Roman Clay walls make a lovely statement in any home. After applying DIY Roman Clay to our own basement wall, I’m excited to show you how it’s done!
Add 1/3 Drywall Joint Compound to 2/3 Paint. Mix well with a drill paint mixer and apply to wall or surface with a scraper or palette knife.
We’ll the basement is officially finished and I can’t decide if I’m more elated about how this Roman Clay wall application turned out or that I am no longer tearing up sewer-soaked carpet!
Although the flood in our basement was untimely (just before Christmas), it did give us an opportunity to re-examine our downstairs space.
We are in a whole different chapter of our lives now, then we were nearly 11 years ago, when we first moved in. Our youngest of four kids is six which means we no longer need an entire level of toy land type area. Of course the kids still love to play with their kitchen, tractors and doll house but we have been pairing down toys a little more every year.
Once we got the carpet up, the floors cleaned, then stained and sealed we decided to turn this wild, rumpus room into a cozy space for play, cuddles by the fire, guests to stay and my sewing machine (oh and there’s still a treadmill in there, too that my husband swears we’ll use one day).
What started as an unplanned disaster, turned into a warm, multi-functioning living space where we can host gatherings, overnight guests, slumber parties and just a nice hang out spot for the teenage years ahead of us.
Once I finally got to the creative part of this project, I caught my second wind. After my many travels abroad, I wanted to re-create the rustic textures, inspired by places that I had adored.
When traveling to different parts of the world, I always make sure to take a piece of our trip home with me. This can be an actual souvenir or a cultural inspiration that reveals itself in how I decorate my home. This time, it was the look of Roman Clay walls that stuck with me. After living in Barcelona, seeing homes in Italy, and traveling to Scotland, dreams of Roman Clay danced in my head. I seriously couldn’t get over how great the rustic-textured, matted appearance looked. It seemed to add such a cozy and romantic feeling to any space it touched – a truly great addition to any home!
When it came to the process of making and applying the Roman Clay, it was one part experiment and one part experience! During college, I had the opportunity to study abroad, travel and live in many different interesting places in Europe. Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Scotland all had influence in this project. I call these inspirations that I bring home from my travels that influence how I decorate, my best souvenirs.
In college I was also involved in set and backdrop design. Many of our tasks were to test different wall applications. Using styrofoam, wood, paint, and any other inexpensive and light-weight material, we were challenged to depict different textures, bricks, looks, and cultures which included trying my hand at Roman Clay application. These experiences in creating back drops and sets only furthered my desire to have this look in my own home and is what I used to formulate this Roman Clay recipe!
I suggest starting with a small space. Because it is quite a process, you’ll want to make sure that you enjoy the warmth and rustic textures before going through mixing up the paint and the compound together.
Starting in a closet, a small wall or even just working on a small panel board is a good idea to not only practice on, but to get a sense if you like the application before applying it to an entire space or room.
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In our bathroom we used a custom color that I love. We call it Creamy White. I loved how our sample space (our downstairs bathroom) turned out with the roman clay combination with this creamy white paint!
Our main room is a color from Sherwin Williams called 7023 Requisite Gray. I selected it carefully as this would be in our basement- a space with little natural light, so I didn’t want something too dark. I wanted moody, rustic and soft, but not too dark. If was doing a room or wall with more natural light, I would probably select something darker, as adding the dry wall compound will lighten the color, once dry.
Because the space I was covering was large, I chose a 90 minute dry-time drywall compound. This gave me enough time to apply the first layer before it hardened completely – this first coat took about an hour to apply and an hour to dry (the Roman Clay drys in a lighter color so you will know it’s dry when there are no more dark spots). For the second coat, I covered any spots that I felt needed more texture or coverage. In the third coat, I went over specific spots that I felt needed a little something extra. The total process with making, applying, and drying took me about 1.5 days.
*The dry times will always depend on how thick you apply
*Remember that if you make more Roman Clay or mix your buckets you run the risk of the colors not perfectly being matched. I was ok with this because I wanted to go for more texture and depth. In order to avoid this, however, just make more than you think you will need!
The difference is in the application! Roman clay is usually applied with a putty knife whereas lime wash is applied by a brush. Because of this, Roman Clay ends up with the look of natural clay or stone. Lime wash on the other hand, gives a more suede/velvet appearance.
The most basic answer is a putty knife. Other names for this are drywall knife, plastic putty knife, plastic spatula, and joint knife. All of these serve the same purpose and can be found at your local hardware store or Home Depot!
There are companies who make Roman Clay and I did a fair amount of research there. The thing was, that you had to chose from a small color palette. I’m not a box-me-in kinda gal, so this is when I started experimenting on my own, so I could decide which color I wanted!
When selecting a paint color, consider your space. Do you have lots of natural light or not? We selected a moody paint, but something that wasn’t too dark for our basement, since it doesn’t get a ton of natural light.
Also know that your application of the roman clay will lighten as it dries on the wall.
Due to the unexpected flood in this basement and the inconvenience of this all happening just before the holidays, it was a lot more work than I was hoping for. In the end, we are so excited about how it all turned out and came together. We added a ton more life, warmth and purpose to this space. Previous to this, it was just a big play room with my sewing table in it and our build-in murphy bed.
Now we have a whole other living space that we can be proud of. We’re excited to host, invite guests into and hang out in our new space.
Let me know if you have any questions about this process down in the comments.
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