Bring New Life To Your Walls With Paint

 

The house I live in is not my "dream house." The floor plan is just okay, and it sure would be nice to have one more bedroom. We're not moving any time soon though, so I've been taking steps to transform my house into a place I really love. Instead of wishing I could move, I am striving towards contentment with the home I already have. I want to walk in the door and think "Wow, I love being here in this beautiful place." I can't make structural changes without spending big bucks, so I use less expensive decorating ideas to add personal touches to my home. Paint in particular is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to bring new life to your home. One weekend of painting can transform your house's boring walls into a new charming retreat.

Tips for Selecting Paint

 

Choosing a Color

If you're planning a makeover for your walls, go to a paint store and get some color samples. There are thousands of colors to choose from, so make sure to pick a range of samples. Colors may look different in the store's lighting, so grab fifty different shades of green if you have to. That's what the samples are for. They are free for the taking, and home improvement stores encourage customers to take as many as they need. When you get home, test the samples against your wall in varying lights. Colors look different during the day than they do at night. Throw out the color samples that are obvious rejects, and gradually narrow your choices down.

If you're having a difficult time making a final color decision, home improvement stores offer small sample cans of paint that cost about $4. Paper color samples may not be large enough to give you a true idea of what your walls would look like in a certain hue. In this case, buy sample cans of two or three colors that you like, and paint small sections of each color on your wall. You'll be able to see what each paint color really looks like on the selected wall in different levels of light.

Different colors can be used strategically to make rooms look larger or smaller. Typically, dark colors make rooms seem smaller, while light colors open up a room. If you're decorating a tiny bedroom, consider light colors to make it seem more spacious. If your canvas is a massive living area, use dark warm colors to make the room more cozy and inviting. If you'd like a room to look taller, consider vertical stripes. To make a room look shorter, paint a darker color on the ceiling. Long hallways can be made to look shorter by painting the end wall a dark color. Ultimately, choose a color that makes you feel good. Design a room that makes you smile.

Personal Note

When I moved into my current home, all the walls were painted with flat paint. I really like the way flat paint looks, but I quickly realized that it is virtually impossible to clean. For example, if you swat a bug on a wall with flat paint, the bug guts stain the wall. The wall behind my son's high chair is splattered with all sorts of food stains that will not wipe off. In fact, trying to wipe splatters off makes them look worse, or it removes the paint all together. If you have kids or a dog, I don't recommend flat paint. As much as I love its non-reflective look, I won't ever use flat paint again.

Choosing a Sheen

Once you choose a color, you'll need to select a paint sheen. Paint comes in many different sheens, and each is good for different areas of the home. Here's a guide to choosing a sheen.

Flat

Flat paint has no shine to it at all. It is difficult to clean, so make sure to use on walls that are not likely to get dirty. It is not recommended for kitchens or bathrooms. On the up side, flat paint is great for ceilings, and it hides flaws in the walls very well.

Eggshell

Eggshell paint is slightly shinier than flat paint but is still not very easy to clean. It is most commonly used in living areas and on ceilings, not kitchens and bathrooms.

Satin

Satin paint is one step higher on the shiny scale than eggshell. Satin paint is much easier to clean than flat and eggshell. Satin paint is my top choice for high traffic and living areas because it isn't super shiny, but it is cleanable.

Semi Gloss

Semi Gloss paint is used most commonly in bathrooms and kitchens because it resists moisture well. Stains and splatters wipe off easily, so it is a great choice for families with kids and pets. Semi Gloss paint can be used anywhere in the home, but it is considerably shiny. Depending on personal preference, you may want to limit the shiny walls to the kitchen and bathrooms. Semi Gloss is also ideal for woodwork, such as baseboards, molding, doors, and cabinets.

How to Choose Interior Paint

How much paint will I need?

Use Behr's online paint calculator to decide how much paint you will need for your project. You can also ask the clerk at the paint counter in any home improvement store.

Painting Supplies

Here's a list of supplies that will help you get the job done:

  • Paint
  • Roller handle
  • Roller sponges
  • Paint pan
  • Paint brush
  • Painter's tape
  • Ladder
  • Rags for cleaning up drips
  • Drop cloths

Painting Ideas

 

Accent Walls

Create an accent wall by painting a single wall in a room. This is a simple project that can be completed in no time. By painting only one wall, the color you choose really pops. This is a great way to use a bold color that would darken a room if painted on all four walls. Select an accent color that brings your existing décor to life or use a new color that you really love. In my home, I used my favorite shade of dark red to accent a wall that divided the kitchen from the formal dining room. Accenting this particular wall created a desired division between the two rooms, and I love the color it brings to both areas of my home.

