Green How-To: Customize Bamboo Blinds with a Graphic Freehand Paint Job

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For years, I’ve been dreaming about having free reign to decorate a space as I pleased and actually putting my ideas for customization into action. Apparently though, that requires a couple of things, the most important of which is having our own home where we can decorate as we like. Doing a surprise patio makeover for my mother was one of very few times over the last few years when I’ve been able to take a decorating idea from concept all the way through to creation, and I loved every second of it. But by far, my favorite part of the new patio space is the custom-painted bamboo blinds that cover up the ugly storage nook where the lawnmower lives. I had the bright idea to paint the blinds with a simple floral pattern after seeing how Nicole Balch over at Making It Lovely painted a gorgeous rug directly onto the floor of her front porch — when she was nine months pregnant, no less. So here’s how I turned a pair of boring, but functional bamboo blinds into the focal point of my mother’s patio.

1. Decide what you want to paint before you start

I knew the design would have to be simple if I had any chance of actually being able to paint it freehand, without the benefit of pencil sketching. The textured surface of the bamboo blinds made sketching impossible, so I had to have a clear idea of what I wanted the design to look like before I started painting on the blinds. I created a pencil sketch on paper of how I wanted the flowers to look. The pattern was simple enough, so I moved on to the real thing.

2. Lay the blinds flat and straight

Bamboo blinds have a tendency to shift if you’re not careful. In order for the design to look the way you imagined once you hang the blinds, you have to ensure that they lay perfectly straight on your painting surface. If you don’t, the design can end up seriously distorted once hanging.

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3. Paint outlines first, then fill in the blanks

I used a very thin artist’s brush to paint the outlines of my flowers onto the blinds, then went back with a wider tipped brush to fill in the pattern. Because bamboo blinds have gaps between each bamboo twig, the fine-tipped brush would have made for a loooong process. The wider brush made the filling in much easier, and creating the outlines first meant I could stand back and check the progress of the design as I was going along. In fact, I seriously considered leaving just the outlines because I loved the look, but I figured it would be more substantial and impressive if filled in the flowers.

4. Let them dry for several hours

We actually let them dry for a full day before hanging them just to make sure the paint wouldn’t drip, but in the Georgia heat, I suspect we could have hung them after about 2 hours.

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5. Hang them and admire your work

We hung our blinds in a very non-traditional space. For one thing, they are outdoors. But they are also not even on a window. They’re hanging from eye hooks in the patio roof. But no matter where you choose to use your blinds, be sure to take a photo so you’ll always remember what you did. Like I said, this simple project, which took me a total of about an hour to paint, has turned our cluttered, unused nook into concealed storage and my favorite part of the patio space.

Total cost: $80.76

  • Radiance Imperial Matchstick Rollup Shade, $34.88/ea. (Walmart)
  • Artist’s paintbrushes, Approx. $4 (Home Depot)
  • Behr outdoor paint sample, Approx. $4 (Home Depot)
  • Biodegradable plastic dropcloth, Approx. $3 (Walmart)

What do you think of this project? Does it seem easy enough to attempt on your own? Have you done any similar customization projects for your home or someone else’s? I’d love to hear about them! And if you have any green decorating projects for any part of your home that you’d like to share, you can submit your project information and photos for a chance to be featured right here at Green Your Decor!

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5 comments… add one

  • Mandi @ Simple Nest July 2, 2009, 7:17 pm

    These are gorgeous! Great job!

    Mandi @ Simple Nests last blog post..5 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Modern Style

  • outdoor blinds July 4, 2009, 7:18 am

    This is really nice and superb post. I totally enjoyed with this.

  • Carla | Green and Chic July 4, 2009, 5:34 pm

    Wow, you did a great job! Thank you for posting the instructions.

  • Frank February 12, 2010, 6:20 am

    Wow, love the way the artwork have turned a plain bamboo blind into a piece of art. Of course, this is beyond my ability but I am still amazed by the result.

  • Kit June 19, 2010, 8:18 pm

    Great idea and your final result looks wonderful! I was just looking for ideas on using this type of blind in my 10×10′ art fair display, as well as where to buy the shades. Thanks!

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