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10 easy and creative ways to transform your home with paint

Giving your home a radical decorating rethink can be as easy as taking a new look at the palette and grabbing a paintbrush. Here’s how...

photography margaret de lange styling kirsten visdal colour design koi farge studio
Yellow wall and ceiling in ‘Old Ocre’ ‘Classico’ chalk-based paint, £39.95 for 1 litre Yellow door in ‘Old Ocre’ ‘Traditional Paint’ eggshell; and Door reverse and rim in ‘Soft Greek’ ‘Traditional Paint’ eggshell, both £59.95 for 1 litre Pink walls in ‘Soft Flamingo’ ‘Classico’ chalk-based paint, £39.95 for 1 litre, all Pure & Original (designstudiov.co.uk)

      Enliven a predominantly neutral space by adding a brighter shade of paint above the picture rail. This produces a strong result without requiring too much time and effort, or paint.

      mylands paint
      Above the picture rail in ‘Floral Street’; below the picture rail in ‘Greenwich Time’, both £51 for 2.5 litres of ‘Marble’ matt from the ‘Colours of London Collection’, Mylands (mylands.com)
      Photo: Mylands Paint

        2. MAKE SHAPES

            Turn your walls into artworks with graphic painted shapes. Use pencil to outline your design and mark out with decorator’s tape to ensure neat lines when you add the paint.

            paint and paper library
            Panelling and balustrades in ‘Blue Vein’ ‘Architects’ eggshell, £72 for 2.5litres Ceiling and main wall in ‘Flat Light’ pure flat emulsion; painted shapes in ‘Beyond Blue’ pure flat emulsion, both £50 for 2.5 litres, all Paint & Paper Library (paintandpaperlibrary.com)
            PAUL RAESIDE

            3. HIGH HOPES

            Don’t let walls have all the fun, give your ceiling some attention, too. Create a dramatic coving effect with paint in a contrasting hue to your walls to make the room seem smaller – ideal for creating an intimate dining or bedroom. If you’re tackling the whole room at once, start with the ceiling to avoid getting that paint on the walls after they’re finished.

            perfect darkness, milan photography giorgio possenti
            Walls in ‘Natural Slate’ matt emulsion, £16 for 2.5 litres, Dulux (dulux.co.uk) Ceiling in ‘Botanical Noir’ matt emulsion, £37.99 for 2.5 litres, ELLE Decoration by Crown (crownpaints.co.uk) Door in ‘Mister David’ traditional oil gloss, £34 for 1 litre, Little Greene (littlegreene.com)
            Perfect Darkness, Milan. Photography: Giorgio Possenti


            When it comes to decorating don’t ignore your doors. Instead of matching them to the rest of the room, add an unexpected jolt of colour and paint the surface and rim a contrasting hue to the frame and surrounding walls. It’s an enticing way to define the transition between spaces.

            Yellow wall and ceiling in ‘Old Ocre’ ‘Classico’ chalk-based paint, £39.95 for 1 litre Yellow door in ‘Old Ocre’ ‘Traditional Paint’ eggshell; and Door reverse and rim in ‘Soft Greek’ ‘Traditional Paint’ eggshell, both £59.95 for 1 litre Pink walls in ‘Soft Flamingo’ ‘Classico’ chalk-based paint, £39.95 for 1 litre, all Pure & Original (designstudiov.co.uk)
            Pure and Original Paint

            5. IN THE FRAME

            Accentuate classical details in a modern way by painting frames and recesses a contrasting hue to your walls. Tackle the frame first, followed by the door. To prep, remove the door and cover the hinges with tape. Clean the frame using sugar soap, dry, then smooth down existing paint with sandpaper and wipe off any excess. Apply a matt paint undercoat, then when dry apply a gloss or eggshell paint, something with a sheen, so you can easily clean it in the future. The more ornate the frame, the more time you should take as you want to avoid heavy paint blobs. Use a small brush to get into those hard-to-reach crevices.

            perfect darkness milan photography michael nygaard artcoustic loudspeakers
            Walls in ‘Palette Red’ matt emulsion, £51 for 2.5 litres, Atelier Ellis (atelierellis.co.uk) Door frame in ‘Midnight Blue’ water-based eggshell, £31 for 2.5 litres, Sanderson (stylelibrary.com/sanderson)
            Perfect Darkness Milan-Photography: Michael Nygaard/ Artcoustic Loudspeakers

            6. HEARTH OF THE HOME

            Treat your home like a gallery and consider how the colour of your walls and architectural features, such as mantelpieces, might enhance the artworks you plan to hang or position in the space. Here, bold primary, contemporary art jumps out against a complementary all-blue backdrop.

            project by roisin lafferty in dublin, photography by barbara corsicoliving inside
            Wall in ‘Cook’s Blue’ estate emulsion, £47.95 for 2.5 litres, Farrow &Ball (farrow-ball.com) Fireplace in ‘Mazarine’ intelligent gloss, £32for 1 litre, Little Greene (littlegreene.com)
            Project by Roisin Lafferty in Dublin, Photography by Barbara Corsico/Living Inside

            7. GET IN THE ZONE

            When space is compromised, paint is a great way to define areas. This awkward spot under the stairs has been transformed into a practical dining area with built-in seating that doubles up as storage. Woodwork (in hard-working modern eggshell) painted a contrasting shade to the surrounding walls adds depth, while leaving the ceiling white gives an illusion of space.

            farrow and ball
            Walls in ‘Sulking Room Pink’; and ‘School House White’, both estate emulsion, £47.95 for 2.5 litres; Seating bench in ‘De Nimes’ modern eggshell, £29 for 750ml, all Farrow & Ball (farrow-ball.com)
            Farrow and Ball

            8. MAIN ATTRACTION

            Anchor a light-filled hallway by painting floorboards a deeper tone. Use a durable oil-based floor paint, and start painting away from the main rooms so you don’t box yourself in while you wait for it to dry. Do test it out on a small section of floor and leave for 24 hours to see the result before taking the plunge.

            little greene littlegreenecom
            Walls in ‘Shallows’ intelligent matt emulsion, £51.50 for 2.5 litres; Floor in ‘Air Force Blue’ intelligent floor paint, £72 for 2.5 litres, all Little Greene (littlegreene.com)
            Little Greene (littlegreene.com)

            9. AHEAD OF THE CURVE

            For a relatively cost-effective bedroom transformation, create a headboard from MDF and add a pattern using chalk-based furniture paint. Extend the pattern on to the walls behind, creating shapes using curvy masking tape (try Tesa 4319 Masking Tape for Curves, on Amazon and at DIY stores). Stuck on what colours to use? Take your palette from a favourite artwork.

            annie sloan anniesloancom
            Wall in ‘Old Ochre’ wall paint, £41.95 for 2.5 litres; Mural headboard in ‘Scandinavian Pink’, ‘Honfleur’ and ‘Aubusson Blue’ chalk paint, from £5.95 for 120ml, all Annie Sloan (anniesloan.com)
            Annie Sloan (anniesloan.com)

            10. TWO-TONE

            For a modern interpretation of a dado rail, apply two different tones of the same colour to walls, but follow the double-denim rule with dark below and pale above. The height of the lower section should measure roughly a third of the wall, then the lighter hue above creates an airy sense of space.

            craig and rose paint craigandrosecom photography ben anders
            Walls in ‘Pompadour’ (above); ‘Braze Blue’ (below), both ‘1829 Chalky Emulsion’, £37 for 2.5 litres, both Craig & Rose (craigandrose.com)
            Craig and Rose Paint (craigandrose.com) Photography: Ben Anders

            This article appeared in ELLE Decoration June 2020

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