Paint ideas – 24 inspiring looks for walls, floors, and more
Get creative with these paint ideas to add character, brighten a dark room, or update your decor
Creative paint ideas can bring unique beauty to a home – and the more inventive they are, the better.
As Marianne Shillingford, creative Director at dulux says: 'The right paint colors can even make small spaces appear larger and reconnect us with nature. It has always had the power to transform on more levels than the way things look and we are only just beginning to realise its potential in our homes.'
We've curated our favorite paint ideas, showing how to introduce color in a variety of interior design settings to help you create a completely new scheme in your home.
Paint ideas – 24 looks for every room and surface
These paint tricks will inspire a whole new look for your home, perhaps just a room or even only a piece of furniture. Whatever, they have the power to create a dramatic transformation in hours.
1. Paint the floor for instant appeal underfoot
Isabelle Lomas’ client wanted a fun, inviting space for her kids' room paint ideas that would still allow for older guests to use the room, as it was also to be rented out. ‘We kept the walls plain,’ says Isabelle, who used Willow V from Paint & Paper Library. ‘This allowed us to incorporate a chequerboard pattern on the floor – a fun element that is also hardwearing. Isabelle thought this was a fun and playful idea that would translate well no matter the furnishings.
2. Use paint to update old furniture
Painting vintage furniture is a beautiful way to introduce new life and virality into a once-loved antique. Using colored furniture makes it easier to change up an otherwise neutral space. This works particularly well for bedrooms where children may grow out of, or get tired of, particular colors and pieces.
Sydney-based interior designer Tamsin Johnson developed this consciously sophisticated scheme with a rich green bookcase taking center stage. ‘The green antique French carved oak bookcase with soft yellow highlights anchors the room while the soft mauve linen bedding provides a tranquil element.’
3. Make your space pop
Chinoiserie is re-emerging as an influence in fashion and interiors but it has long been a key aesthetic for de Gournay, eminent specialist in hand-painted wallcoverings.
This bold interpretation is courtesy of French designer Vincent Darré, who created this stunning dining room color scheme for the private apartment of de Gournay’s Paris showroom. The primary colors of the scene dazzle against a black background and Vincent has emphasized this contrast by painting the window surround in a bold yellow and the skirting in a fresh green. The ceiling was painted black, which will give evening events an extra intensity, a stand-out look for ceiling paint ideas.
4. Paint stripes
Never really out of fashion, the classic stripe is having a particular moment right now and it's less about the country ticking look and more about adding personality through playful paint ideas.
We adore the formal yet bold style of this scene, like something out of the Mad hatter’s tea party. The stripe upon stripe lends the room a real sense of fun – and from who else but the oh-so talented table setting creators at Summerill & Bishop.
5. Include details through paint
If your space is lacking in architectural interest, you'll be amazed at what paint tricks you can incorporate to add intrigue to an otherwise simple scheme.
Using bathroom paint ideas in a room doesn’t have to mean optical overload. ‘This stripe detail adds interest to a room that has few architectural features,’ says interior designer Guinness, who painted neat parallel stripes along this bathroom’s ceiling, a great look for a modern, ceiling trim idea.
6. Use paint to create 'zones'
Gloss paint is back after years in the wilderness. In the main bedroom of this home in Notting Hill, designers Barlow & Barlow created a soothing scheme to turn their clients’ corridor into a dressing room. The paint color is Dulux green, 10GG 15/346.
As well as being light-reflective and available in a wide choice of colors, gloss is also one of the best paint finishes for high-traffic areas such as dressing rooms, hallways and landings, as it’s hardwearing and scuff-resistant.
7. Wow with statement color choices
Colorful homes are an immersive experience that leads from room to room. A carefully considered palette will feature shades that work with the objects in the room – such as these orange walls and the red kimono – and that also flow from one space into another.
8. Paint with a variety of colors from the same palette
When planning multiple colors, test various permutations. Stronger shades are used on the lower walls, inside and outside the room. The pink inside is used to frame the windows and complement the red-brown lower wall, softened by the creamy white above.
9. Paint paneling a warm color for an inviting, warm entryway
A hardworking and always on-the-go home space, entryway surfaces demand the toughest of finishes and savvy shade choices to keep them looking great for longer. When searching for hallway paint ideas, choose washable or even scrubbable quality paint, using a satin finish for woodwork. If gloominess is an issue, go for a silk finish to reflect any light for your paneling paint ideas is a good trick.
Colorwise, a neutral to mid shade will make the space feel larger. Using the same paint on walls and on doors brings a unified feel which is easy on the eye and counters hectic and heavy use.
