Reader Redesign: A Little Rug Inspiration

They say inspiration can come from anywhere and Sheena’s story definitely had us smiling. Here’s her letter:

Hey John and Sherry (and Clara and Burger too!) I just wanted to write to thank you for some unintended inspiration you gave me recently. After reading about Clara’s dollhouse, I fell in love with the pattern on the fabric-sample-turned-rug in the tiny room and I just had to replicate it. So I did – with a plain rug, some foam insulation, paint, and a sponge brush. Think “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” in reverse and decor style!  :)

I used a 3/4 inch thick piece of insulation styrofoam to make a stamp and stamped the design over the entire rug.  You could probably use a thick piece of cardboard or a piece of packing styrofoam as well. To give myself something to hold onto while I stamped, I glued a wood block to the back of the stamp and two folded pieces of cardboard to the outer square


So, starting with the outside square of my design, I brushed a coat of paint (Valspar’s Secluded Garden) onto the foam using a small foam brush. Then I stamped the very center of the rug, which I measured for and found beforehand.

I worked my way out and around the entire rug until I had a basic lattice design.


Next I grabbed the inside of my design and stamped it inside each square.


After I was done stamping, I filled in the design by sponging on paint using my foam brush.

I let it dry for 24 hours before I laid it down for fear that if I didn’t I’d be tracking paint all over our house.

But wait!  There are two sides to every story, including this one…

I used two-inch wide masking tape to create the stripes on the other side of my stamped rug, then I carefully took the rug outside and gave it a couple of coats of spray paint.  I noticed that the spray paint preserved the texture of the rug much more than the sponged on latex paint did.

The cost?

  • Rug:  $20
  • Paint: $6 (two sample-sized jars)
  • Foam:  already had
  • Foam brush:  already had
  • Tape:  $4 (used only about 1/8 of the roll)
  • Spray Paint:  $4 (used one leftover can and half of another)
  • Grand total for the entire project: $34

Thirty-four dollars for a reversible rug that we can flip depending on our mood, that can be easily washed, that adds some much need pattern and color into our kitchen, and that gives our dish-washin’ footsies a soft place to land.  Not bad, I’d say! – Sheena

So how cool is it to see a swatch of dollhouse fabric blown up into a real-life rug? And the whole reversible thing is great (the yellow stripes are Sherry’s favorite). If you’d like to read more about how Sheena knocked this out, here’s her full tutorial on the stamped side and her how-to on the striped side. And a big thanks to Sheena for sharing the goods!


  1. says

    I wonder how the paint feels under foot? Does it get crunchy? Flake off?

    Mind you, at that price point, I dunno if I would care much if it was a bit crunchy, ha ha!

    • says

      I’ll answer that! Haha! No! No crunchiness (I was a wee bit concerned about that too) and no paint flaking! It looks as good today as the day I painted it!!! :)

    • Jen says

      I used straight latex paint to paint two striped rugs and had the opposite experience – very crunchy. In fact I hated the texture so much that I only used them for a little while, and will probably end up throwing them out (I started with old, beat-up rugs thinking that if the project failed I wouldn’t feel bad about ditching them since that’s what was going to happen anyways). It could be that I over saturated the rug with the paint, as I was going for really solid stripes and ground that paint into the rug good. My suggestion would be to spring for the stuff that you add to paint to make it good for fabrics if you want a really saturated color that might require a fairly heavy hand with the paint.

  2. Donna says

    Wow, this looks great! I have been looking for the perfect rug and not finding it, maybe now I’ll make it!

  3. Tara says

    Where is everyone finding these awesome blank-slate cheap rugs? I need a 4×6 rug, and I can’t seem to find something that cheap anywhere! I’m gonna go ona rug stealing spree in all of your houses…

  4. Liz says

    Love this idea! I would probably end up with paint everywhere (one time ended up getting paint inside my purse). I am a messy painter.

  5. says

    Love the project, and really really love the window treatments in the background! I’ve been trying to think of what I can do with existing blinds to pretty them up a bit. Great inspiration! Thanks!

  6. says

    Clara should feel like a star now that people are imitating her doll house. She has the coolest toys. My goal for this fall is to make a doll house for my little girl either for her birthday or for Christmas. I have loved Clara’s ever since I first saw it.

  7. Emily says

    I love this project!

    I’m in PA school at the moment and have absolutely zero time to devote to house prettying projects, and reading YHL is definitely a) keeping me a little sane in the madness and b) helping me build up a giant list of things to try when I have a life again. My husband is a little afraid of what’s going to happen when I graduate… :)

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