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Need A Big Design Change On Tight Budget? These 6 DIY Paint Ideas Will Get You There

Everyone on the EHD team (and from the comments, a lot of you) have been itching to do something bold in our homes and there’s this courageous, awesome, “screw it, what’s the worst that could happen?” attitude happening. Sara even wrote about her thoughts and feeling on the topic in this post. This collective deep need is likely due to the perfect storm of long-time white-washed design content, the lack of visual stimulation from the outside world (thanks, COVID), and the daily staring contest we have with our walls (another big shoutout to COVID). So we thought that we all needed this post and for it to serve as a pep talk for us to take that chance and give our home a bold moment we are craving. And one that doesn’t require all of our money. Some of these ideas are VERY easy, while others may require you to bring out your Hilma af Klint and use all of that creative talent you’ve been storing inside. There is something for everyone, I promise. So let’s grab our brushes and get to it because your eyes are about to be filled up with a lot of design joy.

Let’s start with a trend because trends are fun:)

The Handpainted Scallops (Especially Pink Ones:))

design by katie sarokhanian, photos by kelly christine, from: “the kitchen coronavirus built”: a jaw-dropping, diy kitchen that truly proves the sky’s the limit

This has been the real surprise star of 2020. I guess if there is ever a time to go for with scallops it’s now! While they may not be for everyone, in the right space they add a heck of a lot of magic and whimsey.

Above, you might recognize that incredible DIY kitchen when we featured it a couple of weeks ago. Katie (the creator of that incredible DIY kitchen) started out using a stencil but then got bored so decided to freehand. She (and we) love that it has a touch of an organic feel.

But if you are someone like me who tends to need things to be exact, then feast your eyes on the two awesome rooms above. Playing with scale is something that you definitely want to consider when “scalloping”. The larger scale that Aileen Grodzinsky chose for her parlor room, is the perfect medium size so that it worked with both wallpapers. Then for Bre Bertolini’s little girl’s room, the sweet small delicate size gives it more of a traditional feel that perfectly pairs with the modern traditional style of the room. Here is a stencil you can purchase to help:)

design and photo by emma på långagärdet

But are you in the mood to get even crazier? Then mixing up the scallop sizes is also a great option. Who wouldn’t want to have that room as a kid…or let’s be honest, an adult who wants to feel like a kid? What, just me?

Ok, now let’s get into the next 2020 DIY wall paint star…

The Handpainted “Wallpaper”

design and photo by carmeon hamilton

I believe it was Domino who recently posted a headline that said something about the freedom of painting a custom design on your walls. I couldn’t find the article again but I’m 99% it was them. Despite not bookmarking the article (ugh!) it really struck a chord with me. In a year when basically everything and everyone feels completely restricted, finding moments to breakthrough creatively is so important and liberating. So why not try to paint your own pattern on your wall? If you mess up then you can just paint over it! Sure it’s time consuming but a lot of us have more time than ever to let our inner artist free. Consider it a budget-friendly therapy session. So let’s talk about these awesome examples…

First off, if you aren’t already following Carmeon Hamilton WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This woman has awesome, bold design coming out of her pores. The dining room above and the hallway below both are testaments to this fact. If you want to see her whole process in action, here is an Instagram highlight outlining everything on how she came up with the design for the dining room. For the hallway, Carmeon really loved this Kelly Wearstler wallpaper but said it was too expensive to purchase. So instead, she did her own version with her paintbrush (always giving credit to her inspiration, of course). Y’all, you can do this too. I believe in you!

design and photo by carmeon hamilton

But if freehand custom patterns are too much for you to tackle then let painter’s tape be your friend.

Above, Sarah Sherman Samuel gave her little girl a temporary nursery while their home was being renovated. Yes, this was the temporary one! When using painter’s tape to create stripes, the one very hard thing to avoid is the inevitable rough edges. BEWARE. Especially if you don’t have a smooth wall to work with. If that’s going to drive you nuts then I have another option for you…

design and photo by tanieka harris

Deja vu?! You are correct…kinda. Tanieka Harris was so inspired by Sarah’s DIY that she did her own version. But guess what? She used white gaffer’s tape instead of paint! That’s right I’m changing the rules just for a second. So instead of worrying if her lines were going to be rough, she decided it would be much easier, and just as awesome, to paint the wall tan and then add the white tape on top. Genius.

