Painted wall ideas – have some fun with your walls with these creative paint ideas

These 50 cheerful painted wall ideas are guaranteed to lift moods and add some fun to your walls. Ranging from graphic patterns and bright colour blocking to painted borders and dado rail effects, it's time to get out the masking tape...

painted wall ideas with masking tape
(Image credit: Future)

Have some fun with your walls with these cheerful painted wall ideas. 

Aside from being an instant mood lifter, these cheerful painting and decorating tricks will instantly revive tired walls and dated schemes with some fresh energy.

The wall is a blank canvas, so it's surprising how few of us do much more than paint on one block colour. With a little imagination, masking out a wall and painting pockets of colour can look surprisingly chic. These wall paint ideas with tape can transform the traditional into something altogether modern, and make the unassuming seem really rather clever.

Colour blocking will help to zone different areas, which is particularly useful in open-plan spaces. Colour is a great way to break up open-plan spaces and create zones that mark the difference between where you cook, say, and where you relax.

Feeling colour shy? Even just a little pot of bright paint can go a long way, for example when painting a bright border edge on your floors or walls.

By painting two-thirds of the wall with a colour and leaving the top third white will help to visually raise the ceiling height. Splitting a wall with two tones can look modern and sharp, and a light hue above a darker one makes a room seem larger.

paint ideas with tape

(Image credit: Future)

A dado or picture rail makes a good divider, but where you draw the line will depend on the room’s features and where the light falls. Painting borders can create the illusion of a dado rail where there isn't one, and painted borders can also frame floors, fireplaces, arches, windows and other features, drawing attention to them.

Highlight interesting architectural details with contrasting or complementary shades and create a picture frame effect.

And, if it’s maximum drama you’re after, it pays to be brave. We love some of the striking painted wall ideas used below, illustrating how to create geometric shapes, horizontal stripes, smart check patterns or even mountain effects, bringing imaginative flair to schemes.

paint ideas with masking tape

(Image credit: Future)

A painted ceiling is also a fabulous way to introduce a bold accent colour – you can even take to the floors. ‘Painting the floor with an accent colour such as Klein Blue brings a huge amount of drama to a space,’ says chalk paint expert Annie Sloan. ‘Keep the rest of the room neutral with soft nude browns such as taupes or fawns to focus attention on the floor. Or go for white walls – but be sure to choose a warm-toned or neutral white rather than one with blue undertones as this could make the space feel stark.’

Here are a few simple ways to weave a complementary shade into a scheme. 

See all of our off-the-wall ideas for walls below...

1. Add a neon border

A crisp line of neon pink adds a bold, modern edge to this room without being overbearing. 

painted wall ideas

Get the look: Carpetright Madagascar Wilton Carpet in Beige Leopard £39.99m2

(Image credit: RS Phot)

2. Frame a doorway in sunshine yellow

A dash of incandescent yellow – Trumpet by Little Greene – delivers a burst of energy and links the front living room to the middle sitting room in the home of interior designer Suzy Hoodless.

painted wall ideas with masking tape

(Image credit: Future)

3. Pair unexpected pastels

Here, a large frame acts as a border for a plane of contrasting colour. It's a striking effect, and works well with these two pastel shades. 

painted wall ideas with tape

Get the look: Lichen and Setting Plaster estate emulsions, both £45 each for 2.5L, by Farrow & Ball.

(Image credit: Future)

4. Split divide

In this long and thin corridor, the colour was only taken half way up the wall. If the narrow space had been blue all the way to the ceiling, the space would have felt very enclosed. By using a light shade at the top, the area feels more open. 

painted wall ideas half and half

Get the look: The lower half of the wall is painted in Inchyra Blue; the upper half in All White, both by Farrow & Ball. The overhead light is from Gong. The bauble decoration is from Habitat.

