Time to mix things up a bit.
When refreshing our homes, our minds usually go to painting first—painting walls, to be specific. It’s definitely effective, but it’s not the only option. Our spaces are full of things (and features) to paint that can actually be even more impactful. We talked to three designers well-versed in how to create a dynamic home full of personality, and came up with five of the best things you can paint to update your space that aren’t walls.
Meet the Expert
Amber Guyton is the founder of Blessed Little Bungalow in Atlanta, Georgia.
Shelby Van Daley is the co-founder of Daley Home in Austin, Texas.
Katharine Rhudy is the founder of Reed & Acanthus in New Orleans, Louisiana.
If your furniture could use a little love, consider painting (it can be less work than staining). “This is a great way to make what’s old brand new, and also a fun way to add color to your space in a non-committal way,” explains Amber Guyton, founder of Blessed Little Bungalow in Atlanta, Georgia. From dining tables and cabinets to end tables and headboards, the options are limitless.
When painting furniture, you have to first decide what kind of finish you’re looking for: distressed, smooth, perhaps high gloss? This will impact the kind of paint you choose, which in turn will determine if you sand and/or prime, as well as if you use a top coat or sealer. For those new to DIY and feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good idea to outsource the job, particularly if you’re looking for an extra smooth or high gloss finish. Those are trickier to get right and may result in the finished product looking like a full-on Monet—okay from far away, but a big old mess up close. (Name that movie!)
Trim, Windows, and Ceilings
“We love creating interest and detail in a space by painting the trim, windows, and/or ceilings,” says Shelby Van Daley, co-founder of her namesake interior design firm in Austin, Texas. “This is a great way to make a room stand out and create its own personality.”
Guyton agrees: “These elements tie a room together beautifully.” If you’re looking to make more of a straightforward update, you can pull colors from elements like the wallpaper, textiles, and accessories. For a space undergoing more substantial changes, another option is to look at the wall paint, either matching it entirely, going tonal, or picking something complementary.
Painting floors is more of a commitment, but as Guyton says, it’s “an easy and affordable way to elevate your space.” Imagine a checkerboard pattern in the kitchen or a striped back patio—so fun, right? This also kills two birds with one stone: an undesirable tile or hardwood too thin to be refinished again can be transformed into a conversation-starting statement.
The prep work is key though. Whether you’re painting tile or hardwood, the floor must be cleaned, dried, sanded, and primed prior. After painting, not allowing the floor to fully cure before putting furniture back can be risky as well. Does this all sound stressful? Consider delegating to the pros.
The most obvious color to paint your fireplace mantle is whatever your baseboards and trim are—but that doesn’t mean you have to. “I like to add a bit of contrast and paint fireplace mantles a color that complements the room’s color scheme,” explains Katharine Rhudy, founder of Reed & Acanthus in New Orleans, Louisiana. Doing so creates visual interest and gives the room a strong focal point.
Separate from the trim, doors are an entirely new opportunity to refresh your space. Guyton recommends painting interior and exterior doors charcoal or black for a more modern look, or opting for a pop of color on the back porch door.
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