Wall Painting Ideas

Walls are a big visual surface - here are some wall painting ideas to turn them into a suitable background for your interior design. Color is a major issue, but structure plays a role too. Adding some painted decorations might be an idea as well.

wall decorating with masking tape

Wall painting ideas on color

No matter what paint color you choose: walls are a big visual surface, and it may be difficult to visiualize the effect of a color when you have a whole wall of it. House paint software can help: you upload your own picture in it, and color the walls in it with a paint color of your choice. After choosing, you do need to try (big) sample strips, to check if the colors really match to your furniture, and screen colors always differ a bit from real life. But it's a great tool for making a design.

Another good resource: the paint color cheat sheets. It's a list of paint colors that were used over and over again by an interior decorator, along with guidelines on lighting and matching to other colors. Click here for a review.

Walls make a big visual surface, and colors like that may affect your mood. Click here for some notes on color and mood and here for color schemes.

Dark walls or light walls?

White walls reflect the most light, so white is good when you don't have much light. If that's too 'clinical', take an offwhite. But if you like your walls to 'disappear', you can do that by making them very dark as well. Light can just as well be created by good lamps. Closets and seats will be like islands in a big dark cosmos. Colored walls will have a tendency to come forward - especially if you take warm colors (reds, orange). It's best to either shade them (give every wall a different shade), or make only one (accent) wall in this color.

Wall stencils, wall stickers and decorations

Wall decorations can be made with the help of wall stickers, or stencil painting. Wall stickers work really fast and can be removed, and stencils allow precise color matching. Chalkboard paint is also an option - you just paint a square of it, and your kids do the rest. Some wall stickers are actually removable. But in stencil painting you can have a much bigger variety of designs and colors (as you choose the colors yourself). Here are three adresses for stencils:

  • Stencil Ease has good material for contemporary styles, pictural stencils or lettering.
  • For the biggest choice of interior decorating stencil designs, go to the stencil Library. Beautiful designs from all style periods.

  • Some of these designs (floral and art-deco) can be found in ThePaintStore.com
  • It's a good idea to make a scetch before actuall painting on the wall, you might prepare a piece of carton or drywall for that, with the wall color on it. When choosing colors for stencil painting, it's a good idea to use colors that are already in the room. (click here for making a color scheme).

    Wall painting ideas on shading

    shaded walls

    Sometimes it's good to give some walls a different shade or color.

    • When you want colored walls, using different shades or neighboring colors can make the room more lively
    • Walls with a windows in them always look darker - you can balance that effect by painting them with a lighter color
    • One accent wall can be used to point out the focus of the room.
    • When you paint on wall decorations with the same (but a slightly darker) color, the effects will be modest and classy. Eventually, use wall stencils for that.

    Wall paint

    The kind of wall paint you need depends on the underlying paint coat. If it's latex, paint it over with latex (which is available in different qualities) and acrylics should be painted over with acrylics. click here for more on painting materials for wall painting techniques, and here for painting over laminate. If possible, take latex paint, because latex paint can breathe. You can paint latex over oil based paint, if you do a shellac layer first.

    Some ideas for special feature wall paints: chalkboard paint or heat reflective paint. The latter can actyally save on your energy bill (click on it and find out more).

    Wall painting ideas - smooth or structured walls

    Smoothness or structure partly defines the styling of your walls. Structure creates a visual liveliness, but for some designing styles it just doesn't work. That's a matter of taste... Click here for tips on painting over wallpaper and here for more on wall painting techniques.

    Most paints don't hide 100% in the first layer, when you paint over a wall in a different color. The underlying paint color influences the look of the top coat color - warm colors look best painted over a light background, and cool color look best painted over a neutral or darker background. Click here for more tips on layering colors

    Wall painting ideas on decorations

    Of course, the kind of decoration depends on your designing style. In general, it's best to take modest shades for wall decoration. When you make decorations with a few closely matching colors, and you create a regular pattern, not much can go wrong.

    When making a wall painting, it's best to create an extra color scheme for it - or use the same color scheme as you did for the rest of the room. Then the wall painting will blend into your design all by itself.

    ancient wall decoration

    Painting stripes

    Stripes can be painted with the help of masking tape. First you prime the whole wall in one of the stripe colors. Let the paint harden out for a few days before you put masking tape on it, and remove the tape as soon as you painted the stripes with the other color. After that, a transparant laquer (with a bit of the darker color in it) can be applied over the whole wall, then it will look as if the wall is made of one "fabric".

    Faux painting ideas for walls

    Faux finishing can be done with ordinary latex paint. You do a colored layer or primer, and after that you paint it with a mixture of transparant binder (blend 'n' glaze, or acrylic laquer) and latex paint, 3:1. If you paint reds, do it dark over light - and if you paint blues, add some white to the glazing as well. But real plaster finishes or loam can be an option too. They're real materials, and help regulating the moisture as well.

    Other wall painting ideas

    • If you have time, think of color washing
    • When you do single painted decorations: try to do things in one stroke, and keep it simple. The results will be natural and impressive. If you went wrong: just paint it over with the base color and try again.
    • Decorative painting tip: paint forms just a shade darker than the base color - it will look like shadows.

    Fool-proof guide to making color schemes

    Related pages:

    Oil Painting Techniques

    Acrylic Painting

    Watercolor painting

    Color Schemes

    Interior Painting techniques

    Interior Painting Ideas


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