32 Ways to Deck the Walls for the Holidays
Quick and easy upgrade ideas you can do yourself with paint, tile, and wall coverings
With parties and gatherings galore, wouldn't you love to entertain in a custom-painted living room or beautifully tiled kitchen this holiday season? TOH shows you how with pro tips and step-by-step instructions. Whether you opt for a decorative painting technique or fancy woodwork, you can easily transform a lackluster space into a festive room you'll enjoy all year.
Whether you're looking to create a dramatic decor or a blank slate, the easiest and most affordable way to alter the look of a room is—you guessed it—paint. And while choosing a new hue for your walls can be an exciting prospect, it can also be a daunting one—with fifteen different shades of eggshell, who wants to tackle the blue family? Don't let those endless swatches scare you away from color. TOH's Choose Paint Colors With a Color Wheel will help take some of the guesswork out of the process.
Slapping on a coat of paint may seem simple, but it's just as easy to make a mess if you don't know what you're doing. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint a Room before you begin.
Tired of boring old one-tone walls? Indulge your creative spirit with a DIY paint job and watch how a little bit of texture can transform your room.
Whether you're trying to mask uneven walls or liven up pristine ones, this old-world effect can be achieved with just a few brushes and a combination of complimentary hues. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint a Color Wash.
Drag a soft-bristle brush vertically through a tinted glaze applied over flat paint. The striations mimic the look of a fine fabric.
Signature Colors Tintable Glaze, about $18 per quart; Valspar
Brush a special glaze over a dry flat paint of one color, then coat the glaze with a flat of a different color. The glaze makes the last coat split and crack, revealing the base coat beneath for an antiqued look.
Illusions Faux Finish Crackle Medium, about $19 per quart; Sherwin-Williams
Trowel on two coats of this thick, flat, mineral-rich paint with a putty knife, making sweeping motions as you go. The resulting look simulates rustic, aged plaster.
Roman Clay in Crimson Tide, about $55 per gallon; Portola Paints & Glazes
The trick to pairing colors, says Mark Chamberlain, a decorative painter and colorist in New York City, is to select hues that are neighbors on the color wheel, a tool that designers use.
Then keep in mind that warmed-up hues often pair well with cooled-down ones. The two here are Climbing Lily and Limeade from Ralph Lauren Paint. Limeade is a warm, yellowish green; Climbing Lily is a cooler, greenish yellow.
Rooms with wainscot naturally lend themselves to the two-related-shades treatment, but you can also create separate color fields by taping off the wall halfway up or adding a chair rail.
Tip: Chamberlain says,"To give a traditional room a more contemporary look, use two bright colors. For a more conservative pairing, choose softer hues that have gray or brown in them."
What is strie, you ask? Before rollers and latex, paint was a thick emulsion that went on with tedious brushing. Bristle marks were often visible, and they became more prominent as years and dirt accumulated. The strie technique mimics the look of centuries-old paint altered by dust and sun. In other words, it's a really cool paint effect. You should try it.
For full step-by-step instructions, see Decorative Painting Techniques: Strie
Get this look by brushing on two different colors of glaze over a base coat of paint, then blot it with cheesecloth. The technique works well with colors from the same family, but can also work with unrelated colors, depending on the style you're going for.
For full step-by-step instructions, see Decorative Painting Techniques: Two-Tone Patina
When decorative painter Brian Carter was asked to turn a bland dining room into a magnet for good food and conversation, he instinctively thought of warm tone-on-tone squares. He started out by painting the walls a creamy beige, then applied two shades of tinted glaze (all from Benjamin Moore) to create a pattern of 17-inch squares.
For more on how to get the same look, see Check the Walls with Tone-On-Tone Color.
To give your wainscot a dimensional look, start with a neutral base coat, then pick a secondary color that'll pack some punch. Use a pencil, ruler, and plumb line to outline the stripes, suggests New York City-based decorative painter Alison Shapiro. Then, to give them an icing-like translucence, mix one part interior latex paint with two parts latex glaze, and pour it into a small roller tray. For more on getting this look, see Paint Candy-Coated Wainscot Stripes.
Bamboo has been a popular design motif since the 18th century. But decorative painter Brian Carter had a fresher, cleaner look in mind when he updated this beige bath.
Get the look of a professional wall treatment in just one day—all it takes is an off-the-shelf stamp. Here, a field of lilac took on the appearance of a high-end wall covering, thanks to the addition of stamped-on silvery medallions. Choose your own background color and stamp shape for a custom combination that's uniquely you.
For full step-by-step instructions, see Stamp On a Custom Wall Pattern.
