Color Month

9 Easy, Colorful Mini Makeovers You Can Do with Just a $5 Sample Pot of Paint

updated Jul 13, 2022
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various paint sample pots sitting on a table with some paper paint swatches
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Paint is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to change the look of your home. And here’s a secret: You don’t even have to purchase a whole gallon or even a quart of your chosen paint color to transform a part of your home. For many projects, a sample size container — just 8 ounces, and often less than $5 — will do the trick.

Small DIYs are the perfect way to try out a new color, or to give your home a refresh in an afternoon, or to use up the last of your leftovers from other projects you’ve taken on around your home. Take inspiration from these 9 projects, which all use a small amount of paint to make a major impact.

Credit: Studio DIY

1. Make DIY rainbow shelves.

Kelly of Studio DIY recently transitioned her son’s colorful nursery into a big kid’s room, and part of the transformation was this rainbow bookshelf wall. The shelves put favorite books on display and double as wall art. For a more toned-down take, try using just one color in various shades for an ombré effect, or select a few colors that go together for a more curated palette.

2. Make the back of a bookshelf pop.

Give your favorite books the backdrop they deserve by painting the back of their home shelf in a bold hue. You can choose a zippy one like vintage seller Jaimee Dormer did for her pegboard-backed shelf above, or pick a more neutral but still impactful dark gray or even black. If you really want to make a statement, try painting each shelf a different color — you can select varying shades of the same color for an ombre effect, or complementary colors for a more whimsical feel.

3. Accent a window frame.

Designer Ashley Gilbreath gave the bathroom in her Camellia Cottage project an extra special touch by painting the trim around the window and medicine cabinet an unexpected rich green-blue. The color references the tones in the wallpaper, and gives the whole room an elevated look. Try this in your home by bringing your favorite pattern (whether from wallpaper or textile) to the hardware store for a perfect color match — you’ll only need to buy a tiny pot of paint to pull it off.

Credit: Tim Hargett

4. Paint a mini focal wall.

Accent walls are still going strong, but painting a whole wall takes hours — and more money than you might be willing to part with, if you have to buy a quart of paint or more. But a mini accent wall, which can include just a stripe of color or a cool asymmetrical shape as seen above in jewelry designer Bobbi’s home, can be done in an hour flat with just a sample can of paint. Need inspiration for designs? Check out Bobbi’s home tour to see even more creative paint projects.

Credit: Bev Wilson

5. Give a teeny hint of color to your furniture.

What makes nice furniture turn into wow furniture? The details. You don’t need much paint to help bring those built-in touches to the fore, either. Take inspo from this headboard, which was made from repurposed vintage shutters by homeowner Bev Wilson. Using a contrasting color to paint just the inside edges of the panels makes those pop and helps add even more dimension to the headboard. You can copy Bev’s look, or use a sample pot of paint to bring out other noteworthy elements, like turned legs, appliqués, and more.

6. Add a mural to an empty wall.

You’ll need a few sample cans for this project, but it perfectly demonstrates the creative freedom sample sizes give. Mandi of Vintage Revivals wanted to create a mural for her daughter’s room, so she worked with Colleen Elizabeth to create a large-scale paint by numbers. Buying each of the colors as full gallons could have made Mandi par down her selection, whereas by using sample cans, she could lean into a full color palette without blowing her budget.

7. Create colorful tiles.

Love the look of custom tiles but not their price tag? Brittni of Paper & Stitch has the project for you. Using house paint (and a polyurethane seal), she transformed basic peel and stick tiles to look like trendy cement tiles. She also notes that all the supplies came in at under $1 per square foot. With just a sample size can of paint, you can create a renter-friendly backsplash.

Credit: Lara Bezzina

8. Give a small piece of furniture a total color redo.

DIYer Lara Bezzina is a creative whose style is bold, colorful, and eclectic — but her off-the-rack IKEA shoe cabinet? Not so much. To bring the boring basic up to her standards, Lara used the same paint left over from her hallway beadboard makeover and added new handles to give her HEMNES a fresh spin. This project is a not only a great way to use up leftovers, but you could easily pull it off with a small can of sample paint, too.

Credit: Cat Meshcia

9. Jazz up existing art.

Sometimes just a pop of color is needed. Here, the bright yellow paint on the inner rim of this picture frame coordinates with another piece on the gallery wall. Another idea for adding some zip to art you already have: Paint an accent shape behind your art to highlight the frame.

This piece is part of Color Month, where we’re showing you the best ways to inject more color into your home and life. From paint color combos to vibrant house tours, head over here to see it all.