Have a lot of leftover paint sitting around and unsure what to do with it?! A bold accent wall can be a great way to DIY in a budget-friendly and eco-friendly way. This post shows you how to create an accent wall using leftover paint from finding design inspiration to the actual How-To application.
Do you have a stash of leftover paint sitting on a shelf or in a garage somewhere? Almost everyone who’s ever done a paint project tends to have some leftover. Sometimes it can be most of a gallon of paint and other times maybe it’s just some small samples. We are definitely guilty of having a stash of paint in our home.
We do our best to DIY sustainably and find ways to use leftovers like paint when we can. It reduces waste and saves money in the long run. So we decided to add a pop of color and design to our small workshop (aka our garage) using only what paint we had on hand. We’ll walk you through our design process and the actual creation of a bold graphic design accent wall made from leftover paint. We hope this inspires and helps you to DIY an amazing accent wall in one of your own spaces.
Painted Accent Wall Materials & Tools
- Leftover Paint
- Our Color – Behr Paint Midnight in the Tropics
- 3/8″ Nap Paint Roller
- Painter’s Tape
- Angle Brush
- Measuring Tape or Laser Level
For Patching & Repairs
Use Leftover Paint For Graphic Accent Walls
Paint and a little creativity can truly transform a space! You just have to look beyond painting a simple “accent wall”. To really change the feel of a space, consider a bold graphic design like we did, or a wallpaper-style painting. You won’t need much paint for a small feature like this, so this is a great opportunity to use up leftover paint!
Not Wasting Paint Helps Reduce Waste
As a family, we strive to live big while leaving a little footprint on our environment, which is why we try to reduce waste in any way possible. If you’re like us, there is definitely a shelf or spot with some leftover paint cans sitting on it. Paint is considered hazardous and has to be disposed of properly so a lot of us just hang onto it for years. Instead of disposing of it, using the leftover paint up entirely helps reduce the waste going into our environment and keeps you from literally throwing away the money you spent on that paint. So be creative and find ways to use it up!
If you’re set on a certain color and don’t have it at home, there are still some ways to purchase paint and reduce waste.
Some home improvement stores have a paint “clearance” section. It’s paint that was either mixed the wrong color or returned. It’s typically a fraction of the normal cost. If you’re patient and check regularly, then you can score some pretty awesome colors for super cheap. And save it from going to waste! And if the color they have is light enough, they may be able to add additional dye to it in order to tint it to the color you want.
Leftover Paint Design Considerations
While design options are endless when you’re willing to chuck out cash for purchasing new paint, working with leftover paint can actually limit the design slightly. Personally, I love a good design challenge, and when there are limiting factors, it narrows the possibilities and actually makes it less overwhelming.
For example, if you only have a couple of small sample sizes of leftover paint, consider an accent wall design that’s more of a simple wallpaper-style design. It could be smaller minimalistic lines or a repeating pattern of hand-drawn leaves. Look for inspiration that focuses on using small amounts of paint, but in a way that creates an overall look on a wall.
If you have a larger quantity of leftover paint, then consider an accent wall design with larger painted areas or bolder graphics. Check the back of the paint can’s label to see how much surface area a full gallon would cover, then divide that up by however much paint you have left over. This will give you a general idea of how much area you can paint solid. If you have anywhere from a quarter to a half gallon left, you can typically cover quite a bit of area.
DIY Bold Accent Wall Design
Now that you’ve considered your approach with leftover paint, it’s time to find inspiration, create a plan, and execute it!
Step 1: Find Inspiration & Create A Plan
Find Inspiration For The Painted Accent Wall Design
There are a ton of ideas out there for painted accent walls. Pinterest is a great place to get some design inspiration! So type in some keywords about what pattern you’d like to make: geometric, linear, etc. You’ll find something to inspire you for sure!
Follow us on Pinterest too to see our latest projects and sustainable living ideas!
Mark Off The Area, Take A Photo, & Dream Away
I’m a highly visual person, so I needed to do a quick mockup of the design prior to just painting something on the wall. I find taking a photo of the area and then testing out some ideas in Photoshop works best for me. It allows me to test several patterns and colors quickly. It’s also so much easier to then share the design ideas with my hubby to get his opinion on them.
If you don’t have Photoshop or some editing software, then just sketch it out with pen and paper or use the draw function in your phone editing app. Or you can mockup your ideas directly on a wall by using painter’s tape.
Having a plan to follow as a guide will help tremendously before you start the DIY project and save you from wasting time. Nothing is worse than doing a project, finishing it, and not loving the final outcome!
Consider Incorporating The Door or Trim
So painting an accent wall is probably the first instinct for most people. However, you might consider incorporating other elements into the design. If a door or trim runs through the design, then have them continue the design. Working with these elements instead of around them can make the design feel more cohesive and complete.
Step 2: Prep the Surface
The next step is to prep all the surfaces. Although this is never the fun part, prepping the wall and surfaces you’ll be painting is highly important. If you don’t, you may end up with peeling paint, bumps, or other things that will make you regret not taking the time to fix it at the beginning.
