This 30-Minute Paint Project Is a Throwback to a Vintage Staple

published May 15, 2023
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You already know that paint, when used on walls, is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to transform an entire room. With the right shade, you can make a small space feel bigger, a big space feel more intimate, a dark space feel brighter, and a bare space feel cozier. But you don’t have to bust out a roller and a full gallon (or more) to see paint’s benefit. Sometimes tiny projects — like those you can DIY with a sample pot of paint — can go a long way.

Here’s a great example you might have seen in Apartment Therapy’s tour of the Philly home that color-loving Emma Chasen (@phillyfunhouse on Tiktok) shares with her fiancée Carolyn Chernous. Emma and Carolyn’s place is full of cheerful and whimsical paint projects, like squiggles painted down the hallway or multicolored abstract clouds painted on the walls and ceiling of one of the bedrooms. One of the projects that stood out to me, though, for its brilliant simplicity was the small scalloped ceiling medallion painted around the pendant light in the kitchen.

You’ve probably seen traditional plaster ceiling medallions in older homes, most noticeably the huge ornate versions that appear in Victorian-era homes. These sculptural pieces fit around the bases of equally elaborate chandeliers, making the whole lighting setup into an artistic display.

The version Emma and Carolyn created here feels like a cheeky update on that tradition — and one that’s way cheaper to pull off, too. Copy their lead to highlight a favorite light in your own home, whether it’s a pendant over your dining table or a flush mount fixture in your bedroom. You’ll need a sample pot of paint in your chosen color, a pencil, and a paintbrush.

First, decide on your design. Go bold with a squiggle or other geometric design in a bright color like Emma and Carolyn did, or try a simple circle in a neutral color if your style is a little more subdued. (For the perfect circle shape, you can DIY your own compass by tying one end of a piece of string to your light fixture and the other end to a pencil; then, pull the pencil taught and trace all the way around the light fixture.)

After you’ve penciled your design, use a small paintbrush to carefully outline the edges before filling in the rest. You’ll likely need two coats of paint, but the whole project will still take you only about 30 minutes from start to finish. And once you’re done, you’ll have given your space a faux architectural detail that brings focus to an entirely unexpected part of your space.