Paint is the staple for any home decorating project, but it doesn’t always have to be about plain painted walls – there are plenty of ways to add interest with accent colours. With a little imagination paint ideas for walls can welcome depth to a decorating scheme and add architectural details – such as painted arches or enhanced architrave.
Probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to make a big impact in any room is with paint. Any DIY and decorating project with paint offers endless options when it comes to giving your space a brand new look. From bold brights to barely-there neutrals, accent walls to stripes, we have all the inspiration you need before wielding a paint brush.
What changes can I make with paint?
‘Painting a room in contrasting colours is a great way to create a dynamic space with plenty of personality’ says Judy Smith, Crown Colour Consultant. ‘Whether drawing a geometric shape on a bare wall or highlighting features such as radiators, skirting boards and window frames with colour. Using contrasting shades will add a playful and quirky feel.’
‘Versatile and impactful, the effect can be achieved by mixing bold and neutral shades, creating a variety of moods that will suit different styles of interiors.’
‘Contrasting colours can be introduced in a number of ways. Use natural breaks such as corners, alcoves, shelving, dado or picture rails to start and stop the different colour choices’ Judy advises. ‘Alternatively, a simple and effective way to use different shades is to paint up to a certain level in one colour, mask with tape and then paint above in a different shade.’
Whether looking to add architectural detail for a thoughtful dining room paint idea or creating a striking contrast with a dark ceiling as part of a bedroom paint idea, there’s an imaginative solution for every room.
And, of course, paint isn’t just limited to the walls, check out our guide to the best paint for furniture to add a splash of colour to an old dining table and chairs, sideboard or chest of drawers.
Imaginative paint ideas for walls
1. Balance the room using two-tone walls
Splitting a room in half using colour will make it feel cosier without dominating and keeping the top half white will give the appearance of height. Painting the bottom half a soft shade will act as an alternative to an upholstered headboard and save on budget too. Take the two-tone effect all around the room including any architectural features such as architrave and even doors. Here the colour changes along the bottom line of a row of cabinets, it’s the perfect trick to make storage blend.
We recommend FrogTape to help achieve the perfect clean line when painting with two different colours.
2. Add a subtle slice of colour to divide open-plan living
Open-plan living is hugely popular thanks to benefit of making smaller rooms feel bigger and creating a more inclusive space. While it makes sense to paint the original spaces in the same colour, to provide a sense of continuity, it does present the problem of not having defined zones for different activities. A great way of subtly zoning distinct living areas within the same open-plan space is by adding accent colours on architectural points of interest – such as archways.
Given it’s only a limited slice of paint coverage you can afford to change the colour seasonally, or when you switch up accent accessories within the room without huge expense.
3. Zone areas with an accent colour
How’s this for an imaginative way to add colour and character to a room? In this living space, the dining area is highlighted by the use of an accent colour painted as a backdrop on one section of the wall – which is then continued onto the ceiling above.
This thoughtful use of colour creates a dedicated zone. In this instance it’s for dining, but it could also work well behind a sofa or TV unit to signify a zone for relaxing or entertaining.
4. Get creative with shapes
To add an instant sense of fun to a painted wall try using alternative shapes. This fine example uses a semi circle of soft pink to create the perfect backdrop for a bed in a bedroom. Using paint in this way in a bedroom provides a brilliant budget idea in place of a headboard.
5. Paint the ceiling for ambience
This is a winning bedroom paint idea, particularly effective if you choose a dark colour to emulate the night sky, encouraging a sense of being enveloped by the darkness to aid a good night’s sleep. In modern new build properties simply paint the ceiling as you would a flat wall, taping off the adjoining fours walls to ensure a crisp line of separation. If you live in a period property with high ceilings you can afford to take the colour down to the picture rail, if you so wish.
6. Stencil a rug onto the floor
If you can’t find the perfect rug to suit your space why not try painting one instead? If you have wooden floorboards the decorating world is your oyster. Use specialist floor paint to fashion a rug design, adding a unique decorative touch for any room with wooden floors.
Here we see a geometric chevron design skilfully painted in an array of bright blues and corals with a pale grey border. Painting a rug is ideal in rooms with high traffic, such as kitchens and hallways because there’s no danger of slipping – unlike on the real thing.
