8 Designer-Approved Ways to Use Leftover Paint in Different Areas of Your Home

published Jan 16, 2021
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bedroom by Maureen Stevens design with an accent wall
Credit: Kayla Stark

A little paint can make a big impact in all sorts of spaces throughout your home. If you’re lucky enough to be sitting on a half-empty can of paint, you can use it to upgrade your place in an assortment of both stylish and DIY-friendly ways, even without another trip to the paint store! From stenciled walls to carpet-inspired floor designs and more, here’s how eight designers recommend using whatever paint you have left over from a previous paint job or DIY project. 

Stencil an accent wall

Your hallway is brimming with design potential; it just takes the right stencil and some leftover pain to tap into it. “I was able to a paint a stencil design on the walls of my entire hallway with a quart of black paint leftover from a room I painted,” says New Orleans-based designer Whitney Jones of Whitney J Decor. “If you only have a little leftover paint, you can do it on an accent wall.” The beauty here? If you have white or lighter colored walls, you can stencil with something darker right on top of that, no primer necessary.

Credit: Don Freeman

Paint a section of your floor

If you’re looking for a fun way to use leftover paint in an eye-catching color, William Cullum, senior designer at Jayne Design Studio, recommends painting a section of your living room floor. “You can create the effect of a painted carpet by keeping a border of unpainted wood,” he explains. “It’s easy to do yourself and much less expensive than a large area rug.” Talk about a win-win!

Paint a colorful accent piece 

A little paint can add a whole lot of whimsy to some of your decorative accessories. “You can use any color of leftover paint to adorn a vase, picture, or mirror frame and create a colorful accent piece,” says designer Jenny Madden of Jenny Madden Design. “If the piece is small enough, you may even be able to dip it in the paint for a dip-dyed look.” This latter method was used to create a gold and cream ombré vase in this kitchen by Madden, and it’s the perfect vessel for contrasting green eucalyptus.

Credit: Brian Bieder

Upgrade your bathroom vanity

Painting your vanity is a simple and effective way to breathe new life into a bathroom with some leftover paint. “Not only can a pop of color make a huge impact, but a vanity is also a breeze to paint,” says Grace Brackman, associate designer at Maggie Griffin Design. “Pair it with some fun wallpaper, and you’ve transformed your powder room.” Depending on the amount of paint you have left, you could also try painting your trim to match in a smaller bath, too.

Paint the inside of a shelf

Turn a small floating shelf display into the focal point of a room with nothing more than a couple coats of paint. In a recent kitchen project, designer Mark Lavender of M. Lavender Interiors did just that, painting the inside of a shelf wall above the sink with leftover paint from the kitchen island to highlight a client’s treasured assortment of salt and pepper shakers. “The dark color really accentuated the collection,” he says. You could try this in any space where you have a shelf like this that’s enclosed in a niche or simply use the same method for the shelf backs of a freestanding bookcase, hutch, or wall cabinet.

Pinstripe a wall 

If you only have a small amount of paint left in a can, designer Megan Hopp of Megan Hopp Design says to consider painting a thin set of stripes on your wall. “All you need is good quality painter’s tape, a small brush, and the tiniest amount of paint,” she explains. “You can add acrylic craft paint to your existing paint if you wish to adjust the shade. Just remember to check your tape with a level to make sure your stripes are straight.”

Revamp an outdated table lamp 

Even the teeniest amount of paint has enough power to turn a humdrum table lamp into a statement piece. “Line and dot designs can be really impactful on a lamp base to add some extra color and use up paint leftovers,” says color expert Annie Sloan of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. “Designer Cressida Bell used really small amounts of paint in a variety of colors to paint an eye-catching design on both the lamp base and shade [shown here].” 

Credit: Kayla Stark

Paint a geometric design on a wall

A geometric accent wall is an inexpensive yet impactful way to energize a room with just a little bit of paint. “Painting a geometric pattern brings interest to an otherwise ho-hum wall,” explains designer Maureen Stevens of Maureen Stevens Design. To score your own geometric accent wall at home, use painter’s tape to divide a wall at an angle and paint one side of the wall color-block style. If you aren’t working with a ton of paint, you can also use painter’s tape to section off the corners of a wall to fill with paint in the shape of triangles.