Side note: Look how effortlessly these stripes work in two completely differently styled rooms?? They both look incredible!

design and photo by tanieka harris

And can we take a minute to ooh and aah over her camouflaged striped dresser idea?! For this one, since the dresser was already white, she did use painter’s tape and a similar tan paint to create those stripes. But since the dresser had such a smooth surface, rough edges were of no concern. To see the whole room process check out her Instagram highlight🙂 Also, I have been waiting patiently to find the right post to feature this room in. When I first saw it, I immediately saved it (because, duh) and am so pumped to finally get to talk about it! Hope you all love it as much as me.

Ok, mooooving on.

The Bold (And Colorful) Accent

design by sisalla | photo by tess kelly

I think that while a neutral room will always be beautiful, we are craving COLOR. But what if you have a mostly neutral home and don’t want to go too crazy. Well, this is the perfect section for you.

design by jean-christophe aumas | via homes to love

Bookshelves, wooden banisters, special nooks, etc. can all be your one bold moment. We are really loving these saturated tones but even if you go for something a bit lighter, it’s still going to give you that moment of “o that’s cool” you are looking for.

design by caroline holdaway | photo by paul massey | via house and garden uk

I am not really a purple-y, red person but that wooden banister is SO GOOD. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s completely unexpected (as I guess all of these examples are) in the best way. I want to know the people that chose that color for that moment, don’t you?

design by allison pierce | from: working with what you’ve got – an $8k budget kitchen makeover with a lot of vintage charm

This home, that we featured a few months ago, is FULL of bold colors and patterns but this nook and trim are two awesome examples that are so doable.

design by front studio| photo by alice gao | via domino

But if lots of color is what you are after then just dive into the whole rainbow! Normally I am a bit “rainbow in my house” averse but these shelves just make me happy. Maybe that’s telling me something… More on that soon:)

The Partially Colorful Wall

This idea is not new but boy does it bear repeating. The partial wall gives you visual interest, depth, and color without the requirement of being an artist. Plus if you want to take a chance but are a bit nervous this is a great place to start because it’s a “partial commitment”.

Above on the left, Julie chose to go bold on one wall (and her trim) and it added this incredible, exciting focal point in her bedroom. So that is one option. Or you can go full throttle and paint all of your walls like Vios Architects did on the right. You just have to decide if you want to also paint your doors or stop at the frame. It’s up to you, there is no wrong answer.

But if you are wanting to move your partial wall out of the bedroom, let’s look at some other great examples and ideas…

design by vintage revivals

Vintage Revivals can do no wrong. This dark green partial wall looks super fun but sophisticated and made even more intentional by the peg rail shelf. It may also be a playroom but I would HAPPILY work in there any day.

P.S. It’s a little hard to see in this photo but there is an awesome large painted circle above the desk. So ya, it’s even better!

design by anthology creative studio

Now, this is a grown-up room that is INCREDIBLY chic but very happy. Those two unfortunately don’t always end up in the same space. Sure it’s full of beautifully curated pieces, but the playfulness of the large mustard border makes the space feel really welcoming. I also love that it’s a bit unexpected to have the color on the top part of the wall:)

design by sophia and simon cook | via the modern house

Lastly, I wanted to show that truly any room can have a partially colorful wall(s). This dining room is from the same home of the wonderful green and yellow kitchen by Simon and Sophia Cook we linked up a coupled of weeks ago. Color and joy seem to be paramount in their home but so is style. Basically, if you want a partially green dining room do it because it will look awesome and bring a lot of smiles.

The Color Blocked Moment

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a little one’s mid-century magical bedroom reveal

Color blocking has been taking the design world by storm for the past couple of years. But until recently we hadn’t put one of these fun beauties in one of our own projects. Then Julie, the paint wizard that she is, designed the color blocked nook above. This room already had some pretty great, bold things happening but the nook was brought to life by Julie’s design. And since everything was pretty geometric, it’s not the type of design you need a lot of experience to execute. I promise.

design by orlando soria

This beautiful bedroom and mural were designed by the one and only Orlando Soria for his new show, Build Me Up (with the painting help of the other one and only, Emily Bowser:)). What could have easily been a boring white box, is now a really cool and creative space. I think you would be guaranteed to wake up inspired almost every day in this room.

design by liz kamarul

I think it’s always important to remember your ceiling. It’s the secret 5th wall that can unexpectedly make a room SO COOL. I’m pretty sure that Liz Kamarul’s new kitchen ceiling proves that.

design by dvekati | via yellowtrace

But remember that color blocking doesn’t have to always include a bunch of colors and be full of different shapes. You can do something a bit simpler like this office dining nook above. It’s both subtle and bold and I like it:)

The Handpainted Mural

design by ysg studio | photo by prue ruscoe| via yellowtrace

Alright, I am going to level with you that this last section isn’t a DIY for the majority of us. But I have been seeing a bunch of stunning handpainted murals pop up in my feed and on Pinterest and they just inspire me so much that I had to include them. So if you are an artist that can take to their walls with ease and confidence to create an illustration then I am in awe. However, if you are like me and all those years taking art classes in elementary school have not stayed with you, looking can still be fun.

