How-To: Quick Room Refreshes Using Paint

detail of light
Give any room a new look by embellishing walls, dated furniture, and accessories with a fresh coat of paint.

Dining Room Refresh

A palette of bold colors and do-it-yourself paint projects give this dining room a fresh look. We choose two shades of blue for the table and chairs and created a two-tone effect to add interest to the furniture. Separate the painted and non-painted portions of the chairs and table with painter's tape. Semi-gloss paint works best on furniture because of its easy-to-clean finish, so apply several coats.

Wall Details

Oversize "caning" painted on one wall offers a bold background for bright hues. After painting the base coat, use 2-inch painter's tape to make the grid. Create 18-inch squares divided by horizontal and vertical stripes spaced 3 inches apart. For best results add angled lines last. With painter's tape in place, apply a light coat of acrylic matte medium before painting the top coat. Remove the tape as soon as the paint is set, usually about two hours.

Painted Floor Cloth

A scrap of sheet vinyl flipped upside down makes a perfect canvas for a decorative floor cloth. Cut sheet vinyl to size using scissors. Prime then roll on two coats of latex paint. Use semigloss paint for extra durability or matte-finish paint if you plan to protect the finished project with clear polyurethane. Mask off a border for the dot pattern. Make pattern guidelines using parallel strips of painter's tape.

Dresser Detail

Rescue a tired room with a fresh, graphic paint stencil used on a single standout furniture piece. The dresser's treatment works because it repeats one large silhouette design in stark white against a deep, saturated color. To re-create this look, enlarge a leaf shape. Cut as many leaves as you want from repositionable adhesive vinyl (find at a signmaker's shop). Place the leaf cutouts on the dresser drawers, apply a thin coat of acrylic matte medium, and roll on several thin coats of the finish paint. Carefully remove the vinyl when the last paint coat is dry to the touch. Use a utility knife on stubborn edges.

Scrap Art

Create wall art from leftover paint supplies. Brush stripes of paint or press paint can lids onto scraps of kraft paper for colorful wall art. Mat and frame your work for one-of-a-kind decor.

DIY Wallpaper

Using a supersize stencil, mimic the look of wallpaper for a fraction of the cost. Create a custom scene by randomly placing the stencil on the wall. Use stencil adhesive to temporarily attach the stencil to the wall. Fill a foam stencil brush with paint, then dab on newspaper to remove excess paint before applying to the wall.

Mirrored Lamp

Update a plain glass lamp with paint. Get the look of mercury glass with Looking Glass Mirror Paint. Spray several light coats of paint on the inside of a glass lamp base.

Modern Art Background

Create a graphic backdrop for a display of tableware, collectibles, and boxes by creating a speckled effect on sturdy illustration board. Speckle the board with drips, splatters, and fine dots of two latex paint colors. Apply a fine mist of one color to the illustration board with a specking brush (follow the instructions on the brush). Next apply large drips and drops of paint on the board. Add more drips by loading the brush tip with paint and holding it above the board. Repeat with your second color. Let dry. The highly textured effect is tough to sand out, so tack the board inside cabinets or behind shelves for an interesting background that can be removed later.

Decorate Storage Boxes

Add pinstripe detail to wood boxes with a flexible combing tool found at a crafts store. Paint the containers the lighter of the two colors, let dry. Mix glaze and the darker color, apply a thick coat, then drag the tool across the containers at a slight angle to remove the glaze.

Faux Bois Curtain Panels

For visual texture, embellish plain curtain panels. Here, we drew the look of wood graining on the 96-inch drapes using washable fabric markers then applied dimensional paint. Use a drop cloth because paint may bleed through the fabric. Start with thicker swirls and loops and fill in with thinner strokes.

DIY Tip: Linen, cotton, and natural-fiber fabrics absorb paint best. Always test a paint finish on a swatch first. As with all paint products, read the package instructions to ensure the best outcome. Fabric usually must be washed before painting.

Redo a Cabinet

Spray paint always makes for a smooth finish on large pieces of furniture, such as this cabinet. When the paint dries, coat the surface with polyurethane to add a uniform sheen.