‘For the narrow corridor of this Welsh farmhouse, we kept the color palette neutral and light to create an inviting entrance with a feeling of a calm,’ says Meaghan Hunter, stylist at Neptune. For a similar color, try Honed Slate matt emulsion from Neptune.
It's also worth noting that the right first impression begins even before your entryway. When thinking about the first room of your home, it is similarly important to assess the best hues for your exterior and, perhaps most significantly, the front door colors to avoid.
10. Experiment with color on woodwork
It's a classic choice and perfectly natural to reach for a white or off-white color when painting woodwork, especially in hallways, but by choosing a less obvious shade, you can create a far more sophisticated effect – plus you can use this color to connect to adjoining rooms that might use that shade as an accent shade.
Just as you would opt for a contrasting, harmonious or tonal shade when painting a separate panel on a wall, look to using that color on the woodwork instead.
If painting woodwork on a wallpapered wall, color match your paint to a shade from within the pattern, using that instead for maximum effect.
11. Build up ombre shades on your stairwell
If you are looking for paint ideas that create a visual trick, particularly around making a space look larger, an ombre paint effect – with darker shades lower down and lighter shades above – is a good solution.
And, if you are looking for eye-catching and space-stretching stair paint ideas, use it on stair risers in a graduated to make your staircase feel taller and grander. Tester pots of tonal color will work a treat as you won't need much to cover each panel, either.
The beauty of this look lies in its simplicity so decorate the steps and the hallway in a pale, neutral shade to avoid the remaining decor fighting against the soft, staggered colors.
12. Add layers of tonal color to make a space appear larger
Wrapping a space in warming layers of color not only creates a smart, cohesive feel, it can make a room feel bigger than it actually is. Patrick O’ Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball agrees: 'Carrying the wall color onto all of your woodwork creates the illusion of more space.'
Choose a relatively pale hue for the wall and pair it with a darker shade (of the same color) on adjacent woodwork.
You can either continue the look though to the rest of the space with similarly tonal shades on furniture and accessories. Alternatively, keep the rest of the furnishings in neutral tones for a more subtle effect.
13. Try a stylish paint effect that's contemporary, too
New directions with formulations and decorating techniques means dated paint effects have been replaced with sophisticated washes, textures and brushwork – perfect for living room paint ideas that add a touch of depth to a wall, a must-have in contemporary homes, which can lack architectural detailing.
Paints premixed with sand and chalk offer plaster, suede or concrete effect finishes. At the other end of the scale, you can introduce acrylic varnishes and even glitter to give a glossy glaze.
This look taps into the soulful decorating mood of the moment, picking up on Scandi hygge vibes and the artisan global influences.
‘This deep color has been used to bring interest and mood to the simple interior,' explains Bronwyn Riedel, co-founder and color creator, Bauwerk Colour. 'Painted over lime render, the soft, tonal finish is a counterpoint to the use of natural materials such as ply and the natural limestone floor.’
This is ‘Mountain’ from the Raw Refined range, limewash natural paint suitable for interior and exterior walls, Bauwerk.
14. Paint a ceiling in a bold shade
While most people tend to paint walls in a feature color, consider flipping the look by choosing a bold color for your ceiling instead. Compared to an all-white ceiling, a colorful one will add drama and personality to a room, while making it feel cozier, too.
Keep walls predominantly white – if you prefer, you can choose a subtle, coordinating shade below the dado rail - and pick a strong shade for your ceiling.
This look is especially effective when the same color is echoed on the walls in an adjacent room.
15. Paint a contrasting panel to draw focus
Just as you would add a rug to create a separate zone in a large room, a painted wall panel can do the job just as effectively. This can particularly work for dining room color schemes, drawing attention to the table, and creating an intimate atmosphere.
Here, a small dining area in an open plan room is pulled into sharp focus by the clever painted panel on the wall behind the table and chairs. Stretched up onto the ceiling, it creates a wrap around effect on the space, giving an overall cocooning effect to a spacious room with lofty ceilings.
16. Zone a room with color blocking
Color blocking is a clever way to divide a space, distinguish an activity, or change the pace in a portion of a room. Paint can be applied to create a backdrop to a desk space, define a reading area, or a creative corner. It's also one of those useful kitchen color ideas if you want to achieve a new look quickly – but ensure you use a wipeable paint.
Here, a faux backsplash feature introduces countertop activities in a tall kitchen and adds a splash of cheerful color. Adding bands of bolder hues adds a designer look to large and plain surfaces.
‘Dark units really ground the space and the horizontal block of green connects the kitchen with the garden beyond,' says Anna Hill, Brand Director, Fenwick & Tilbrook. 'Being a fairly small space, we kept the rest of the walls an off-white to keep it fresh and bright.' This type of paint idea is a good match for painted kitchen cabinet ideas, too.