I do want to say that if you love the idea of having a handpainted mural or detailing in your home then please consider hiring an artist to create something beautiful for you! Yes, this will be an investment but if you have the funds it is SUCH a cool way to bring something entirely unique to your space. Plus we need to support the arts when we can!

design by nathalie lete

This space painted by Nathalie Lete looks like a total fairytale and I had to include it. I also really want to paint my door now.

design by esmé shapiro | via domino

This incredible mural by illustrator and children’s book author Esmé Shapiro was quarantine induced. Its purpose was to create guardian angels above her when she sleeps. So not only is her space unique and special but put a really wonderful intention behind it.

design by beata heuman | mural by the finished effect | photo by ollie tomlinson

Last but most certainly not least is a magical room by Beata Heuman. She is a big EHD design crush and this room does not disappoint. But the true star is the mustard toned mural by The Finished Effect. It’s just so beautifully done and captures the whimsy that all of Beata’s designs have.

If you can believe we are at the end. Did any of these inspire you to pick up a paintbrush (or tape) and get to mixing it up in your home? I would love to know. Or have you already done something cool and bold? I would love to know that too! Let’s chat about it:)

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credit: Design by Carmeon Hamilton


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46 thoughts on “Need A Big Design Change On Tight Budget? These 6 DIY Paint Ideas Will Get You There

  1. Such an amazing post but GAH that love you, mean it at the end is SUCH a buzz kill. Why oh why?????

    1. Robin, that phrase actually has a lot of meaning behind it for me and I do mean it genuinely. Hope you can read that way next time<3

      1. Hey Jess. I really liked this article. I think some of this is coming from the fact that the phrase was commented on in the “what do you do with bad decor gifts” post, too. I think some people’s reactions and feelings are better described there. Since this was you first post since someone mentioned it, I think people were curious to see your sign off. I don’t think any one doubts that you mean for it to be a positive, but it bothers a certain percent of your readers to the point that multiple people are commenting on it and at least 24 people from both posts have liked comments hoping to stop it. I am one of those people. This article was very good, but I find the “love you, mean it” sing-off inauthentic to the point that I probably won’t read your articles in the future.

        1. And if there is some super special, deep meaning behind it, maybe let readers in on it if you feel comfortable so they better understand.

          1. I agree. It annoys me because I think _ you don’t know most of us personally so how can you love us and mean it? Are we missing something here?

    2. Imagine being so bothered by a sign-off, following a wonderfully informative article, on a design blog. Aren’t there more irritating things out there right now, like, I dunno, people dying and many more losing their livelihoods because of a deadly virus? Have we as a culture lost the ability to ignore something that rubs us the wrong way, unintentionally, by a stranger?

      1. this is going to get very meta, but you commented on a comment asking why to bother to comment? It’s ok that people have different opinions. This is the internet after all! Just because you disagree doesn’t make someone else’s reaction invalid.

  2. I really don’t like the scallop thing. I thought it was just the pink but nope, I don’t like the blue scallops either. So unfortunately I can’t join Team Scallop.

    But I love the painted accents — the staircase and bookcases. It’s wonderful to see such pops of color after a few years of bland whites/neutrals on Instagram.

    1. I was so excited to find so many colorful ideas in this post! It seems like lots of people are tired of the mostly-white look that has been the trend for so long. These rooms look so joyful and happy.

  3. Can’t get on board with these. There might ne an exception or two, but I see it being too trendy, too much contrast, isn’t well proportioned, too kitschy, too much color blocking = no harmony, very raw. Some of it was done in communist schools and hospitals. Having seen that first hand, I say No thanks. Sorry gals.