Remember those potato stamps you made in school? Now imagine a less starchy—but no less fun—medium made with a sheet of flexible craft foam and squares of scrap wood. The pattern shown here was applied with two homemade stamps and semigloss paint. The result? An charming wallscape perfect for energizing a bathroom or small space.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Add a Lively Wall Pattern with Stamps
A template can be a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to creating a uniform wall design. The effect is much like that of wallpaper but without the design restrictions and installation hassles. Simply make a template, trace it on the walls with chalk in any pattern you like and follow up with paint. Before you know it, you'll be looking at a whole new room—courtesy of you.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint a Curvy Moroccan-Star Design
If you're bored with stencils, stamps and templates, it may be time to channel your inner artist for some serious freehand. That's how decorative painter Brian Carter breathed new life into the dining room shown here. Start with a pattern—you can create one yourself or trace a design you like. Once you've established a small version of what you'd like to see on your walls, break out the chalk and start sketching. Once you've got your outline, follow up with paint and watch your design come to life.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint an Oversized Design
While wall-frame molding can create an elegant and sophisticated look, it can also pose logistical problems when it comes to decorating. Framed artwork and photographs can look awkward, but often walls look bare with no adornment. The answer? A painted design adds character and panache without overwhelming a room. This simple twig design was first outlined in chalk and then painted over to create a delicately natural decor.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Paint a Decorative Twig Design
If you're not looking to spend a lot of time or cash, a stencil border is a great way to liven up a room with some period charm. Stenciling is a centuries-old European tradition meant to mimic expensive wallpapers, and it has lived on in various forms such as artistic borders. Depending on your taste, you can use a precut version or you can design your own stencil for a custom look. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Stencil a Border
Not in love with this pattern? Explore the technique and get inspired with Wall Stencil Patterns and Ideas
While Stephany Kropman was awaiting the birth of son Zane (her sixth child!), she found inspiration for the nursery in a catalog shot of a room with a tree mural. She sketched the tree in chalk first. "If you don't like it, you just wipe and redo." For more on how she created this gorgeous accent wall, see Use Leftovers to Add Charming Details.
Put those creative juices to good use on a vibrant mural your kids will enjoy for years. See How to Create an Elephant-Themed Nursery for more information on how a simple drawing combined with an overhead projector can turn a blase nursery into a animated oasis.
Chalkboard paint isn't new, but creative minds keep coming up with new ways to use it. Consider the dramatic wall calendar shown here. It began with a floor-to-ceiling coat of standard gray chalkboard paint. With the help of a yardstick, squares were drawn in pencil, then taped off. Three-fourths were filled in with different shades of light and medium gray, leaving the remaining squares the same color as the wall. For more on this, and other chalkboard paint ideas, see 5 Clever Ideas for Chalkboard Paint.
Unfurl your to-do list down the length of the wall with a dramatic strip of blackboard paint. For more on this, and other chalkboard paint ideas, see 5 Clever Ideas for Chalkboard Paint.
Want the look of wallpaper? With myriad colors, patterns and textures to choose from, you'll have no trouble finding a modern motif suit your home. Dreading air bubbles and mismatched panels? Fear no more. How to Hang Wallpaper will give you all the tricks and tips you need for a flawless installation.
Create an accent wall in the living room by papering the fireplace or sofa wall with grasscloth. Choose one with a tone that picks up the surrounding paint color. For more on this, and other affordable upgrade ideas, see 100 DIY Upgrades Under $100
Trim out your staircase with decorative brackets fastened to the outside of the stringer just below the treads. For more on this and other affordable upgrades, see 100 DIY Upgrades Under $100.
Nothing says "welcome" like an inviting foyer, and while you may not have the floor space for an entry table, you most likely have wall space for a niche. A favorite architectural accent since the days of ancient Rome, wall niches are a great way to add character and display a favorite plant, urn or piece of small art.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Install a Wall Niche
From favorite photographs to treasured artwork, wall hangings are often a homeowner's prized possessions. Unfortunately, if you don't equip these keepsakes with the appropriate hanging hardware, they can end up on the floor along with a chunk of your wall. How to Choose the Right Hanging Hardware explains how different hooks and screws work with specific wall materials, so you can secure your wall adornments with confidence.
Unsure of where to position your artwork on the wall? Bring it Down to Eye Level puts it all in perspective.
Group small prints, photos, and vintage plates and hang them together for the look of a large, expensive piece of art. Arrange the display on the floor first to limit nail holes. For more easy upgrades like this one, see 100 DIY Upgrades Under $100.
When it comes to bathroom walls, you can't go wrong with tile. It's water- and stain-resistant, easy to clean and available in myriad styles and colors. Need inspiration? Consult Using Tile in the Bathroom for some ideas.
Once you've chosen your desired style, check out How to Tile Around a Tub for full step-by-step instructions, and learn how to tackle the job yourself.
Every cook—and every non-cook for that matter—loves to spend time in a beautiful kitchen. What better way to beautify your kitchen than with mosaic tile? Tile backslashes are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are also extremely useful in protecting walls from grease and other stovetop-related stains.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Install a Glass Mosaic Tile Backsplash. Not a fan of glass tile? Here's how you can achieve beautiful backsplashes with ceramic tile and salvaged materials.