Living Room Painting Techniques & Tips

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Design Concept

If you enjoy experimenting with textures, faux finishes, and colors, your living room is an ideal place to start. Unlike the warm, humid, moist, and messy environments in your kitchen and bathroom, your living room's climate is much more stable. In a bathroom, a textured wall is difficult to clean, creating an ideal atmosphere for mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. On the other hand, in a living room, you can enjoy textures hassle-free since the climate allows for a space that is easier to keep clean.

You have many options when it comes to selecting a strategy, texture, or finish, and ultimately, your end result can be a product of your imagination. Just make sure that you have a clear objective before undertaking a painting project. Painting on a wall is a much more extensive than a basic arts and crafts project, and mistakes can be difficult to correct. Especially if you are new to hardware and interior design, make sure that you outline everything from your intended final goal to the exact steps that you will take to get there. Find a paint technique that helps you accomplish a specific design objective.


Paint is extremely messy, and even one drop on your floors or furniture can be difficult to remove. Avoid costly accidents by preparing your space.

First make sure that you remove all clutter and décor. Keep everything in a storage unit or in another place in your room until your living room is dry. While you paint, your living room should be as close to empty as possible.

Move all of your furniture out of your room into a paint-free area. In the warmer months, you may want to keep your furniture outside, but be careful-bugs may burrow, lay eggs, and create colonies deep inside of your favorite couch.

If your furniture is too heavy to move, move it to the center of the room, and make sure that it is completely covered with a tarp or plastic sheet. Tape the covering to the ground so that there is absolutely no potential for a mistake.

Keep all areas of your floors covered using a plastic sheet and masking tape. Don't use newspaper: paint can seep through and affect your floors.

Paint is very difficult to remove from your hair and skin. Keep yourself as covered as possible with a hat, gloves, and long sleeves if the weather is not too warm. Wear sturdy shoes, especially if you are climbing a ladder. Avoid wearing your favorite clothes because they will likely become ruined from dripping paint.

Paint fumes can be dangerous and may even make you feel faint or dizzy. Wear a mask to protect yourself from fumes and dust particles, and keep some windows open to ensure that your living room is well ventilated. Once you prepare, you will be ready to experiment with a variety of painting strategies. Pick one from here, explore other options, or create a style that is unique for your space.

Metallic Paint

If you are trying to add space to a crammed area, metallic paint is one option to try. With metallic paint, tiny bits of metal reflect and disperse light, creating the illusion of a sheen or shimmer. If you want to use a bold, bright, or dark color, use metallic paint to keep your room's lighting and color as vibrant as possible.

Accent Walls

Bright colors are popular options for contemporary living room designs. You may love a bold shade of pink, and it may look perfect with your room's style. At the same time, you may worry about whether a color causes crowding in your space.

Accent walls enable you to give your living room a pop of color without overwhelming your space with an overly bright hue. In addition to creating color balance, accent walls are a simple and inexpensive way to update your living room with a contemporary look and feel, especially if your other three walls are a neutral shade.

Accent Details

You can use color to create focal points throughout your living room. For example, if you have a fireplace with a mantle, you can paint it in a color that contrasts with the wall behind it. You add accent details throughout your living room, around windows, door frames, and shelves. Make sure that you select a color that contrasts with its background. The effect looks best with a foreground that is lighter than its background.

Faux Finishes

Faux finishing techniques use paint to help you create the illusion of another material. For example, you can use a faux finish to create the illusion of granular wood or marble. You can also use faux finishes to create the illusion of other textures such as linen or silk.

Historically, faux finishes were used to create the illusion of a rare or expensive material. Glaze and plaster are the main types of paint used to create faux finish effects.

  • Trompe l'oeil, the French expression for "trick the eye" is a painting technique that is used to create realistic architectural details.
  • Venetian plaster is a smooth material that from a distance, appears to have texture. This type of finishing technique is ideal for a Victorian or formal living room.
  • Color wash creates a blending effect between different tones in addition to glazed and matte color.
  • Strie is a paint-streaking technique that creates the illusion of fabric. This faux finishing technique is ideal for giving a room a contemporary look and feel.
  • Rag painting involves twisting fabric or rags to create texture. This type of faux finishing technique is deal for a country or contemporary living room.
  • Distressing is a painting technique that gives a room a rustic and worn-down style. This technique is commonly used for a variety of materials including wood, glass, paint, plaster, and stone. A distressed faux finish is ideal for rooms with country, rustic, or antique themes.
  • Texturize beige paint to create the illusion of a terra cotta wall. This type of faux finish is ideal for living rooms with Mediterranean and classical themes.

Artwork & Murals

If you enjoy artwork, you should consider painting a wall mural along one of your walls. You may be able to purchase a prefabricated mural, or you may hire someone to paint it for you. Creating art on a wall requires an extensive artistic background in addition to an understanding of proportions. If you're creating a paint-based wall mural from scratch, it's highly advisable to consult a professional or experienced artist.

Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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