Spray on a Mirror Finish

Mirror finish spray paint and a tree silhouette add vintage charm to an old window. Freehand-draw a design on the back of the window and then add mirror finish in several light coats. Or use a stencil to add a different motif to the front of the pane before spraying the mirror finish on the back of the glass.

Make a Blackboard

A pair of plastic frames organizes an entry with a blackboard and a corkboard. Paint the frames using no-prep spray paint designed for use on plastic. Spray the backing of one frame with chalkboard paint and reassemble. Insert a corkboard into the second frame.

Update the Furniture

If the wood surface is already painted or varnished, remove dirt or wax buildup with a household cleaner and rinse. Sand rough areas and wipe away dust with tack cloth. Apply two coats of stain-blocking primer and allow it to dry between coats. Roll or brush on two coats of latex paint in the direction of the wood grain. Use a brush to finish the surface with smooth strokes.

A New Life for Metal

Clean the surface with a stiff wire brush to remove flaking paint or rust. Wipe with a damp cloth and let it dry. Prime with metal primer and let dry, or use a paint specially formulated with rust inhibitors. Apply several thin coats of paint. If using spray paint, hold the can about 10 - 12 inches from the surface as you spray. Shake the can during the application to keep the color mixed. Spray lightly to avoid paint runs.

Update Your Accessories

When painting on glass, such as this apple dish, start with a clean, dry surface. If you use a pattern, tape it to the inside of clear glass. With an artist's brush, apply a thin layer of glass paint for a stained-glass look. For a more opaque finish, apply an additional coat after the first is dry. Paint slowly and gently to avoid bubbles. Using an artist's brush, seal the design with glass-paint varnish. If you want the look of frosted glass, use a varnish with a matte finish.

For a ceramic surface, such as this lamp, sand lightly to ensure paint adhesion. Clean the surface with trisodium phosphate (tsp) cleaner to remove grease and dirt. When dry, apply a bonding or ceramic primer. Let the primer dry. Brush on latex paint in a gloss or semigloss finish. You also can use a paint formulated for ceramic or porcelain surfaces. Allow the paint to dry for several days and take care not to scratch the paint while it's curing.

Painting Trim

Apply caulk to fill gaps between the trim and wall. Use a nail set and hammer to push nailheads below the wood's surface. Slightly overfill nail holes and dents with wood filler. Sand smooth when dry. Prime the trim. Paint vertical pieces with vertical strokes and horizontal pieces with horizontal strokes. Work on each piece from the bottom up.

Painted Rugs

Base-coat your rug material if desired. (We like to use the reverse side of sheet vinyl.) After the base coat dries, use a straightedge to guide your stencil placement. Apply your design in a contrasting color with a stencil brush and stencil, cleaning the stencil before moving it to a new section. When the paint is dry, seal and protect the design with clear polyurethane.

Fabric Update

Tape preshrunk fabric to plastic-treated cardboard, (place the cardboard inside a pillow cover so paint doesn't soak through). Use fabrics paint or an acrylic paint with textile medium added. Apply the paint in several thin coats to work it into the fibers. Heat set if required. Your piece can be laundered with mild detergent after 10-14 days.

Play with Coasters

Leftover spray paint is perfect for making these coasters. Purchase corner blocks in the molding section of a home center and set the pieces on small cans for spraying. For durability, spray the painted blocks with polyurethane.

Simple Artwork

Become an artist by covering two canvases with a coat of paint. Be creative like we were with these simple canvases.

Color a Table

Unfinished wood is the perfect canvas for paint. Sand the surface lightly, remove the sanding dust with a tack cloth, and then spray the piece with one thin coat of primer and several thin coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next. Protect the painted surface with two coats of polyurethane.

Craft a Place Setting

Chair backs coated with chalkboard paint provide erasable name "cards" for a dinner party. To take the theme even further, use the paint on a tray to create a menu board.

Update a Chandelier

Black paint adds instant style to the glass shades of this metal chandelier. Use an adhesive-backed stencil and paint designed for glass. Cover the shades to protect them from overspray.

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