Decorative Paint Ideas

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders on a wall, but drop the traditional roller and brush. There are a variety of painting techniques that are easy, cost-effective, and stunning. Here are just a few:

Rag Rolling

If you want to cover up imperfections on your wall, consider rag rolling. This technique uses a base coat with a glaze in a contrasting shade. Once the base coat is dry, saturate a lint-free cloth in the glaze. Fold the four corners in and roll it up—the more folds and curves the better. Then simply roll the rag across the wall in various directions, reapplying the glaze as needed.


Like corduroy for your walls, dragging creates a beautiful striped effect. The gauge of the cords varies, depending on what type of brush you use. Apply your base coat and let it dry, and then apply the top glaze. While it is still wet, take a clean “dragging” brush and drag down the length of the wall to create the striped effect. You can drag vertically or horizontally. For a checkered effect, do both!


Spattering is a great way to add texture to a wall—but be careful. Spattering an entire wall, especially with fine dots, can be dizzying. For starters, try it on an accent wall. Once your base coat is dry, dip the end of a clean brush into the first color you want to spatter (darkest to lightest works best). Stand 6–8 inches away from the wall and tap the brush against the handle of another brush to create this colorful, spotted effect.

Color Washing

Create a soft, dreamy atmosphere in your room with this effect, which is a little like seeing everything through sunlight. To achieve color washing first cover the wall with a base coat. Once the base coat is dry, apply a contrasting glaze with a soft cloth (for a subtle appearance) or a sponge (for more texture) with a random circular motion—as if you’re washing windows.


Sponging was a popular technique in the 1980s, but it gets a modern twist—and creates beautiful texture on your wall—with soft, neutral colors. Let your base coat dry, and then dip a damp sponge into your top coat (a glaze paint will create that soft, contemporary look). Ring the sponge out and blot it on paper, then pat it lightly onto the wall.

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a simple way to create texture. It is reminiscent of cottages all over the Mediterranean. Once your base coat is dry, dip a hard-bristled brush into a glaze top coat. Blot off any excess—you want to keep the brush as dry as possible. Apply the top coat to the wall, using short, rapid brushstrokes in all directions.