Math IS Real Life: April 2017 Edition – painting an accent wall

It’s the first Wednesday of April which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!

If you are linking up, please include the below picture to link back to this blog post


 A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by MissMathDork,


Around Mid March, we had a rumored snow day approaching, and I decided it was time for a project.  Snow days are great for projects, especially painting.  You’re basically trapped inside and it gives me something to do other than bake, bake, and bake some more (why is it that I always NEED fresh, warm cookies when it snows?!)

Anyway I had a paint scheme in my mind that would be perfect for my quest room / office — teal, orange, grey.  I wanted a really dark teal, but was nervous, so I ended up with a gallon of teal (the main 3 walls) , and 3 quarts – 1 each of dark teal, orange, and grey.

So, now I had 4 colors of paint and 4 walls…but I didn’t want each wall a different color.  When I told my MIL that I chose paint colors (this is HUGE for me… I usually think obsess about paint colors for weeks before making a decision) she was pretty excited, but skeptical of what I was going with all 4 colors.  She suggest an accent wall with a geometric design and my wheels started spinning.  I went home and started checking out various wall designs and decided I wanted a herringbone/feathery/arrow type pattern BUT I wanted it to NOT be a pattern (I know, I know, who AM I this month….).  After looking at quite a few designs online, I just decided to create my own.

First, I painted the accent wall in a solid color of grey.  I thought about being efficient and only painting where it would show through the tape, but that seemed like more trouble than what it was worth.  (note: we’ve lived in this house for 7 years now and this room has yet to be painted…I forgot about contractor grade paint and how many coats I would need for a base! yikes!  I was really fearing that quart of grey wouldn’t suffice BUT it did! And I had about an 1/8 of a container (1/2 c.) remaining – phew!)

The next day it snowed – yeah!!  10 inches (on pi day – booooo no pi day celebrations!) and our first and only snow day of the season.  I was ready to tape the wall and get painting.  I wanted the wall to have a sort of randomness to it, no real pattern, but balance was necessary.  So, I measured the room.

The room is 11.5 feet long (138 inches).  I knew I wanted to make the measuring as easy as possible for myself so I went to my sewing room and looked at the sewing rulers I had  — 5 inches, 8 inches, 12 inches, 18 inches, 22 inches, then I started calculating.

The tape I was using 1.4 inches wide – I rounded to 1.5 inches because it was easier, and to be honest, human error was definitely going to play a role in taping this wall so this process should be as easy as possible.  5 and 8 inches sounded too tiny to deal with so I did some rough calculations with 12, 18, and 22.

138/ 12 = 11.5, 138/18 = 7.6, and 138/22 = 6.2727

While 11.5 is a very nice, round number, it seemed like a LOT of columns, so I started playing with 18 and 22.  I also remembered that I needed a tape line to delineate each column, so I needed to do some subtraction before dividing.

For 18 inches, there would be 7 columns, which would need 8 tape lines

138 – 8(1.5) = 126  –> 126/18 = 7.0

For 22 inches, there would be 6 columns, which would need 7 tape lines

138 – 7(1.5) = 127.5 –> 127.5/22 = 5.80

Based off of those calculations, it seemed obvious to go with the 18 in ruler.


So I started taping off 18 inch sections with 1.5 inches of blue tape in between.

Once I had the entire wall taped off in columns it was time to start making the diagonal lines in tape.  First, I took a piece of  cardboard and cut it an angle that wasn’t “too aggressive”.  I wanted a nice slope, but I didn’t want something too harsh on the eye.

I basically only used the template for the first line or two on each column.  I used the tape to my advantage in that it’s pretty straight if you pull it taut.  AND (many of you would be proud of me) I decided it was okay to have some of the lines not the perfect angle.  That was hard for me to do, but it was best for everyone’s sanity… I also decided that I did NOT want every section to have the same thickness AND I did NOT want there to be a pattern to the thickness.  If you look at some of the columns, you will see that I started falling into a natural rhythm and sometimes the spacing was predictable.  I left it and just tried to go with the flow as much as possible.  (Note: it is REALLY hard for a person who sees patterns in everything to create something that is NOT a pattern…)

After getting the entire wall taped (2.5 rolls of tape if you were wondering!) I grabbed the dark teal.  This was the color that I wanted to have the least amount of on the wall.  Again, I was trying to force there not to be a pattern, but balance was necessary so I made sure that in every four blocks there would be dark teal.  I kept counting 1,2,3,4 and then making one of those 4 sections dark teal.  Sometimes it was the 2nd section, then it was the 4th, then the 3rd, etc.  Just not touching.  This was the most tedious color to paint.

Then I painted the orange, and just in and around the dark teal to add pops of brightness.  I also tried to make it so that the light teal would only be side by side sometimes.  I needed the side by side to occur so that a pattern did not happen.  I thought about adding in a 4th color but decided that it was too late at this time.    To be very honest, I was getting very nervous at this point b/c the wall looked to dark for me.

BUT once I removed the dark blue painters tape and the grey showed through, I was much happier with it.  This picture was taken at 9pm so the lighting isn’t the best, but I still enjoy it 🙂

Once I put the room back together, I decided I needed a bunch of fun pillows to go on the bed so I went to Joann’s who was having a 50% fabric sale that weekend (LOVE when that happens!)

I bought 8 different fabrics (1/2 yard each).  Usually each fabric was $6.00 a yard, but they were half off so it was $3.00 a yard, which meant fabric for each pillow was $1.50.  Not too bad! Then I grabbed cheap pillow forms from online ($3.24 each!) and for less than $5.00 a piece, I had brand new pillows!  (I’ve yet to find pillows that cheap in a store!)

The pillow design I made was pretty straight-forward, and quite fast envelope pillow.  Basically, you take your pillow form (mine were 18×18) and add 1 inch to the length and width for the front of the pillow (19×19) and then for the back you add another 4 inches to only one dimension (19×23).

Since I purchased a half yard, I didn’t quite make it to 19 inches for the dimensions, but I just adjusted my seam length a bit to help fix that.

LOVE how the pillows turned out – you can’t tell from the picture, but each design is very geometric – 2 dark teal, 2 light teal, 3 orange, 1 grey (I already have 2 other greys that will be added to mix)

And of course, I had to add some bulldog log to the front 🙂

So, ready to go create a geometric accent wall?!  So much fun!  Though, it does take a bit of prep work 🙂


  Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below!  Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!

Categories: #mirl, computation and estimation, geometry and measurement, hands-on math, math is real life, and mathematical reasoning.

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