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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE area rugs! They instantly change the way a space looks, and are an easy {and temporary} way to add color or pattern to a room.

However, if you are on a tight budget {like us} then you may quickly realize that the area rug you want is out of your price range, boooooo.  But then that’s the beauty of DIY, am I right? You can find a style you like and then re-create it in a way that reflects your personality, without spending a ton of money. All it takes is a little bit of time and patience. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you!

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

Today I am sharing how I created a DIY painted rug inspired by West Elm, for just $20!

I had originally planned to paint the rug I currently have in my office/studio but after coming across a pattern I loved, I realized I could get the same look with just a sharpie. In case you missed that post or want a refresh you can see my West Elm Inspired Rug here {pictured below}. If you plan to use a design with more lines and less filled in shapes I would definitely recommend the sharpie route. It’s easy, looks great and the rug still feels super soft!

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com
DIY Sharpie Rug

However, if you are looking to fill in patterns and shapes with more color then you may want to try out the DIY painted rug route.

West Elm Inspired DIY Painted Rug

One day while browsing the West Elm website I came across the  Phoenix Wool Dhurrie rug and instantly fell in love. The geometric/kilim pattern was fun, simple, classic and modern all rolled into one. It seemed perfect for our dining room!

Of course, the price tag of $350 for a 5×8 was a bit steep for us so I decided to create my own version using this design as my inspiration.

I know that one of the reasons area rugs can be expensive is because of the materials and craftsmanship involved. My DIY painted rug wouldn’t be nearly as perfect or soft, but I was okay with that. When you have $20 you can spend on a rug, you have to make do with what you have. Besides, I really enjoy all of the stories behind the DIY projects in our home, and no one has anything exactly like it 🙂

The inspiration:

West-Elm-Phoenix Wool Dhurrie Rug



Measuring Tape


Fabric Medium



foam brushes

Painter’s Tape

Cardboard Template of shapes to use {optional}


drop cloth/newspapers

Fabric Protector


90’s Music {optional}


By the way, one of my favorite ways to save money on rugs is to purchase remnant rugs from Home Depot or Lowes.  The rug I used in my office cost less than $30 and the one I’m sharing today was only $20! I always like to check to see what remnant rugs are in stock when I’m in there because it can be somewhat random, and you never know what you will find. I’m all about the treasure hunt so I’m okay with that 🙂 It would have been nice to get one a bit larger but I figured 5×7 would do, especially for the price!

Here is the before photo of my 5×7 Remnant Rug:

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

I already had the fabric medium on hand that you use to mix with your paint color since I had purchased it back when I bought the rug above, thinking I’d use it, but didn’t. I did actually use some of it on the DIY lace curtains I shared. I purchased the $20 remnant rug soon after we finished building our West Elm Inspired dining table, so I actually had everything on hand that I needed, woo-hoo! You can use acrylic or latex paint, and I just used some custom mixed navy and turquoise paint.  Just make sure that if you custom mix a paint color, that you make more than enough. The last thing you want is to run out of paint before your DIY painted rug is finished.

The first thing I did was create the shape templates in illustrator. I’m not gonna lie, I suck at math and am a more visual person so I thought planning it out on the computer would be easier. Plus this way I could play around with where I wanted the shapes and what color to make them too. I actually still screwed it up, but I’ll get to that a little later…

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

I decided to create 3 separate shapes, enlarge them, and then printed each individual shape out from my home printer. Each shape took up a few pieces of paper so I used some of the Delicate Frog Tape to tape the pieces of paper together. I actually won a bunch of Frog Tape {YAY!} when I attended Haven, and I had never used the delicate kind before. It was perfect because it didn’t tear the paper and I even had to move it around a couple of times.

After each shape was taped together I cut the shape out, then placed it on a piece of cardboard, traced it with a sharpie, and then cut out the new cardboard template. The cardboard template is what I used to “stencil” onto the rug. The photos below probably explain this better than I can.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

I did this for all 3 shapes until I had 3 separate templates cut out of cardboard.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

After I had all of my cardboard templates printed out I started marking out my measurements onto the rug using chalk as a guide for where my templates would start. This is when I realized I totally screwed up my plan.