(Image credit: Future)

5. Create a Mondrian inspired look

We love this paint effect idea, where masking tape has been used to create neat lines, borders and boxes, inspired by the artist Mondrian, and then coloured in.

painted wall ideas mondriaan lines

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

6. Frame a bed with a painted headboard

Twin beds are given the illusion of headboards simply with paint.

paint ideas faux headboard with paint

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

7. Paint rainbow stripes using unexpected colour pairings

In this example from Farrow & Ball, masking tape has been used to create a striking effect on the wall in three complementing colours.

painted wall ideas with masking tape on ceiling

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

8. Inject a burst of energy by introducing yellow below the dado line

Zesty yellow is an unusual choice for undertake dado, and the colour is taken up the inside of the arched hallways too. The effect is playful and uplifting. 

painted wall ideas below the dado

Get the look: Walls in Soane Yellow by Papers and Paints. Stairs in Highland Green by Dulux. Asparagus ferns, Nikki Tibbles Wild At Heart. Star, Ginger Ray.

(Image credit: Patrick Williamson)

9. Paint a floor border

Brightly painted borders on the floor inject a playful energy.

painted border on floor

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

10. Paint up the staircase

Using a fun colour on the stairs, even just on the vertical part of the steps, instantly makes them more cool.

painted staircase with tape

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

11. Highlight an alcove in a contrast colour

The ceramics collection on this alcove ledge is highlighted by the strip of pastel pink. 

painted alcove and painted border on wall

Get the look: The wall light and pedestal were bought at online antiques auctions. Find similar at Tommy Mitchell. The reclaimed wood dining table is by DT-69. These are vintage white Ant chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen and Peppermint DSW chairs by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Ammonite and Calamine Pink estate emulsion.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

12. Paint a geometric repeat pattern

Using masking tape, you can easily create some eye-catching geometric patterns.

Geometric paint effect with masking tape

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

13. Colour block using complementing shades

Can't decide on a colour? Choose a mix instead. Here, tape was used to combine three complementing shades in a modern, geometric way.

painted wall ideas effect on wall using masking tape

(Image credit: Future)

14. Go for grid-like symmetry

Here Dulux shows how you can easily create a smart check pattern simply by choosing a backdrop colour, then overlaying it with a criss cross of stripes.

painted grid pattern on wall using masking tape

(Image credit: Dulux)

15. Wrap your room in thick horizontal stripes

Painting a repeat pattern like these pastel stripes on the walls creates a smart, wallpapered effect.

painted stripes on wall using masking tape

(Image credit: Dulux)

16. Add a sense of whimsy with a scalloped or wave edge border

We love the wave affect ribbon of paint that frames this doorway, styled by 2LG. 

painted scalloping painted wave effect on wall

Get the look: The 'Capsule Saldo' pendant from the 'Capsule' collection is a collaboration between 2LG and lighting designers Cameron Design House.

(Image credit: 2LG)

17. Fake a dado border

Who said you need an actual dado rail to have a painted colour below dado height? Using masking tape instead, you can create a more up-to-date and modern version of the idea.

room painted half and half

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

18. Paint doors, door frames and skirting in a contrast colour to the walls

The painted skirting, doorframe and door create a striking frame into the next room. 

paint colour pairing with masking tape

Get the look: The tiles are from The Antique Floor Company. The mirror is from Absolute Flowers & Home. The wall lights are from Caroline de Kerangal. The bath and brassware are from The Albion Bath Company.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

19. Introduce a transitional colour to signal a change in zones

This idea is illustrated again here, where a grey doorway creates a transition from this room into the next.

painted door and doorframe

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

20. Highlight the cornicing with an accent colour

A pink ‘racing stripe’ has been added to this cornicing, adding a modern twist to the traditional room. The back of the fireplace is painted in same pink used for the cornicing. 

painted cornicing

Get the look: Mr and Mrs cushions from Liberty. Coffee table found on Golborne Road. For a similar armchair, try Graham & Green. Upcycled chaise longue by Ines Cole at Liberty. Vases on mantelpiece from the Oriental department at Liberty. Little plates to the right, high up on the wall, by Yvonne Ellen, from Liberty. Painting above mirror by Hugo Guinness. Persian rug from Liberty. Flowers from Wild at Heart.