Examples of Accent Walls

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Painting under the high countertop adds color to the kitchen in a simple way.I painted this red accent wall between my formal dining room and kitchen area to create a visual division between the two areas.This modern accent wall with horizontal stripes in varying colors and widths is a great example of how painting only one wall can have a dramatic effect in a room.  Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/dansaysI love the gray accent wall in this master bedroom.  Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/christinel
Painting under the high countertop adds color to the kitchen in a simple way.
Painting under the high countertop adds color to the kitchen in a simple way.
I painted this red accent wall between my formal dining room and kitchen area to create a visual division between the two areas.
I painted this red accent wall between my formal dining room and kitchen area to create a visual division between the two areas.
This modern accent wall with horizontal stripes in varying colors and widths is a great example of how painting only one wall can have a dramatic effect in a room.  Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/dansays
This modern accent wall with horizontal stripes in varying colors and widths is a great example of how painting only one wall can have a dramatic effect in a room. Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/dansays
I love the gray accent wall in this master bedroom.  Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/christinel
I love the gray accent wall in this master bedroom. Photo is courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/christinel

Divide the Wall with a Chair Rail

A chair rail adds vertical division to a room. You can paint the top and bottom sections the same color or select different colors for each section. You can also use wallpaper on one side and paint on the other if you so choose. Typically a chair rail is about three feet high. However, a dramatic effect can be achieved by raising the chair rail. Chair rails are easy to install and relatively inexpensive, especially if you already have the necessary tools.

I love the look of a chair rail, no matter the height. In my daughter's bedroom, I installed a chair rail 28 inches below the ceiling. I used wallpaper in the small top section and painted below the rail. I added wooden shaker pegs to the rail and embellished each one with paint and jewels. Her room turned out marvelously. We also have a chair rail in our office. This rail is standard height with a light tan paint on the bottom and chocolate brown on the top. The browns create a masculine look in a room that is used primarily by my husband.

Examples of Paint with Chair Rails

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In this room, the chair rail is higher than the traditional 3 feet.  There is also decorative trim work below the chair rail that adds depth to the room's decor.This is our home office before any furniture was moved in.  Its simple design has a chair rail at traditional height with light brown on the bottom and chocolate brown on top.A chair rail can be installed 24-30 inches from the ceiling for a different look.  In this bedroom, wallpaper was used above the rail, and paint was used below.  Pegs were added to the rail for a little something extra.
In this room, the chair rail is higher than the traditional 3 feet.  There is also decorative trim work below the chair rail that adds depth to the room's decor.
In this room, the chair rail is higher than the traditional 3 feet. There is also decorative trim work below the chair rail that adds depth to the room's decor.
This is our home office before any furniture was moved in.  Its simple design has a chair rail at traditional height with light brown on the bottom and chocolate brown on top.
This is our home office before any furniture was moved in. Its simple design has a chair rail at traditional height with light brown on the bottom and chocolate brown on top.
A chair rail can be installed 24-30 inches from the ceiling for a different look.  In this bedroom, wallpaper was used above the rail, and paint was used below.  Pegs were added to the rail for a little something extra.
A chair rail can be installed 24-30 inches from the ceiling for a different look. In this bedroom, wallpaper was used above the rail, and paint was used below. Pegs were added to the rail for a little something extra.

Eliminate Brush Strokes with Floetrol

Divide the Wall with Wainscoting

When I see wainscoting, I have images of a quaint cottage in Cape Cod. I love that look. If you like the cottage style too, consider painting the upper portion of a wall and installing wainscoting on the lower portion. Like a chair rail, wainscoting is usually installed about three feet from the floor. Wainscoting is usually painted white or off white, but you can try something different by using richer colors. A semi-gloss sheen should be used to paint wainscoting. If you're fairly handy and have the appropriate tools, you can install wainscoting or beadboard on your own. If not, hire someone who is experienced with woodworking. Check out the "services" section on Craigslist if you don't know where else to start.

Examples of Walls with Wainscoting

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Traditional white wainscoting courtesy of www.bluewatercustom.comInstead of traditional wainscoting, wood paneling can be used to create an attractive and more masculine look.Crisp white paneling contrasts with the brown walls in this master bedroom.This photo was taken in a room that is decorated in all white.  It shows that a room without bold colors can be elegant and stylish.
Traditional white wainscoting courtesy of www.bluewatercustom.com
Traditional white wainscoting courtesy of www.bluewatercustom.com
Instead of traditional wainscoting, wood paneling can be used to create an attractive and more masculine look.
Instead of traditional wainscoting, wood paneling can be used to create an attractive and more masculine look.
Crisp white paneling contrasts with the brown walls in this master bedroom.
Crisp white paneling contrasts with the brown walls in this master bedroom.
This photo was taken in a room that is decorated in all white.  It shows that a room without bold colors can be elegant and stylish.
This photo was taken in a room that is decorated in all white. It shows that a room without bold colors can be elegant and stylish.

