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14 fatal mistakes: painting walls

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Living Room by Pixers Colonial
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DIY dreamer? Fancy yourself a dab hand with paint and brush? Be that as it may, no matter how keen your eye for interior design and decoration might be, everything can go horribly wrong when it comes to applying a lick of paint to your pet project. Over-leaping ambition, aesthetic excess, mismatched colors and textures, simple bad technique and – perhaps the most crucial error – bad planning, can all lead to a paint job best described as a cosmetic crash-and-burn. 

homify presents fourteen fatal interior house-painting mistakes, so you know what not to do when you start putting on the primer, fourteen reasons to stop and think twice before slapping on the topcoat. 

1. Don't skimp or skip steps – work methodically.

BPM Painting and Decorating by BPM Painting & Decorating Classic
BPM Painting & Decorating

BPM Painting and Decorating

BPM Painting & Decorating

Start at the beginning, follow through cleanly, and stop when you're finished. Your walls need to be sealed, sanded and properly cleaned before you apply the first coast of paint if you want your paint to actually adhere and show off the inside of your home rather than show-up its imperfections. 

If this seems all too much, consider hiring a professional house painter, and forget the rest of this ideabook!

2. The wrinkled get wrinklier.

People tend to get more withered and lined as they age, right? And unless you're willing to pay through the nosejob for a round of expensive cosmetic surgery on your house, it's best to pile the paint upon a healthy, well-prepared substructure. Interior walls might be pocked with holes, however microscopic, different rooms will have to contend with different moisture levels, both on the surface and inside the walls. Consider the context and appropriately prime, patch and spackle before you start to sand and paint. Otherwise, your masterpiece of decoration might become a lifelong conservation project. 

3. Toe the line with textural effects.

Modern paint formulations are many and varied, and some emulsions are designed to render interesting and evocative textures when applied with a deft hand a level-headed vision of the overall effect. However, painted textures can easily tip the scales – step back and evaluate your handiwork regularly before your delightful faux marbling becomes a over fussy and unevenly applied faux pas

4. All work and no paint makes Jack a dull wall.

Ok, so you want to paint your walls to match the rustic exposed-beams of your barn-like living room. You want your space to speak a robust visual language. But you have to admit you're not going to let the chickens have the run of your lounge suite. Remember, your countryside idyll is a fantasy – you don't have to use colors as dull as the village idiot to achieve that peasant-chic effect. Go matte and employ a dun palette by all means, but consider that a bit of gloss might better show off the more restrained and humble architectural qualities of your home. 

5. Stop scheming and choose your colors carefully.

This handyman either couldn't choose between anemic pigeon-gray or tired salmon-pink – so went for both – or was wearing sunglasses when he checked his paint swatches looking for a complementary match. Find a professional or that hawk-eyed friend with a flair for design to help you choose colors that say hello to each other. Or, if you insist on going it alone – go for timeless white. 

6. There's a fine line between 'creativity' and catastrophe.

Watercolor Spots by Pixers Colonial

Watercolor Spots


You know something's wrong with your edgy home decoration ideas when guests ask you whether or not the damage from the bathroom leak upstairs is as extensive as it looks. Street art is all the rage, but to be honest the local tagger has more aesthetic cred than whomever commissioned – or drunkenly trailblazed – this psychedelic 'mural' of random water-and-food-coloring stains. Let's leave bold nighttime manoeuvres with paint to Banksy, do it outside as part of a voluntary community project, or at least be prepared to scrub it off and start again if you're going to let your inner 'creator' off its leash. Nice couch cushions though (pity that they're eaten by the background). 

7. Beware: one's inspiration is another's indifference.

Eureka: absolutely painting bright red-orange either side of your ye olde stone chimney piece is a good idea. No. Ask yourself these two questions. Will I tire of my divinely inspired color scheme in a couple of weeks? Will I find myself squinting and suffering from migraines? Through there are certain colors that you believe shriek 'my personality', remember that silence – or at least relative quiet – can be golden. And that goes for paint schemes, too. Strident palettes must be approached with care. 

