If you want a subtle, decorative pattern on your walls without using wallpaper, texturing your walls is a good option. You can texture your walls by creating patterns in drywall compound or using textured paint.

Apply about 1/8 of an inch (.3 centimeters) of drywall joint compound to your wall. Create the pattern while the compound is wet. You can use one of the ideas below, or you can be creative and make your own pattern:

  • Create texture similar to that of grass cloth with a small whiskbroom.
  • Create fine lines with a comb.
  • Create a bead board effect by cutting notches every 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) on a window squeegee.
  • Create swirls and other patterns with notched trowel.
  • Create textured designs with a sponge or old rag.
  • Create an even texture with a textured paint roller [sources: Lipford, DIY Network].

You may want to consider the following options instead of using drywall compound:

  • Use texture paint, which is available in smooth, sand or popcorn consistency.
  • Use a Milano Plaster Tool with Venetian Plaster or textured paint to create a Venetian Plaster texture [source: The Woolie].You can also use latex paint mixed with dried plaster.
  • Use sponging or ragging techniques in combination with a double roller frame. You can mix two paint colors on your wall to create a textured effect. Use a wood-graining tool dragged through a base coat with a glaze. This will create a wood graining effect [Source: Lipford].

Practice your preferred texturing method on a piece of paper or a discreet wall (e.g. inside your closet) before using it on an exposed wall.