Decorators seem to be finally over painted arches in their homes – here's what they're doing instead

Move over arches, the paint effect we're seeing all over Instagram embraces a completely different interior trend than curved shapes

checkerboard wall murals
(Image credit: Leanne Ward / Amie Brodie / Pieces Home)

For me, painted arches fall a bit flat. Sure, they are a quick and inexpensive way to recreate the trend for architectural curves we're seeing right now, but in their two-dimensional nature they lose some of what makes this shape feel so visually engaging. 

Don't get me wrong, there are some examples of painted arches I love, especially when combined with an alcove or around a door frame, something to give this shape the depth it craves, but it's a paint idea I'm not unhappy to see the back of. But where one trend wanes, another comes to take its place, and don't doubt that home decorators are getting even more creative with ways to make an impact with paint right now. 

So what's taking the place of painted arches in the hearts of paint-happy DIYers? Checkerboard. We're seeing this design trend pop up everywhere in interiors right now, and while checkerboard floors have had a real renaissance in recent years, it seems it's just starting to gather momentum as a way to paint walls, too. 

luke arthur wells
Luke Arthur Wells

Luke is a design writer and award-winning blogger, known for his creative DIY projects with a luxe sensibility. Here, he outlines why checkerboard might just be the next big paint trend to take over Instagram and Tiktok. 

Why checkerboard? 

a checkerboard wall with painted doors

(Image credit: Pieces Home)

Designer and stylist Tim Neve told me that he thinks the revival in the checkerboard trend is us reaching for something that feels 'safe and stable' in today's chaotic world. However, while the traditional black and white checkerboard can feel a little uptight, variations using softer palettes turn this pattern on its head, creating a more joyful look, inspired by a more relaxed 70s aesthetic.

Checkerboard is also a design that's also crept back into fashion in the last few years, with 2020 and 2021's runways going in hard on this print. That's now filtering down to street style, and bringing attention back to checkerboard. 

'At the start I hadn’t intentionally set out to create a checkerboard wall,' says Leanne Ward, who posts her creative home makeovers on Instagram at @sixtysevenbelmont. 'I had chosen the colors I wanted to work with and knew I wanted something a little different to the color blocking and free hand mural I had previously created.'

a checkerboard wall in a bedroom

(Image credit: Leanne Ward (@sixtysevenbelmont))

'I had recently bought a few clothing items with this checkerboard design and was beginning to see it creeping into the interior side, so this gave me the inspiration to create my own version,' she adds.

It's also a way to make a bigger impact with paint. While the painted arch trend works well for creating accent features, the move towards color and pattern drenching in the home has people looking for paint effects they can take around the room, and apply across trims, doors and even ceilings. 

How do you paint a checkerboard wall? 

Getting a smooth dome to a painted arch isn't the easiest of jobs - you can tell that with just a precursory glance over some of the attempts on Instagram - but while checkerboard walls are simpler in theory, they do require a little more labor at the outset. 'The most labor-intensive part was the actual prep of the design and working out the measurements as I didn’t want to finish with half a square at the top or bottom of the wall,' Leanne tells us. 'I measured the height then divided this by the square root to get an even number of squares. I marked these up using pencil and a spirit level then used masking tape to section the squares.'

checkerboard walls behind a bed

Amie Brodie (@amie.brodie) painted this half-wall checkerboard wall in her kids' bedroom. 

(Image credit: Amie Brodie (@amie.brodie))

Just like how to paint a checkerboard floor, there's a trick to making sure your checkerboard wall is well saturated and sharp, too. 'Use your neutral colour first to create a base,' says paint expert Annie Sloan, 'and make sure you use the right tools. Get a pencil, a tape measure, and draw out the guidelines before applying masking tape to ensure sharp lines. Using the correct brush will help too – a small brush with flat edges will help keep sharp lines.'

Luke Arthur Wells
Freelancer writer

Luke Arthur Wells is a freelance design writer, award-winning interiors blogger and stylist, known for neutral, textural spaces with a luxury twist. He's worked with some of the UK's top design brands, counting the likes of Tom Dixon Studio as regular collaborators and his work has been featured in print and online in publications ranging from Domino Magazine to The Sunday Times. He's a hands-on type of interiors expert too, contributing practical renovation advice and DIY tutorials to a number of magazines, as well as to his own readers and followers via his blog and social media. He might currently be renovating a small Victorian house in England, but he dreams of light, spacious, neutral homes on the West Coast.