These 6 Smart, Simple Paint Ideas May Be 2021’s Answer to the Painted Arch Trend

updated Mar 23, 2021
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Some trends spring onto the home design scene faster than you can say, “open-concept floor plan.” Case in point: the painted arch. Last year, it felt like everyone on Instagram decked out at least one of their walls with a modern, colorful semi-circle of some sort, and for good reason. Not only is this paint project a fun way to dress up a bare spot, but it’s also incredibly DIY-friendly. You don’t necessarily need to enlist a professional or invest more than a few hours or dollars on creating this kind of pop of color. “It’s the perfect middle point of being feasible to execute as a beginner and having a decent amount of visual impact,” explains Nic Scheppard and Jenson Titus, co-founders of Very Gay Paint, a design duo known for making unapologetically cheery painted murals with an array of smile-inducing shades. “Archways can feel like false doors. That sort of playful addition to an interior feels like a result of millennials reaching an age where they have a bit more agency and time as far as interior design goes.”

Maybe you’re feeling a little arched out though — or perhaps you found the process of painting yours soothing and want to know what else you can tackle in the next room over? Either way, you’re in luck, because Very Gay Paint looked into their design crystal ball and came up with some tips and fresh ideas for your next paint project. If anyone holds the secret to the next big paint trend, it’s them, and here are their predictions.

Think beyond your walls

According to Scheppard and Titus, a fun coat of paint should never be confined to just one wall — or just your walls at all, for that matter. “We want to see paint in more places: Floors, ceilings, glass, [and more],” they say. “Throwing beauty and playfulness into unexpected places is kind of inextricable from queer art-making, historically. So we’d encourage everyone to do things a bit more gaily as we move into whatever comes next.”

With so many surfaces to choose from, your painting options are virtually endless, which honestly can feel a tad overwhelming. The first place you might want to consider from Scheppard and Titus’ laundry list above though is your ceilings. Scheppard and Titus took their own gleeful designs to new heights, literally, by painting a bunch of vibrant waves onto actor Darren Criss’ ceiling, the image of which was making the rounds on Instagram recently. The result? A retro, lounge-y living room vibe with floor-to-ceiling appeal.

“This was our first ceiling mural, and we essentially just tried to figure out how to translate what we had already been doing on walls to a ceiling,” they say about the project. “We felt pretty confident about executing curves and wanted to see if we could get the same precision up above our heads.” I’d say mission most definitely accomplished here.

While painting your ceiling with lines or shapes might not be as easy as creating an arch on a wall, Very Gay Paint says not to let the thought of messing up get in your head. “The biggest tip we can give is to get a gallon of your base color and try a bunch of stuff knowing that you can always paint over it and start again if it isn’t perfect,” they say. “Paint was intimidating to us at first, too, but the more we’ve done it, the more we’ve realized how low-stakes it really is to put paint on a wall because you can always just paint over it. “

Embrace your inner shape shifter

Why settle for a semi-circle when you can play with so many other shapes? The triangle in this nook certainly adds some extra oomph to this corner. If you want to experiment with multiple shapes at once, take a cue from Scheppard and Titus, who stuck with a cohesive color palette to make this simple geometric pairing happen.

If you’re struggling to figure out what kind of shape or shapes to paint, look to your architecture or furnishings for some guidance. To that end, a triangle or square feels right for a corner, since you can utilize the sharp geometry to emphasize those shapes’ linear forms. Something curved might be better where you have a horizon line across your wall for an arch or circle to originate from, an example of which you can see in the image at the top of this story. Take the time to make some sketches, which will help you get a sense of placement and how you might be able to best work your home’s architecture into your scheme.

Hone in on your hearth

Want to style out your mantel and turn it into a true focal point without buying a bunch of extra accessories? Consider adding a fresh coat to your fireplace. Scheppard and Titus’ array of bright colors, squiggles, and a large circle makes for a very eye-catching hearth, even when there isn’t a flame ablaze inside it.

Don’t be afraid of asymmetry. Extending your design from its central core across your wall and window frames creates a more dynamic, unexpected composition. You can also work some pieces — like a mirror, for example, as shown above — into your design for even more visual impact. Bonus points if that mirror then reflects shapes from a mural on another wall.

Create a hip “headboard”

Another unconventional place to add a painted touch? The wall over your bed, of course. A series of waves can be a great alternative to a conventional headboard, which can be seen in this rainbow-kissed bedroom by Very Gay Paint. Beauty sleep has never looked so good, right? This project really feels like the painted arch 2.0, since it’s still incorporating a semi-circle shape, only using uniformly-spaced bands of color versus a solid field of a shade.

They key to making this kind of headboard-free setup work is sturdy pillows, particularly if you like propping yourself up in bed to read or watch television. A design like this costs far less than a fancy headboard though, and clearly, it can deliver just as much visual impact in a sleep space.

Do the wave

Again, if you’re looking for a paint idea that’s just about as easy as a go-to arch, consider adding a bunch of groovy waves in a more amorphous shape to a room. Not only is this pattern a great way to experiment with different colors, but it’s also a design that can easily span across multiple walls for added impact.

There’s something decidedly retro about this particular pattern, especially in the mustard, orange, and brown combination above, but you can certainly make the look more modern if you go with a neutral, tonal palette. You could also stick to variations of one color for a fun, monochromatic twist on this treatment. Find a paint chip card you love and use those shades for your waves, or pick one color and ask for several tints of the same hue at different strengths for an even more subtle shift.

Master the mural

Want to take your painted walls to the next level? This setup turned a bare wall into an impactful mural that worked the room’s furniture into its figural layout. Two goddesses are “holding” floating shelves? Talk about a quirky lightbulb idea!

I can’t help but see Matisse’s paper cutouts as a reference in Scheppard and Titus’ mural here, but you don’t have to get that figural if it doesn’t suit you. Stick to simple shapes or paint some leaves for a touch of life, if you want something a little less angular and a little less representational. Don’t forget the space above and below your doors and windows. They’re primo spots for paint, too.