Stripes

Stripes are a fun way to add excitement to a room. I prefer painting wide stripes over narrow stripes. I would also limit the stripes to only two or three colors. More than that can start to look psychedelic. Contrasting colors will look dramatic while slightly different shades of the same light color will look more subtle. Vertical stripes can trick the eye into thinking a room is taller.

Stripes are not hard to paint. In addition to the painting supplies listed above, you'll need a measuring tape, a level, a pencil, and painters tape to make a blueprint of your stripes prior to painting. I have found that it is easiest to paint the entire room with a base coat of the lightest color, let it dry, then tape off and paint the darker stripes on top of the first color.

Examples of Painted Stripes

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Different shades of pink and brown are combined to create this striped wall. Photo courtesy of bentleyteam.blogspot.comThis is our guest room before any furniture was moved in.  The vertical stripes add height to a small room, and the neutral colors leave room for various types of decor.Using two shades of green makes these stripes more subtle.  Photo courtesy of mekdesigns.com.You can create a border with one thick horizontal stripe along the room's ceiling.  This is easy to do and draws the eyes upward, making the room look taller.
Different shades of pink and brown are combined to create this striped wall. Photo courtesy of bentleyteam.blogspot.com
Different shades of pink and brown are combined to create this striped wall. Photo courtesy of bentleyteam.blogspot.com
This is our guest room before any furniture was moved in.  The vertical stripes add height to a small room, and the neutral colors leave room for various types of decor.
This is our guest room before any furniture was moved in. The vertical stripes add height to a small room, and the neutral colors leave room for various types of decor.
Using two shades of green makes these stripes more subtle.  Photo courtesy of mekdesigns.com.
Using two shades of green makes these stripes more subtle. Photo courtesy of mekdesigns.com.
You can create a border with one thick horizontal stripe along the room's ceiling.  This is easy to do and draws the eyes upward, making the room look taller.
You can create a border with one thick horizontal stripe along the room's ceiling. This is easy to do and draws the eyes upward, making the room look taller.

Murals

Murals are great, especially for kids' bedrooms. If you'd like to try to paint the mural yourself, an overhead projector can be very helpful. Use the projector to cast your image onto the wall you want to paint. Trace the image onto the wall and use your tracing as a guideline for painting. If you don't feel confident painting a mural yourself, hire someone to paint a mural on your child's wall or use a wallpaper mural instead. Choose a mural that can grow with your child so you won't have to change it two years down the road.

Examples of Murals

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Wallpaper murals are used in this princess themed bedroom.Chalkboard paint can be used to make a cute mural for a child's bedroom or playroom.
Wallpaper murals are used in this princess themed bedroom.
Wallpaper murals are used in this princess themed bedroom.
Chalkboard paint can be used to make a cute mural for a child's bedroom or playroom.
Chalkboard paint can be used to make a cute mural for a child's bedroom or playroom.

Paint a Border around Small Windows

Some homes have tiny windows that aren't worthy of blinds, shutters, or window treatments. If your home has some small windows, consider painting a solid colored border around the edge of each one. The painted border acts like a window treatment, adding color and giving the window a finished look.

Examples of Painted Window Borders

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These windows are highlighted with a dark red border which eliminates the need for a traditional window treatment.A light colored border is painted around these windows.  The light color makes the window look larger.Even large windows with shutters or blinds can be surrounded by a colored paint border.
These windows are highlighted with a dark red border which eliminates the need for a traditional window treatment.
These windows are highlighted with a dark red border which eliminates the need for a traditional window treatment.
A light colored border is painted around these windows.  The light color makes the window look larger.
A light colored border is painted around these windows. The light color makes the window look larger.
Even large windows with shutters or blinds can be surrounded by a colored paint border.
Even large windows with shutters or blinds can be surrounded by a colored paint border.
 

Faux finishes

Faux is the French word for fake, and in this case, it is used to describe a paint finish that is designed to look like something else, such as stone, tile, brick, and more. There are so many types of faux finishes that I could never write about them all. Sponging, ragging, frottage, glazing, dragging, color washing, sand washing, plastering, and crackling are just some of the options for faux paint finishes. Many of these techniques can be used on furniture in addition to walls.

Examples of Faux Finishes

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Faux finish courtesy of freefoto.comFaux finish courtesy of freefoto.com
Faux finish courtesy of freefoto.com
Faux finish courtesy of freefoto.com
Faux finish courtesy of freefoto.com
Faux finish courtesy of freefoto.com

Faux Painting: Multi Color Sponging

Any of the painting techniques highlighted in this article can be combined for a unique look. Accent walls can be painted with stripes or faux finishes. Subtle stripes and faux finishes can also be painted above a chair rail or wainscoting. Combine two or more painting ideas to come up with something creative for your walls. Whatever paint project you decide to dive into, make sure to pick a color and painting technique that you're really fond of. Making decorative changes in my home makes me feel good inside. It's fun to complete a project that makes your home more cozy and inviting than it was before. Have fun transforming your home into a space you really enjoy!