(Image credit: Future)

21. Add drama with a vibrant turquoise shade

Introduce splashes of colour through painting doors in bold colours, and leaving the rest of the room more neutral. In this sitting room, a grey palette is lifted by the Tiffany blue door, the two fuchsia chairs and tangerine artwork. 

painted doors paint idea

Get the look: The I Like It. What Is It? poster is by Anthony Burrill. The pink velvet armchairs are from Fern & Grey. The coffee table is from West Elm.

(Image credit: Future)

22. Combine different shades of the same colour to accentuate features

Highlighting skirting, windows, doors, mantels and other features in a stronger tone can make a subtle impact. Get the look: Velvet Plum by Crown is similar

painted fireplace mantelpiece paint ideas

(Image credit: Future)

23. Instantly lift a grey scheme with a bright yellow

Here the vertical part of the stairs is painted in a zingy yellow, giving a cheerier contrast to the palette of white and greys.

painted steps paint idea

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

24. Wrap a ribbon of unexpected colour around a room

A ribbon in burnt ochre contrasts against the ink-drenched room.

painted stripe on wall

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

25. Sandwich a border line between contrast colours

Here, a thin painted line acts as a border to the colour below it.

painted border line on wall paint ideas

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

26. Envelope a room from top to bottom – including the ceiling

This living room scheme features a sea of deep greens and rich textures to create a dramatic yet harmonious feel. Flashes of metallics and a dash of contrasting colour in the accessories heighten the glamour. 

painted dado rails

Get the look: Walls are painted in Huntsman Green elite emulsion, £49 for 2.5L; woodwork in Taylors Grey acrylic eggshell, £34 for 1L; sofa in Quartz Velvet in Teal, £117m, all Zoffany.

(Image credit: Future)

27. Run a thin line of neon colour up the staircase to inject some fresh energy

A neon stripe runs up the stairs, cutting diagonally across the wall and punctuating through the grey colour palette.

neon paint ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

28. Paint the ceiling in a dramatic colour for a den-like effect

Flashes of red keep this decadent cinema den feeling daring and grown-up. 

Painted Ceiling paint ideas

Get the look: The sofa is from BPA International. This is the E1027 side table by Eileen Gray for Aram Designs at Aram Store. The patterned cushions are by By Nord at Houseology. The linen cushion covers are from The Linen Works. This is a Windowpane throw by Raft Furniture.

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

29. Match the ceiling to the skirting and doorframes

The door and door-frame are painted in the same shade as the ceiling, giving this room more edge. 

paint ideas for the ceiling

Get the look: Wall light, Bert Frank. Cushion, Soho Home. Artwork, Alexandria Coe

(Image credit: James Merrell)

30. Colour block to signify a change in spaces

Enveloping each room in a different paint colour will create distinctly different zones, rooms and moods.

colour divide paint idea

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

31. Dare to play with dado colours

This room’s low dado rail makes a natural split, while the daring shade of turquoise instantly makes the space more modern. 

painted wall ideas for dado

Get the look: For a similar paint shade, try Fresco Blue 1829 chalky emulsion, £35 for 2.5L, Craig & Rose.

(Image credit: Future)

32. Paint across your tongue and groove for a playful effect

In this kitchen, paint playful cuts across the grooves of the kitchen dresser. The dresser itself is a fun twist in that the grooves carry on up the wall and onto the ceiling.

paint ideas in kitchen

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

33. Paint the floorboards

Here, the gloss painted floor boards with a stripe effect acts as the focal point of the room, and instantly makes this otherwise uninteresting room feel modern and cool.

Painted Floor paint ideas

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

34. Consider unconventional border placement

In this off-the-wall idea, the dado rail is placed unusually high, with the space above it painted in a wild fuchsia.

painted ceiling modern paint ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

35. Pair monochrome with an accent colour

Here, a monochrome scheme is made more interesting with painted cornicing, skirting, doorframe and dado rail, plus the contrasting pop of the raspberry pink door.

painted borders paint ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

36. Spill over from your walls onto curtains and furnishings

The painted dado-effect appears spill over onto the curtains. Matching curtains to wall colour creates a feeling of space and uniformity so could be a good option for smaller spaces. Play with contrasts, however, for dramatic effect and to create a focal point within the room. 

ombre paint ideas

Get the look: Farrow & Ball’s Ammonite, Brinjal, Charlotte’s Locks and Rectory Red estate emulsions, £45 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Find a similar Sixties-style Schreiber lacquered wood dressing table on eBay. The curtains are made in Harlequin’s Tranquil Bayberry/Praline 130954 viscose/linen-mix, from £68.85m, from Fashion Interiors.

