Before and After: Plants and Checkerboard Are a DIY Dream Team in This Living Room Redo

published Oct 19, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Living Room
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

Even for maximalists, color aficionados, and pattern appreciators out there, sometimes plain white or gray walls can be a good thing. In DIYer Carrie Kline’s (@honeydohoney_home) house, “the walls were all a grayish off-white,” she explains. “I think it was painted right before the previous owners moved. It looked absolutely fine and it was painted well; I actually appreciated the blank slate.”

The blank slate — especially the large wall to the left of the big windows — provided the perfect canvas for a DIY feature wall, and one that combines two AT reader favorites: plants galore and a checkerboard pattern. 

Credit: Carrie Kline
Credit: Carrie Kline
Credit: Carrie Kline

The accent wall combines two trends: plant walls and a checkerboard pattern.

As far as the wall behind the sofa goes, Carrie had a large piece of art hung there for a while, “but it never felt complete,” she says. When she found out that she was one of four DIYers chosen to compete in an accent wall challenge sponsored by the wood company Woodgrain, she chose this wall for her project. “I thought the pressure might inspire me to finally come up with something,” she says. “And thankfully it did.”

Because the room gets great natural light, Carrie knew she wanted to incorporate plants into her feature wall, “but not just your typical plant shelves,” she says. She envisioned small planter boxes arranged in a checkerboard pattern high up on the wall — perfect for keeping the plants out of reach from her young kiddos, perfect for incorporating her “love of a checkerboard design,” and perfect for removing and rearranging for easy watering and care. 

Using lumber provided by the wood company, Carrie cut 1x6s into squares — 115 squares, and 460 routed sides, to be exact — and routed the edges of each. “I layered some for different depths and texture and made some of them into little planter boxes that my plants and pots could fit directly into.”

For the bottom half of the wall, she used fluted trim “to soften the look” and added fluted pieces to the planter boxes, too, to tie the entire look together, caulking between everything for a seamless look.

“This was a very risky project,” Carrie says. “I didn’t know if it would turn out cool or chunky and busy … it turned out INCREDIBLE.”

Credit: Carrie Kline
Credit: Carrie Kline

On the opposite wall, shiplap adds texture. 

Carrie went with a more traditional wood detail on the opposite side to balance things out. It’s shiplap painted to match the surrounding walls. “This was my first time building floating shelves, and I pictured using them for photos and plants,” Carrie adds of this wall. 

Carrie says in total, the wall projects in the room cost under $500. The yellow lamp on this wall is thrifted, and the dresser-turned-sideboard is also a DIY creation.

Credit: Carrie Kline
Credit: Carrie Kline

Paint brightens the room, and the decor adds warmth.

“This room was broken up into different stages,” Carrie says. There was a painting stage, (which also included Clare’s Neutral Territory (for each 3D square), Behr’s Exclusive Ivory (for the plant wall backdrop), and Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace (for the window wall and shiplap). 

“Then I added a big cozy rug which I found on Facebook Marketplace!” she adds. “It’s bold and colorful, it makes a statement, and is also nice to sit and play on.” (It’s originally from Safavieh.) 

Lastly, Carrie says curtains “added a deep layer of coziness.” In fact, she says the living room as a whole “makes you feel alive and happy.” To peep more of Carrie’s cheery, cozy space, check out her bathroom makeover and her house tour. Oh, and if you’re looking for a spot to add a disco ball, consider hanging one from your curtain rod, like Carrie! 

For more similar looks, check out these five plant wall projects, and for more checkerboard inspo, check out this three-day DIY project