After weeks of sheltering in place, you’re likely to have exhausted all the obvious options for home improvement. You’ve probably disinfected the bathroom to perfection, cleaned out your makeup drawer, and organized your Tupperware drawer to the nines.
But you may still be looking for a way to keep busy and spruce up your home decor, without buying new furniture or accessories. That might mean it’s time for the satisfying task of painting household items that you already own.
Adding a splash of paint has always been one of the easiest and least expensive ways to change your environment radically. But the following projects are not big undertakings that require multiple hours and years of DIY experience.
In fact, we have faith that anyone with some extra paint and a little creativity can reinvigorate these boring household items that you were thinking of setting aside for donation.
Check out these items that you can revive with a few strokes of your paintbrush.
1. Shelves and bookcases
One way to update a room instantly is by painting the back of shelves or bookcases.
“It adds an unexpected, decorative twist to any space, and it draws the eye to the color, instead of any clutter,” says Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager.
If you’re struggling to pick an accent color for your shelves and bookcases, there’s a simple solution.
“Scan the room and see what colors are already in play, in your pillows, artwork, rugs, and other decor. Then choose a color similar to what you already have,” Schlotter says. “It’ll pull the room together.”
Banbury agrees that painting shelves or their backdrop is a fun, easy way to add personality to a space and to create a focus point with very little effort.
To prep the shelves for painting, remove all items from the bookshelves and lightly sand the surface to prepare for the paint. Then prime, let the primer dry, and apply the coats of paint.
“Be sure to let it dry in between, and also lightly sand between coats,” Banbury says.
Everyone loves fresh flowers, but according to Leonard Ang, an interior designer at AQVA Bathrooms, flowers aren’t the only things that can bring color to your interiors.
“Try repainting your old vases,” he says. Match the colors in your house, or go for something neutral, like black or off-white.
We love the idea of painting an accent stripe on a vase, like the one above.
3. Dining room chairs
Is that dining room set your grandmother gifted you looking a little run-down? Use paint to give the chairs a modern look.
“In today’s home trends, nostalgic pieces of furniture are at an all-time high, and people want to keep items with charm and character that they have a connection to,” says Ashley Banbury, senior color designer for HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams.
Before you begin painting, remove or tape around cushions or anything you do not want to paint. You also need to prep the surface, with coarse-grit sandpaper. This is a necessary step to ensure that the paint will adhere to the chair.
Banbury suggests applying a coat of primer and letting it dry. Then, it’s time to paint.
If you’re painting wooden chairs, Banbury recommends that you paint with—instead of against—the grain, as this will produce a smoother finish. It may take more than one coat, and if so, she advises letting the paint dry between coats.
Mirrors are another small project that you can tackle with a small amount of paint.
“Just painting an old mirror can revitalize its overall appearance, without committing to painting an entire room,” Schlotter says. And just one quart of paint is enough to complete numerous smaller projects.
When choosing a color to paint the frame of your mirror, Schlotter recommends either coordinating with the existing color on your walls, for a more subdued look, or going in the opposite direction and selecting a statement color (maybe Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year?), to draw attention to the mirror.
No paintbrushes? No problem. Spray paint is a great alternative. Just be sure to tape the edges where the frame meets the mirror, with painter’s tape.
This can be turned into a project for kids who want to redesign their bedroom.
“Allow them to connect with their creative side, and have fun turning an old mirror into a masterpiece they can be proud to show off,” says Nicole Graff, a co-owner and principal designer for Hamsa Home, a Los Angeles-based interior design firm.
The weather’s getting warmer, so while you’re sheltering in place, take your painting project outdoors. You might not have space for planter boxes, but if you’re determined to grow plants at home, consider putting in a vertical garden with painted wood boxes.
“Make sure the surface is clean wood, free of dirt and debris,” says Sue Kim, Valspar color marketing manager at Sherwin-Williams. She recommends using a wood cleaner first, to ensure the best results.
Sand the wood on the boxes, apply a coat of primer, and then apply two coats of paint in your chosen color.