(Image credit: Future)

37. You can't go wrong with pink plaster

Pistacchio walls are a light, calm contrast to the dusty blush ceiling and dark olive dado.

paint colour ideas

(Image credit: Little Greene, Paint & Paper Library)

38. Use paint to revive old furniture

Upcycle tired furniture with bold accent shades to breathe new life into old pieces. Bright yellows, bold blues, vibrant reds and rich emerald greens are great for invigorating furniture. They’ll complement the popular navy blue and grey neutrals that we’re seeing in many homes. Here, odd chairs are united with a hit of blue. 

painted kitchen paint ideas

Get the look: Try Farrow & Ball’s Chinese Blue

(Image credit: Future)

39. Pair swamp green with smokey blush

This swampy green is what we imagine you'd get from mixing in a brown or orange pigment with a mossy green – it's very deep, grounded and earthy. The paint has been taken across the headboard too, to striking effect, but we like that it hasn't been taken all the way up to the ceiling. Pink pairs well with it, and pink bedding ties in with the blush hue on the wall. 

Swamp green

Get the look: Paints from Dulux.

40. Highlight a window frame

A bold colour framing the window creates a framed picture-like effect; the picture in this case being the view. In this bathroom, the window frame and ceiling have been accentuated with dashes of sunny orange and ultramarine, giving the period space a contemporary feel. 

Window Frame

Get the look: Walls are painted in Flint, ceiling in Deep Space Blue and window frame in Marigold, all from £22.50 for 1L absolute matt emulsion, Little Greene.

41. Three is not a crowd

Three different shades from Little Green instantly transform this traditional room into something ultra modern.

Trio

42. Accentuate skirting

Yellow skirting also achieves a modern, zingy and uplifting effect.

Skirting

43. Frame a colour with a darker shade on either side for a 3D shadow effect

In this idea from Little Greene, a feature wall is made to look 3D simply by painting the sides of it in a slightly darker shade.

3D

44. Use black as an accent

These gorgeous Deluxe shades complement each other perfectly, and look very smart in this arched window composition.

Arched

45. Dive in with all-over colour

Blanket coverage with a single paint colour makes a bold design statement. Faux flowers both relieve and enhance the dark and moody colour scheme. 

Ink Effect

Get the look: The flowers and vase are by Abigail Ahern. The vintage stool and Deco mirror are both from eBay.

46. Go freehand for a less structured look

You could even use tape to break away from straight lines, by overlapping tape at different angles or by intentionally creating messy lines – as long as you make it look intentional, as has been achieved here.

Throwing Shapes

47. Experiment with unexpected combinations

A wall of built-in storage is given a makeover with three contrasting colours and a roll of masking tape. We particularly love how the purple doesn't carry right up to the ceiling but is cut off at an unexpected point, halfway up the top cupboard.

Unexpected

48. Create a splash-back effect with a block of colour. Make it waterproof with a glass plate

The space behind the kitchen counter is painted in a block colour, creating the effect of a splash back. Of course, this would only work if the sink is in the kitchen island, unless you protect the paint with a waterproof coating.

Splashback Effect

49. Introduce a single strip

A deep indigo anchors the lower half of the room, with a textured wallpaper above and a strip of blue as a zingy divide. 

Strip

Get the look: The print of Slim Aarons’ Poolside Glamour is from Grapefruit Gallery. Console, Wood’n Design. Indigo Blue paint (on lower half of wall), Sanderson.

50. Try out an ombre effect

These walls are painted in a gradually fading ombre effect, while the contrasting pastel pink ceiling has a crisp, neat edge. 

Ombre

Get the look: The bed is vintage French. The light is by Lee Broom. The wallpaper is Designers Guild. The bedside table was from Alfies Antique Market. Wild & Wolf does a turquoise Trim phone.

Lotte Brouwer
Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.