17. Go for wraparound color
Looking for bedroom color ideas that are inviting? Warming paint ideas are always welcome in a bedroom. By taking the same shade across all surfaces, including paneling, skirtings, and even doors and window frames, you can make a space look bigger in just a few brush strokes.
It’s also a great technique for bringing together fragmented rooms, and can be used as an entire color scheme for a whole floor or house. Any shade can be used, but this cozy nutty color brings a snug element that suits a bedroom or cosy snug.
18. Get creative with painted furniture
Using painted furniture ideas is an easy way to create a unique look that's easy to achieve. Pretty-up a cabinet and coat a wall in candy stripes – paint is a chance to add a touch of whimsy to your decor scheme. What keeps the look sophisticated, not saccharine, is the edited color palette, grounded with a deep forest green.
Wall painted in Piranesi Pink and Pointe Silk. Floor, headboard, chest of drawers and lamp painted in a selection of Chalk Paint: all Annie Sloan.
19. Use paint to give children's rooms a smart finish
Strong kids' paint room ideas are a must since these spaces tend to be over-stuffed with toys, gadgets, books and... more toys. So, majoring on one main color, with a neutral accent shade can help it feel less chaotic and much smarter. As in other rooms, putting the same color – in different tones – across walls, woodwork and even furniture can create a sleek finish.
20. Paint a floor for an instant new look
It's likely that you will be using bathroom paint ideas to add character to a washroom, but you can create an all-over cohesive look with a painted floor, picking out a color that complements that of the walls, accessories – and even the bath tub.
'Painting wooden floorboards is an option in a bathroom,' says Lucy Searle, Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief. 'After all, this is a room that's unlikely to see heavy footfall. Your main worry needs to be ensuring good preparation of the surface, choosing the right paint – ideally one that's suitable for bathrooms – and making sure too that there is a protective layer of varnish so that the wood doesn't warp.'
21. Add bold color to unexpected places
Color can be used to emphasize and highlight architectural features, from painting cornicing, pillars or arches in contrasting shades.
It's the unusual that makes this particularly effective so so don't shy away from using bolder hues, provided you keep a neutral background to provide the colors with a simple backdrop from which to shine.
22. Use paint ideas to highlight architectural details
Paint is the perfect medium to bring personality, add a unique appeal and even introduce an element of humor to a home. It can be a simple idea such as color change on panelling, adding pattern, or murals for an exclusive décor element. For ease, use decorating tape to keep paint smart with clean edges.
23. Use paint ideas to create faux effects
When you're short on space, or just want to add a touch of quirky charm to a bedroom, why not paint a headboard on the wall?
Use masking tape to create the shape and ensure sharp, straight lines, then simply use a medium-sized brush to paint your design.
This example is from Farrow & Ball, painted in Incarnadine No.248, School House White No.291 and Breakfast Room Green Modern Emulsion.
24. Paint woodwork to match walls
When painting a small room, think about using color all-over for instant appeal. Snug room ideas are all about curating a warm, cozy space to indulge in at home, and what better way that through bold paint ideas?
‘I like painting small rooms in a dark color to make them feel cozy,’ says interior designer Amelia McNeil, who designed this scheme. ‘I even painted the window and architrave in the same blue so that the Phillip Jeffries wallpaper could be the main focus.
How do I choose the right paint color ideas?
It is best to go for paint colors that make you happy and have longevity. If in doubt, it is often advised that you consult the color wheel.
The Color Wheel is an essential aid when choosing color schemes. Created by mathematician Sir Isaac Newton in 1666 to explain the relationships between colors, it gives you an instant visual for exactly which colors coordinate and contrast to create muted, tonal or dramatic combinations.
In her book, Recipes for Decorating, Farrow & Ball’s color consultant Joa Studholme notes that we are embracing stronger shades when decorating our homes. These include a range of hues found on the warm half of the color wheel, such as reds and pinks to oranges and yellows. Much research has been done into how colours affect our mood.
‘Current trends show a real shift towards brighter colors with a clean-cut finish,’ says Sue Kim, senior color designer at Valspar. ‘When choosing a paint color, don’t forget to look beyond the walls – consider the ceiling, skirting, window frames and mouldings and how they can be brought into the scheme.’
Can I paint every room the same color?
There is no reason why you can't paint every room the same color. In fact, doing so can create a cohesive look for your whole house. There is an understated beauty in minimalism, something that we are seeing more and more of in the world of design. That said, you may want to add in accent color ideas through furniture and artwork.
Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title homesandgardens.com.
- Kate BurnettContributing Editor
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