- First, fill small holes with small hole repair spackle or use some joint compound. We used joint compound to skim-coat cracks, uneven wall surfaces, and fill nail holes
- If you need to patching parts of a door or trim, then use wood filler to fill holes or scratches.
- Next, sand down any high spots wherever you patched. A sanding block works well on a wall and a quick pass with an orbital sander using 180 grit on the door smooths everything out.
- Then, clean up any dust and wipe off the surfaces.
- Lastly, paint the wall with the main wall color. This is an extra step, but I prefer to do this to ensure there’s no accidental white/raw drywall patch exposed.
DIYer Tip – Don’t Mix Paint Types. Latex and oil paints don’t mix well and will actually peel apart. If you don’t know what’s on your wall, it’s best to do a quick test spot on the wall to ensure it won’t be an issue.
Step 3: Layout Design
Now, you can either measure and precisely layout your design or sort of wing it until it looks good. We kind of did a mix of this with our design.
With a bold diagonal design, we had to figure out how to carry that line across the multiple wall and door surfaces. Since we don’t have a laser level, we rigged a DIY system to help use as a guide. Using a scrap piece of wood, tripod, a flashlight, and my hubby to help steady it all, we used the shadow line from the wood piece to trace a constant diagonal across the surfaces.
This wasn’t absolutely perfect, but we like to use what we have and DIY is all about getting creative!
Tape Out Your Design
After you’ve marked out any lines with pencil, it’s time to tape out the final design. Using painter’s tape, carefully lay out all the edges and press down. We followed the pencil line with the tape for the diagonal part of the design.
After you lay out the tape, step back and stare at it asking yourself if it looks right. Then adjust and repeat as needed. For diagonals and other bold lines, it’s all about whether it looks right to the naked eye. Even if that means it’s technically off by a 1/16” one way or another. Your eye is what will be looking at the design, so it needs to look right to you.
Lastly, we laid out the long linear line along the wall using a measuring tape to confirm the distance from the ceiling. And again adjusted as needed.
Step 4: Paint The Base Color Over The Tape
Before starting to use the leftover paint for this accent wall design, first you need to paint the over the tape with the same color paint as what’s underneath. “Why!?”, you ask? While this may seem like an extra step, I’ve found this will get you the cleanest tape lines.
Painting over the edge of the tape with the wall color underneath seals the tape’s edges and if anything bleeds through it’s the same color as the wall. Make sure you let this fully dry. I’m talking, like, leave it overnight prior to starting with the new color. You don’t want to risk having the two paint colors bleed into each other.
For this design that meant painting the grey wall color or the white door color over all the painter’s tape edges and letting it dry. Then we could move on to adding the dark blue accent color to the wall design.
Step 5: Use Leftover Paint To Paint The Design
Now the fun part! It’s time to use that leftover paint to actually add color to the wall and surfaces. Typically, we cut/edge everything first followed by rolling out the color. You do it whichever way you like best and watch your beautiful design come to life!
The key to the crisp line is to remove the tape when the paint is still tacky (slightly wet) and not fully dried. Don’t remove it immediately, but wait until about halfway through the paint’s noted dry time. With this paint, it had a 4-hour dry time, so we removed the painter’s tape after 2 hours. And tada! Super crisp beautiful line!
Using up leftover paint is a great way to DIY sustainably and it brings some unison to your home as you’ve already used the paint elsewhere.
Step 6: Touch Ups & Clean Up
The last step is to touch up any problem spots on the surfaces. Typically, there’s a spot or two where touchups are needed. There were a few larger areas that needed a second coat of paint for us, which means we had to be careful not to paint past our crisp lines since the tape has been removed.
And if you’re like me, you definitely got some blue paint on the white trim and now have to touch up the white paint.
If you can, make sure to rinse out and save your rollers and brushes. Paint rollers can be reused if properly cleaned and not left covered in paint to get crusty for too long. It’s a great way to reduce waste and save you some money on future DIY projects.
Step 7: Enjoy The Bold Accent Wall Design
Painting and cleanup are done, so it’s time to celebrate! Add any pictures or items to hang up or just leave it simply as a painted surface. We’ll be adding a workshop sign eventually, as well as a mini workbench for our toddler in this area. A bold graphic design always seems to add some joy and happiness to a space (even in a dark color!). We are so happy with the way this mural turned out in our garage!
More DIY Projects
Now that you’ve brought a pop of color into your space, it’s time for another project, right!? Check out these 15 DIY projects at home you can do or our DIY project archives. Whether you’re looking to DIY furniture like a hanging daybed or for the perfect balance of DIY and sustainable living with a stacked rain barrel system, we’ve got a ton of resources for you.
You can also check out our YouTube channel for in-depth video How-To’s on our most popular DIY projects!
Hope this How-To inspires you to create a bold accent wall design using your leftover paint and brings a little color into your life! Let us know what you think of the design and what’d you would do in the comments below!
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