Please share any additional decorative painting ideas in the comments section.

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Comments 23 comments

Sarah Cunningham 8 years ago

Amazing article! Great ideas and I loved all the cool photos!


elyse 8 years ago

I can't wait to try some of these ideas in my new little home. You'll have to help me figure things out. :-)


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 8 years ago from Arizona Author

Thanks, Sarah! I took most of the photos myself (unless otherwise stated in the caption).

Elyse-I'd be happy to help you with décor ideas for your new home :)


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

I agree. Painting does take some time, but it can do wonders instantly. You've given me some ideas I had never seen before. Thumbs up!


Eddie Perkins 8 years ago

Thumbs Up. You have a great hub here and very informative. I can't wait to watch my  sweetheart paint the house.  I will think we've moved. Seriously, I'm going to Stumble Upon this. Thank you. ~ eddie


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 8 years ago from Arizona Author

Rob-Thanks for reading!

Eddie-Aren't you going to help your sweetie paint the house? :) I hope you do stumble this article! Thanks for the positive feedback.


AMY 7 years ago

WOW! YOU HAVE DONE SOME REALLY NICE THINGS TO YOUR HOUSE! THAT'S VERY INSPIRING TO ME! I GUESS MY NEXT PAINTING PROJECT WILL BE FOR BABY!


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

So right! When we painted our walls, it looked like a whole new room. I'm hoping to get some painting done on our new home this winter and see how I can transform it.


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 7 years ago from Arizona Author

Amy-Thanks for the compliment.  Painting a baby's room is always fun!  Can't wait to see what design you come up with.

RGraf-I'd like to get some more painting done this winter too...I really love Wainscoting, and I'm thinking about adding some in our entryway and main hallway.  I'm not sure if I want to tackle that myself or hire someone to install it.  It's so much fun to beautify my house :)  I love it.


Susan M 7 years ago

Nice hub! We just took out the wainscoting in our dining room (because it wasn't done well) and are repainting. An inexpensive way to update the house and it feels good to do it ourselves instead of paying $ to someone else. Thanks for the great ideas we may use some in another room!


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 7 years ago from Arizona Author

Hi Susan-I love painting my house. It's such an easy transformation. Saving money feels great too. Funny that you're taking Wainscoting out, and I've been wishing I could install some! I'm a little intimidated by that project, so it hasn't happened yet. Thanks for reading my hub!


Morris Streak profile image

Morris Streak 7 years ago from UK

I like your blending of two themes here, of staying content with what you have and transforming it into something you love. I believe such an outlook and attitude are what would motivate homeowners to 'own' up their homes. In way, learn to enjoy learning to fix it up. Good hub.


sheryld30 profile image

sheryld30 6 years ago from California

Wow!~ I definitely want to try this. Thank you soo much for sharing!! :)


shanel profile image

shanel 6 years ago from Seattle

Nice Hub - I am just installing beadboard in a guest room, and it is really transforming the space. Thanks for writing this.


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 6 years ago from Arizona Author

I had beadboard installed last year in part of my home, and I LOVE it! I'm sure you will too. I would like to do more in another space, and maybe some crown molding too. Enjoy your transformation!


Athalia Critcher 6 years ago

Wonderful information and great photos. Thank you!


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 6 years ago from Arizona Author

You are very welcome! Thanks for reading!


Tina 6 years ago

How do I paint a window border so all sides come out even and consistent?


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 6 years ago from Arizona Author

Tina-decide how wide you want the border to be, then mark that measurement on the walls all around the window. Tape it off along your measurement marks using painters tape. Does that make sense?


Rebecca 6 years ago

We have a den that we are planning to repaint to be more classic and a bit masculine. We are thinking of using a slate grey and forest green to create the effect of wainscoting. Should the darker green be on the top of bottom? Is there any other suggestions that might work to create a classic look? Thanks!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

Shawna, I really enjoyed this hub. Great ideas and lovely pics! I too am moving towards contentment in a house that would not be my dream home! Thanks for the inspiration. God Bless ... !


awnings sydney 5 years ago

Excellent hub, provided by informative and useful content about wall painting.


Hendra 2 years ago

Thumbs Up. You have a fantastic hub right here and very interesting. I can't wait to see my sweetheart paint our home. I will certainly think we have actually moved. Seriously, I'm going to Come across this. Thank you http://exteriorwooddoorss.blogspot.com/

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