These 6 Eye-Catching Designer Paint Projects Are Easier Than You Think

published May 14, 2022
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a variety of used paint brushes in glass jars. a pair of gloves sits on the table next to them
Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Paint is one of the simplest yet highest-impact DIY projects you can take on at home. With the right color and the right plan, paint can help make a room look bigger, cozier, taller, or even shorter. Of course, paint isn’t limited to walls, either — there are tons of things at home you can transform with a fresh color.

Searching for some inspiration for jazzing up your current space with paint? Look no further. These six designer-approved paint projects made a splash at Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool design showcase, and they’ll work in your home, too. Better yet: They’re all easier to pull off than it might seem. Read on to learn more.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Go big with colorful stripes.

Designer Jenna Pilant’s room — aptly named “Walls That Wow” — is all about the punchy pattern that surrounds the dining table. For these multi-colored, multi-sized stripes, Jenna used a whopping 11 Behr paint colors. The wide variety of vibrant tones made a huge impact here, but you can get the look at home with a smaller collection of colors, too. Like Pilant, you’ll need to use painter’s tape to get these crisp lines.

Start by marking where you’d like the lines to fall. For a look like Pilant’s, you can mix up the widths to get a more whimsical look. If you want something a little more structured, keep the lines spaced evenly. Then, start from one end of the wall and apply the tape where you’ve marked your lines for your first round of stripes (a laser level will help you make sure it’s totally straight). Paint in your chosen color, remove the tape, and wait until that paint dries to apply your next block of tape lines. Repeat until you’ve finished all your chosen colors.

There are two other easy paint projects hidden in this room, too. One: Paint the backs of open cube shelving units in different colors to create an energizing feature wall. The other? Fill those cubes with various decorative objects all painted the same shade. Here, white helps them all stand out against their rainbow-hued background.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Give wallpaper some pop.

In her “Collector’s Eye” space, designer Peti Lau chose to layer multiple textures and patterns to create a cozy, curated look. So instead of paint on the walls, she reached for wallpaper with a delicate geometric pattern. But, since this space is all about layers, Lau wanted to give her wallpaper a little something extra. To that end, Lau added vertical stiles and horizontal rails on the bottom of the walls to play on the look of board-and-batten. An earthy rust color helps the moulding stand out, and ties in to the other natural wood tones in the room.

To get this look at home, apply wallpaper — pasted or peel-and-stick — before nailing up moulding that you’ve painted in a contrasting color.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Choose a monochrome look, but add texture with paneling.

The “California Cool” space, designed by Kyle Ortiz, is all about bringing relaxing vibes to a bedroom. So here, Ortiz didn’t want to go bold — instead, he wanted the walls to match the chilled-out style of the furnishings. “Relaxed” doesn’t have to mean boring, though. Rather than painting and calling it a day, Ortiz added texture with vertical wood paneling to just one wall behind the bed. Then, he painted all the walls the same breezy green to provide cohesion.

Get the look by creating a textured focal wall — using paneling, textured wallpaper, or other moulding — and then painting it to match the rest of the walls in the room.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Accent a doorway.

Designer Carmeon Hamilton’s “Boho Beauty” space is a feast of bold geometric patterns and funky textures. No space is ignored, including the doorway, which showcases a cool triangle-shaped trim that’s painted a sleek black.

Get the look in your own space in two ways: First, you can nail actual wood triangle pieces to the wall, as Hamilton did, and paint them in a color that either complements the surrounding wall color or contrasts with it. Or, you can skip the power tools and instead use tape and protractor to map out triangles all the way around your door frame. Paint in the triangle spaces with the color of your choice, remove the tape, and marvel at your statement-making doorway.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Paint furniture to match your baseboards.

This living room, the “Happy@Home” space designed by Jordan Ferney, brings a lot of colors into the mix: mustard yellows, bright reds, poppy oranges, soft greens, and more. One trick that helped Ferney’s space feel a little more collected, though, was choosing a single paint color for the room’s baseboards and its tall bookshelf. Painting them to match gives the illusion of being one single built-in piece, making the room look both bigger and more high-end.

Copy the look in your own home by choosing a non-white color for both your baseboards and your shelving — it’s like getting instant built-ins without having to pick up a single hammer.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Go dark with your wainscoting.

White is a popular wainscoting color, but it doesn’t have to be your only option. See: this dramatic “Bespoke Style” office space designed by Sourya Venumbaka. To create her high-contrast walls, Venumbaka started with a checkered wallpaper on top (stamped with her own floral designs for a little extra character). Beneath it, she installed wainscoting in an on-trend picture frame style, and painted the whole assembly a deep gray. The dark color on bottom gives the room a sophisticated flair, and better highlights the eye-catching DIY wallpaper above.