Kitschy Aquarium

5 Materials
4 Hours

Hi, Liz here from the DIY & decorating blog Simple Decorating Tips.

This is a totally fun, kitschy aquarium DIY project that you have to have just the right spot for.

I just happened to have that exact spot in the lower level hallway wall by the kid’s playroom/family room.Here’s a little background to this project… if you want to just skip ahead to the actual project, roll on past this paragraph. 

We used to have a cottage in Maine. (Be sure to pop over to Simple Decorating Tips, and see all the posts on the blog relating to the Maine Cottage, and our former 100 year old house reno, and our current renovation!!) We sold that cottage and our last home, a 100 year old house, the same year, and bought a new renovation project to combine and downsize. Having the Maine cottage, I’ve collected some really fun coastal things and wanted to incorporate those fun memory filled items in the lower level of our new house… in the family room which is a total play room for our 6 grandkids. All that being said, the emphasis is on fun, somewhat kitschy, vintage coastal decor. Oh and did I mention that the existing spare bathroom just off the play room has a vintage pink tub I wanted to tie into the space too? So, a little pink and a lot of coastal… moving on with the DIY project:As I was planning and designing the lower level space, way before we even started renovating it, I happened upon this totally fun, charming, and very expensive, wallpaper:

I loved the look, but the price was too much for a play room. (Plus, then I wouldn’t have had the fun of searching for and collecting all the vintage chalkware fish I did!)Then on our last trip out to the east coast, I noticed this wall treatment in a restaurant in the Boston airport:

I’m not sure if it was wallpaper or hand done, but that was the final push for my inspiration.Here is the large blank wall in the hallway:

The long hallway is extra wide too, probably around 4 1/2 feet, so to have a 3-D treatment on it won’t feel like it’s making it too narrow to pass through.First I measured and taped off the basic size. I had a thought about painting waves on the border, but wasn’t sure if I’d pull it off too well, so started with straight lines.

Here’s a painting taping tip…

Be sure to firmly press the edge of the tape to prevent the paint from seeping under it. Also, be sure to get really good tape! It’s expensive, but for a reason! It works!!For the background, I rolled on the first coat of black paint.

Did you know you can order it online and have it delivered to your door for free?!! (BTW for this whole house inside and out, I’ve used this paint, in white, and have been thrilled with the quality and smooth finishes!)

After one coat, this close up shows why I always recommend 2 coats. It’s easy to see with black on white, but with all paint colors, you just really don’t get good enough coverage with only 1 coat.The large rectangle all painted.

I let the first coat of paint dry then painted the second coat and removed the tape when that coat was still wet. The reason is, that sometimes if you let both coats dry on the tape before removing it, it can just be a bit thick and actually pull some of the fresh paint off the wall along with it. Take care though, when removing the tape when the paint is still wet. I have found I have to be careful to not let tape fly around as I’m removing it, or the wet paint on it can brush against the white wall.Once I saw it as just a plain rectangle, I realized right away it needed more ‘fun’, so I grabbed a pencil and sketched out the wave border:

To paint the waves, I used two sized artist round paint brushes.For the pointy tips of the waves, I used the smaller round brush, pulling it backwards from the point into the wave:

Then for the rest of the wave, I used a large round brush to follow the pencil sketch border. It is a larger round brush that I can load up the paint on.

It was a bit time consuming to paint those waves, 2 coats, but it did add some fun character to it!

Next it was time to add the really fun character… the actual characters!

I have been collecting vintage wall mounted, totally kitschy, aquarium fish for a while. ( here is the shopping link where I bought these from and, like an addict, keep checking frequently for more) Since I had several varieties of seahorses, I started by placing them scattered about on the kitschy aquarium:

Some of the pieces are ceramic and the command strips worked great to hold them on the wall. (I didn’t want to use nails, because I have little grandchildren that would want to touch these colorful little fish and one little knock could easily bring it off that nail… I needed something that would help ‘hold’ it on the wall!)

The chalkware fish needed something else to hold them on the wall. When tried the command strips, it just fell right off the chalky backs.Sooo… I went for it… totally embracing the kitschy aquarium and it’s inhabitants. I got out my glue gun and glued the chalkware fish right to the wall.

Here is the completed kitschy aquarium:

The kids LOVE it!! It really is so fun!

We all love the oh-so-cute expressions on the fishes faces!

I still have a few spots that I could add one or two… I’d love an octopus or squid. Don’t see those too frequently though.

I did it. I combined a little pink with a lot of nautical and fun. It’s so entertaining, in a kitschy sort of way. 

Be sure to stop by my DIY & decorating blog Simple Decorating Tips to see many more fun projects!

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Erin
    on Jul 13, 2019

    How long have you been collecting the vintage fishies?!

    You could add a couple of those cute little vintage mermaids too!

    • Simple Decorating Tips
      on Aug 1, 2019

      Sharon ditto, I don't think magnetic paint would actually be strong enough to hold some of the fish on the wall... if I could get a magnet to stick to the back of the fish. I especially selected black for the background because that makes the colorful fish totally pop. (And the black color lends itself well for the imagination to see it as a deep ocean.)

Join the conversation

2 of 22 comments
  • AndradeTea
    on Jul 15, 2019

    Adorable! Win-win: you get a place to display your collection and fill up a blank wall while delighting your kids!

  • Giselle
    on Jul 19, 2019

    Love it! So fun!

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