To adopt this imaginative idea we suggest planning your design first, measuring the space and marking it out with tape ready to paint. Paint as many coats as necessary, be mindful not to make it too heavy as this is more likely to get scratched. Ensure you allow the colour to dry thoroughly before you place furniture back – lifting, not dragging to avoid scratching the surface.
7. Paint on a chalkboard
Add an element of fun to a family room with a splash of chalkboard paint. Paint a noticeboard with the specialist paint to create a family planner, for calendar events and weekly reminders. This idea is ideal for a kitchen or a child’s playroom to allow a little creative freedom.
8. Add texture with paint effects
To make maximum impact with your paint choice try using creative paint effects, which can add depth to any colour scheme. By carefully mixing two colours, in this case neutrals, from the same colour palette you can create a textured effect for your walls. This skilful painting method is ideal for making a statement without having to use patterned wallpapers.
This textured paint effect on the walls was created using ‘Stone III’ and ‘Stone V’ pure flat emulsion, both by Paint & Paper Library. The muted tones are offset against the strong contrast of the black metal accessories, while hints of orange and light grey on soft furnishings inject a warming, softer quality.
9. Fake architectural details
Don’t let architecture stand in the way of your design dreams – what is it they say, fake it until you make it! Create the illusion of alcove or archway with a clever application of paint. Simply measure out your design and type with a masking tape, then carefully apply your accent colour to create interest.
‘Create a cocooning effect for intimate dinner parties, with a rich-coloured feature wall, like this arch painted in Dulux Simply Refresh Ink Well’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux.
10. Pick out a picture rail
Create the illusion of ceiling height by painting above a picture rail. This simple, yet clever splash of colour helps to draw the eye up, stretching the walls up. It works best with bare walls, rather than decorated with wallpapers and pictures. Choose a bright colour to make even more of a statement.
11. Frame architraving with colour
Draw attention to decorative woodwork such as doorframes and cornicing by picking it out in an unexpected colour (not white!) and carrying the colour further up the wall to give the illusion of depth. Pick a striking, contrasting shade to add pops of colour around the room by painting a chair or a lamp base in the same paint. This idea helps to break up a solid expanse of painted wall, while adding an uplifting accent colour in the room scheme.
12. Position a half point with paint
If the dream is to own a home with period features, but you live in a modern space you have to think outside the box when it comes to decorating. For instance, if you don’t have picture rails, dado rails or cornicing adding interest to walls consider other ways to add these decorative details. We say fake it with simple paint tricks. As seen above we’ve created the illusion of a dado rail by simply using two contrasting paint colours – a striking green underneath a warm white. The effect creates a more characterful finish to an otherwise plain wall.
13. Make a statement with a painted panel
Create a zone of colour around a room’s main focus, around a desk area, a bed or a sofa. Using squares or rectangles mask off the area for painting and choose your shade. Indulge yourself with a colour you love but may be feel is too bold to use on all four walls, this is a great opportunity to give some braver, bolder shades a go.
14. Paint a continuous line for definition
Use an accent wall colour to break up a decorating scheme. This idea is most effective in a room where you have a clear defined eye-line from top to bottom, such as in a kitchen where the cabinets determine a base level. Using the bold of two colours on the bottom half will help to create the illusion of one continuous line around the room, even when the wall is free of storage. Choose a matching wall colour to that of the kitchen or utility room cabinets to help balance the space.
This method is an ideal small kitchen idea to give the room a sense of greater height, resulting in the compact space feeling bigger than it is.
What colours make a room look bigger?
When it comes to decorating, colour choice is always a matter of personal taste. However there are certain colours that hold hidden tricks. It’s no secret that decorating with white paint can helps to create an airy, open feel – therefore an ideal choice for compact living rooms or small dining room ideas.
Shades of green are easily identified with the outdoors and nature, aiding to create a sense of serenity. Soothing shades of green are scientifically proven to help us feel calm, and therefore are ideal for a living space where you want to feel completely relaxed and at peace.
‘A quick paint job is the best way to give a well used room a new lease of life’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux. ‘Whether you want a whole new outfit for the space, or just an accessory like a feature wall or an eye-catching shape painted in a bold colour.’