When I enlarged the shapes on my computer I apparently made them too large, which threw off my original design plan. Oops. I had even tested out the first template to see how it would fit along with the rug, but had only gone along the height of the rug, and not the width. This meant that I had to alter my design a bit and went with just 3 columns of vertical shapes. I considered re-printing and cutting the templates but decided just to roll with the punches instead.

It didn’t take long to line up where the shapes would go since I lined the first column against the edge and 3.5 inches apart, and then started the middle column smack dab in the center. I also used my original printed out shapes as a guide in addition to my cardboard templates {as seen in the photo below}. Once I had my template lined up I simply traced around it using a sharpie marker. I alternated between 2 different sharpies to make it easier when one was running low on ink.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

This took a bit longer than expected and it was pretty late, so after I had traced all of the shapes I decided I would do the painting part the next day.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

By the way, the paint dried slightly darker than it originally looked when I painted it on. Just FYI so you don’t end up with a color darker than you wanted. It’s probably best to test an area first to see if the color looks the way you want it to. I had started painting one of the patterns on my rug and then decided I wanted the color a bit lighter, so I just painted over the part I originally painted.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

Before I started painting I put a couple of old tablecloths underneath the rug just to make sure no paint went through. You could use a dropcloth, newspapers, an old sheet, etc. The paint didn’t go through the rug at all actually, but better safe than sorry, right? I worked on the rug in our bedroom with the door shut so our pets wouldn’t run all over it or have their fur fly in the paint. Funny how as soon as a door shuts they freak out and wanna come in. If you have pets are yours the same way?

After I had my navy paint color mixed I used a foam brush {several actually} to apply the paint to the shapes on the rug. I originally tried a regular paintbrush but found that the foam brushes worked much better. If you have really large shapes or stripes you could also use a foam roller.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

After the paint had dried I actually went around and painted over the shapes one more time. A couple of hours and many foam brushes later, my rug looked like this:

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

and my brushes looked like this:

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

Lol. Well, even when the foam part broke off I still used it to sorta squeegee the paint onto the rug. It worked surprisingly well and I wasn’t afraid to get a little messy.

I actually really liked how the rug looked with just the dark navy {it looks a bit darker in the photos then it does in person}. Our dining room doesn’t get too much light though and is super beige so I wanted to add a pop of turquoise to brighten it up a bit.

I was impatient so after a few hours, it seemed dry enough so I went ahead and started painting around the edges of the pattern using a smaller paintbrush and some custom mixed turquoise paint. Don’t you just love how the paint is in an old Tostitos jar? haha.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

It was so much fun watching the rug transform before my eyes, talk about instant gratification! At first, I was bummed that I screwed up my original design plan because I really wanted to have more than 3 columns, but I still think it turned out pretty awesome. In fact, I think it worked out pretty good because now there is more contrast in the dining room with the additional white showing on the carpet.  

Here is the rug all finished:

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

I actually want to pick up some fabric protector to spray over it just to make sure all that hard work lasts. I will probably do that next weekend.

So what do you think? Have you painted a rug before or are you considering making one? I LOVE our new DIY painted rug and I will admit that the painted areas are a bit stiff but not too terrible and since it’s in the dining room and not the bedroom I’m totally cool with that.

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

Painted Rug in Dining Room | MountainModernLife.com

DIY Painted Rug upcycledtreasures.com

We hope this tutorial on our DIY Painted Rug was helpful. Do you plan to give it a try? If so we would love to hear about it below.

UPDATE – 1 Year Later:

I’ve had this rug for about a year now and still LOVE it! It seems to have gotten softer over time – although the painted areas are still crunchy and are holding up really well. I have no problems vacuuming it or doing spot cleaning. The best advice I could give is that if you create a custom color be sure to have extra set aside or know exactly how you made it. There are a few spots where my cats have scratched the rug and it could use a couple of touchups, but I don’t have the same paint so I’ll have to try to color match it.

UPDATE – 2 years later:

The rug held up much better than I expected but one of our cats ended up struvite crystals and long story short he peed on the rug… multiple times. I did spray the rug down with Scotch Guard after I painted it which I do think helped prevent stains, but I cleaned it and he’d pee on it again. Although he’s been on medicine and is better now, the rug had to go. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I don’t know if it’s better to buy a rug and have your cat ruin or, or spend tons of time creating a design on one and have your cat ruin it. I guess both scenario’s suck. At least the rug only cost $20, it lasted 2 years, and I really enjoyed painting it.