.

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