Ring the changes with 5 simple paint projects

January. A new year, possibly a vow to stay sober until February, credit cards to pay off, and a few more months of winter gloom to survive. It’s a natural time for us to want to make a change at home, to breath new life into our familiar surroundings and give ourselves – and our decor schemes – a feeling of forward motion, meeting the year that is just beginning. New colour trends will be announced for the year, and the temptation to re-do every room can be overwhelming. However in the spirit of starting only projects that can safely be completed before spring, we instead recommend an update rather than an overhaul. There are plenty of other bits of the home that would benefit from a refresh other than the walls exposed when you threw the Christmas tree out. Here are 5 paint projects to bring a new look to often overlooked areas of the house, and each one will cast your space in an invigorating new light.

pale green kitchen

Image by Simon Brown for House & Garden

Paint the woodwork

Painting the walls of your home without giving proper consideration to the colour of the surrounding woodwork is like wearing shiny new shoes with hole-riddled socks. The skirting boards, bannisters, alcove shelves and doors of your home are all ripe for colour, and by giving a fresh tone to these details you can completely change the feel of your room and give a whole new take on your existing wall colour. A crisp, clean white is the obvious choice, but why not be a bit more adventurous? Try skirting boards one shade darker than your walls for a subtle, unified feel, or pick a pretty contrasting shade for a more dynamic approach. Selecting a wall colour from a neighbouring room as the woodwork colour next door is a great way to bring a sense of harmony and flow to your whole home.

green ceiling

Image from House & Garden

Change your ceiling colour

Let’s be honest, this is one decorating job that often gets left, meaning while your wall colour can change every few years, you might still have a ceiling that was last painted in the 80s (I know I do). A fresh coat of paint on the ceiling however will lift the whole room, making the wall colours sing again and increasing a feeling of lightness above you (important in these darker months). However this is also a great place to take a risk – the default white may not be the best colour for your room. Instead try a very pale pink for a feeling of warmth in a north-facing room, or a sunny yellow for your kitchen. In a small room like a bathroom a jewel-coloured ceiling can transform the space into a secret gem – and you can admire your handiwork every time you recline in the bath too.

Farrow & Ball

Customise your floor

The floor of your home is a massive area, and its colour has a huge effect on how the whole of your space will feel. Anyone who has moved into a house with grotty carpets will know how liberating it can feel to rip up an old shag-pile, and the increase in how spacious the room feels afterwards. Taking the plunge and painting your floor can feel equally dramatic and exciting, and is a comparatively affordable way to make a big difference to your scheme. Traditionally floor paint has come in white, black and grey – all great options – but these days you can match your floor to pretty much any wall you want. A dark aubergine floor with black walls, for example, creates instant drama and intimacy. A grey-pink will subtly warm up your space, while fun bright colours are ideal for kids rooms or kitchens. Feeling creative? It’s only paint, so why not try painting in a ‘rug’ edge around your room, Skandinavian style, or rainbow stripes down the stairs?

Design Soda updated her stairs with All White and Shaded White by Farrow & Ball

Set your stairs apart

As paint projects go, admittedly you might have to place a ban on anyone going upstairs for a day or two – but the revivifying effect of painting the stairs will be well worth it. Painting the stairs will transform a space you pass through numerous times a day without really thinking about it, into an event. Ascending a deep red staircase to bed, or sailing down a set of blue treads each morning will really bring some drama and fun into your space. There are endless variations on how to do it – paint the whole of the stairs of course, or just paint the treads, or just the risers. Paint each tread or riser in the same colour, or pick graded shades of a specific hue for each step. Make them black, white, black, white. Or get creative and paint a striped runner down the centre (simply measure and masking tape off the stripes). The effects and even optical illusions you can create are all up to you – time to make fetching your phone from another floor a joy not a chore.

black window frames

Shade your windows

The most fiddly of our paint projects, this one, as you will need to get busy with the masking tape. But painting your window frames will completely change not just the feel of your overall scheme, but also the view outside! A fresh coat of white will make a huge difference in itself – I was amazed how much much lighter and cleaner my whole house felt when I did this recently. However going for a colour will make an even more pronounced. That might be a softer shade than white that fits better with your current colour scheme – warmer, antique whites or soft greys are more forgiving next to pale walls than traditional brilliant white. For both traditional and modern homes alike though, a really dramatic look for 2018 would be black window frames. Graphic and arresting, a dark window frame will change the whole dynamic of your space, making the interior feel cosier and highlighting the view outside. Smart and chic, it’s an instant way to add interest to your room – and it will make whatever you see outside into an instant, framed work of art. Even if it’s just the bins.

Ros Anderson


Ros Anderson is an interiors journalist and blogger who has worked for The Guardian, Elle Decoration, Ideal Home and many more. In 2009 she co-founded cult interiors blog My Friend's House with Jill Macnair, as a place to write about design in a more honest, spontaneous and humorous way.

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