    1. Yes, some might be “trendy” but that is the joy of paint. It’s very low commitment. Paint is cheap and easy to change

  4. I love so many of these. i REALLY want to do the scallops! my husband thinks it looks ridiculous. which only confirms that i’m always right.
    The yellow stripe at the top of the wall in the living room is gorgeous.
    MY FAVE is the final painted walls with flowers and pictures. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I saw that flowery house on a house tour somewhere (maybe domino?) and fell in love. it’s so dreamy…..

  5. Oh, such a delight! This postwas like feasting on a favourite design magazine in a classy waitingroom, you know, the magazines we can’t afford?!!
    Yummy eye candy inspiration plus!!
    Thank you for brightening up my otherwise woeful day. 🥰

  6. I’m just not loving the scallops but this post is, overall, a breath of fresh air! Nothing is white!! Hooray! I would also love a post on how you find all of these fab images.

    1. Color is needed!! And man it’s a mixture of saved Instagram photos, pinned photos, Pinterest searches, design site searches, interior designer website searches, random memories of seeing a photo and then somehow finding it. I’m sure they’re more I’m probably forgetting but that’s the gist. A lot of time and patience:)

  7. Love all the inspiration! I’ve been wanting to do a mural, but I’m not sure I want to commit to the time. I did hand painted clouds in my baby’s room years ago (only to move less than two years later), and that was enough of a time commitment. But some of the other smaller ideas seem fun, too.

  8. So much inspiration in this post! Bold walls may not be for everyone, but there are so many great renditions of paint treatments in this post. I’m sure anyone can pull inspiration from. Well done!

  9. Apparently the secret for super-crisp lines is 1) tape it off, 2) paint over the edge of the tape with your base color, 3) paint with your accent color! That way the teeny gaps under the tape get filled with your base color (i.e. white) not your color for colorblocking.

    Picked it up from Banyan Bridges – her whole thing is getting colorful with paint!

    1. I am sad they did not feature Racheal from Banyan Bridges! She and Liz Kamarul I consider the queens of color blocked murals.

      1. I’m horrified to admit that I somehow didn’t know about her until today! But then Julie saw her video today on the mural she just painted so we reposted on Instagram. She is SO talented.

  10. That last one looks like they got their inspo from Bemelmans Bar in NYC at the Carlyle hotel! The wall murals were painted by Ludwig Bemelman, the author and illustrator of the “Madeline” children’s books and reident of the hotel!

  11. These are great! Has anyone seen good executions of stencils in lieu of wallpaper? Could be more doable for those of us questioning our ability to channel Carmeon freehand.

  12. Great article. But you don’t know me so you certainly don’t love me and if you say that then you don’t ‘mean it’. Ruins the whole piece for me and makes me doubt the authenticity of everything else written.

  13. Hey, Jess! I am obsessed with so many of these. Do you think it’s possible to paint with pattern over textured walls? We just built our house and we didn’t think to ask whether we would have smooth or textured walls. Now I am bummed that I won’t be able to use wallpaper, but this may be an option!

  14. I love seeing the painted walls, especially the murals!

    I decided years ago that once I bought a house I would paint or draw directly on the walls because of an image I saw in a book while in grad school (art) in the 80’s from a Vogue article featuring Edie Sedgwick, an Andy Warhol protege. Edie is doing an arabesque on top of her wonderfully cool leather rhino with her hand drawn horse on the wall behind her. You can see it in this 2015 Vogue article:

    Unfortunately the living room walls of my house are wood paneled (they have been too beautiful for me to destroy – so far) so I haven’t done anything like that, but I have painted a murals. Both bathrooms have been painted, main bath has a version of Matisse Goldfish straddling a corner, the basement bath has ornate Gustav Klimt inspired patterning painted in two shades of purple with silver metalic pen and black sharpie outlines rather than his gold leaf and warm colors. Klimt painting inspo (one of several)

    I have also painted my Moluccan cockatoo (life sized) perched on a tall bird of paradise plant on a wall where her 5 foot wood jungle gym used to be.

    I have plans for a mural on the wall behind my bed, but can’t decide which idea (of many) I would like to do. I have been inspired recently by Lara Bezzina and her gorgeous mural with gold leaf: Eleven years ago I fell in love with a painting (with gold leaf) by artist Natalie Oswald, “Koi and Cranes” that I deeply regret not buying. Here is an art materials article featuring Natalie and her painting: I am also inspired by the Gucci Cranes wallpaper as well as several chinoiserie wallpapers featuring birds.

    So who knows what and when I will do that, decision and focus are in short supply right now! 🙂


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