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Monday, April 16, 2012

Paper Bag Wall

Shortly after we moved into this house - at the tail end of 2004 - my husband painted all the walls off-white. In the process, he painted over wallpaper that was on an L-shaped section of the kitchen wall. You guessed it: The wallpaper bubbled. Bubbles everywhere! HUGE bubbles!! (Not really; they just looked huge to me.) I was in a panic. I'd read somewhere that one can paint over wall paper, but only with oil-based paint. I guess we found out the hard way not to paint over wall paper with latex paint. What was I going to do with that wall? I suggested to my husband that we start looking for a barn that someone might give us, so we could cover that wall with barn wood. 
In the meantime - till we could get our hands on some barn wood - I covered the wall with brown wrapping paper. I got a couple rolls of paper at the local office supply store, tore the paper into chunks, and applied it to the wall with wall paper paste. After each chunk was in place, I scrunched it around a bit so that it had a texture. After the paper was on the wall, my family loved the look. But I told them, 'I'm not done yet!' 
Next, I put two colors of paint in one roller pan and rolled those two colors onto the wall in one operation. The result was wonderful, and my family loved the look . . . .
But I wasn't done yet: Next, I covered the wall with oil-based stain. The stain snugged itself into the cracks and crevices of the paper. 
After I tired of the orange paint, I painted that 'paper bag wall' with two colors of green paint - same technique: two colors of green paint in one roller pan. I liked the green, and so did my family. I experimented a bit when I applied the green paints; I ran the roller across the wall in such a way as to create a plaid effect. 
We eventually added a pass-through in that wall, and we eventually put barn wood over my paper bag wall, but in the meantime, I really had fun with this part of our kitchen wall. 
I'm so glad for those initial bubbles - glad for our error in decorating judgment - for, in the end, I had a lot of fun with that wall. In future entries, I plan to share photos of the pass-through and such. 


  1. Every bit of thing we may see in the photos at your house will have a blog-story behind it. Where do you get ideas to put two greens to the same application? I'm also puzzled about the word 'bag'. The little project has come off beautifully.

    1. Dinu! Good question. I just now - in July - saw this comment of yours! The 'bag' part refers to the paper I used to do this wall: It's the same type paper used to make grocery bags. I could have used paper bags to do this project, but I bought a roll of the same paper instead because I didn't have any paper bags laying around! Glad you asked! Susan

  2. When our children were young, they'd come to me and ask if they could do this-or-that, and I would think about it, then, if I had no objections to what they wanted to do, I would turn to them and say, 'I can't think of one reason why you shouldn't do that,' and off they'd go on a new adventure. I think of that now because that's sort of how I do things, creatively speaking, Dinu: If an inspiration hits, and I can't think of one reason why I shouldn't try it, I go for it!!!!

  3. Love this! Have seen floors done also.

    When you painted the Paper Bag wall, did you use latex or oil based paint?

    Thanks so much!

    1. I did not hit the right button to 'reply,' so I'm not sure you got notice that I replied, all those months ago. I did reply, though, but not the right way, apparently. So sorry. Please read the comments I did make about your comments. Thanks.

  4. Hi, Kimberly!
    I painted the paper wall with water-based paint. Then I smeared oil-based stain over the top of it after the paint was dry.
    Note: I really like the look of oil-based paint - the colors are so rich - and I found out when I did a magnetized wall (which required oil-based primer) that oil-based paints are not what they used to be; that primer dried in about a half hour! Amazing!
    By the way, I just recently saw a picture on-line of a floor done with brown paper cut into 12-inch squares. This person then painted lines to simulate a tiled floor. It was awesome.
    Thanks for your comments. You made my day! Susan

  5. Good point, Xiaolei Duan! Paper bags are decidedly not popular any more in the US. Though most grocery stores do keep paper bags on hand for customers who prefer them, most people accept plastic bags as the norm. Rolls of the same paper used in paper bags are available at both home improvement stores, like Lowe's, and at office supply stores, like Office Depot. I opted to use the paper-in-rolls version. The title of this blog speaks to the fact that it's the same paper in both versions. But you are so right: I did not tear up paper bags for this project. I know someone who did go that route, however; she had to avoid using the lettering that appears on most paper bags, but other than that it worked put just fine. Thanks for your comment. Susan

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