And one more article we know you will love: Things to consider when renovating a home

8. Don't go for op-art genius unless you're an op-art genius.

First Floor Landing Modern Corridor, Hallway and Staircase by Studio Hooton Modern
Studio Hooton

First Floor Landing

Studio Hooton

It's a well known but little understood fact that a color can alter one's perception of space. Wielding paint like an illusionist's sly hand, a small room can be enlarged, a low ceiling can be heightened – and, vice versa, an agoraphobic salon can be made cozy, a lofty stud-height brought back down to earth. Do your research before you embark on a clever redefinition of your home's interior using optical effects. Here, the use of two different shades of gray paint in a room with a cute dormer window has narrowed the already cramped feel of the under-the-eaves space rather than pushing back the walls and ceiling. Nice cushions though. 

9. Resist the urge to slap color, color, everywhere…

… until there's not a drop to dot. Strong colors applied on every available surface can overwhelm a room. Often it's better to demonstrate restraint and paint a single wall in a carefully chosen, bolder color, leaving the rest to just chill out and do its thing in white or neutral tones. It's even more of a clutter if you're matching vibrant colors with textured surfaces as in this bathroom

10. Paint, don't pollute.

Watercolor graphics by Pixers Scandinavian

Watercolor graphics


Whole-wall murals are in – and then some – but balance has, supposedly, never left. So, if you're going for a graphic design on a Jackson Pollock scale, at least try and emulate the poor man's sense of visual rhythm. Balance and dynamism must be held in, well, balance, lest you contaminate the visual field in your otherwise soothing rooms. 

11. Don't abandon reason or rhyme.

What on earth is going on here? Exposed magenta-painted beams on the ceiling say 'red barn in the country'; the stainless steel flue says industrial chick, as in the immature farm bird; the bare, polished wooden floorboards are nice and conservatively minimal but the combination mantelpiece and shelving unit is reminiscent of an popular generic furniture store off cut for the 8-bit generation… and then there's the out sized floral stencil that appears to be growing out of a pair of photo-frames against a background of egg-yolk yellow that we can only suppose is meant to evoke 'sunshine'. A touch of whimsy and imagination can be interesting, but if you're not confident that your imagination is anything more than simply whimsical, take five and reformulate. 

Here is another article we know you will love: How to create an amazing loft bathroom


12. Don't go too far to the dark side.

Espacios decorados by Wallart Modern Walls and Floors by CUSTOMS handmade Modern
CUSTOMS handmade

Espacios decorados by Wallart

CUSTOMS handmade

Unless you're Helmut Newton or in some other way genuinely, coolly pseudo-sadomasochistic, it's best to avoid dominating your room by making it dress in nothing but a cloak of darkness. Making your space submit to your Gothic tendencies can simply result in your home whimpering in the corner rather than finding the courage to give itself up with confidence in a home-inhabitant relationship that you both can live with and love. Melodrama aside, godless paint schemes can be awe-inspiring and moody in a good way, or they can simply strike your space dumb and dingy. 

13. Never settle for sponging.

Keep your sponges in the bathroom, or better yet leave them on the coral reefs. Applying paint with sponges is an old-fashioned style widely used in the 1990's – yes, sorry, the 1990's are passe – and only spoken of in hushed and embarrassed tones in much the same manner that veteran medical professionals speak of long-eradicated diseases. 

14. Believe it – your home is not the Sistine Chapel.

Wall paint design by homify Asian

Wall paint design


And this artist certainly was a poor Michelangelo. Look, if your ten year-old wants Buzz Lightyear emblazoned on his bedroom wall, fine. Tape a bunch of triple-layer drop sheets over the furniture, hand over the brushes, neon acrylic and glitter paint and leave the room, depositing sufficient food and juice at the door, at regular intervals, until the budding Picasso emerges victorious or overcome by fumes. However, unless you plan on opening an Italian trattoria or a kebab house in your front room,  please refrain from painstakingly daubing allegorical or narrative-type picture-paintings on your walls. 

Put off painting your home interior altogether? Sorry. Here's a consolation prize:

10 ideas to dress your house walls (so it looks modern)!

We've told you how not to DIY when it comes to your home interior painting project – what are your tips for a successful redecoration job?
Modern Houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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