How to use up leftover paint samples

Cassie Pryce leftover tester pots to good use with these small-scale craft projects that will spruce up your home, whilst helping to clear out your cupboards

1. Frame a feature

Painting the area behind a picture frame or mirror is a great way to accent this part of the room and draw attention to your wall décor. For example, paint a large rectangle on the wall behind a gallery wall to zone this space and make it stand out against the rest of the room. You’ll need to use painters’ tape to neatly mask off the area to be painted and peel it off when the paint is still slightly wet, to achieve crisp lines. Alternatively, you can use small tester pots to add decorative paint effects to the walls; stencil a series of a stars to the wall of a nursery, or create a polka dot feature wall with daubs of paint for a fun talking point. 


2. Refresh furniture

Rustic dipped stool in yellow, £69, Vincent and Barn

Upcycling is another great way to use paint samples that you no longer need. Bear in mind that one pot won’t stretch to a full revamp for a large piece of furniture, so choose something small to tackle. Creating a dip-dye effect on a stool, for example, will take just a couple of hours and can completely transform a drab piece into something fabulous. To create a dipped effect, simply paint either the bottom parts of the legs, or reverse the technique and paint the top part, leaving the bottom exposed. Use tape to make sure your paint line is kept neat. 


3. Add a pattern

Chairs painted in Chalk Paint, from £5.95 per 120ml sample pot, pattern made using detail brushes. All Annie Sloan

Another way to upcycle unloved furniture or accessories is to use paint to add a pattern to their surface. You can either use a stencil or go freehand with a thin brush, depending on the design you’d like to create. Look online for inspiration and choose something to suit your skill level; an abstract spotty design, for instance, is a good place to begin, then you could build up to more intricate patterns such as flowers or animal motifs as your handiwork improves. As well as furniture, this technique also works well on wooden crates, trays or boxes to give them an inexpensive facelift. 


4. Create abstract art

If you’ve purchased several tester pots of paint, chances are they are colours you like. Although they may not have been quite right for the walls, put them to good use to create your very own abstract painting to adorn your newly decorated room.

You don’t need a steady hand or great artistic ability; use a mixture of different sized paintbrushes to slap brushstrokes onto a canvas and gradually build up a layered look. Step back frequently to look at the canvas in different lights and keep adding to it until you feel it’s finished. You could even add texture by sticking gauze to the surface of the canvas and painting over the top for a 3D finish. If you’re after a more contemporary, geometric design, use painter’s tape to mark out a linear pattern on the canvas and paint the different segments in shades from your tester pots. Remember you can always add a little white paint to lighten the colours if needed, or to turn one pot into several graduating shades. 


5. Paint frames

Frames coloured using POSCA pens, £17.99, Mitsubishi Pencil Company

Breathe new life into dated picture frames by giving them a lick of paint from your tester pot collection. Remove the photo, glass and backing board before you begin and lay the frame on a protected surface. Once you’ve wiped off any dust, apply the paint generously to the front and sides of the frame and leave to dry thoroughly before reassembling.

For a distressed or rustic finish, use a piece of fine-grade sandpaper to rub over the paintwork and create a shabby-chic effect. Alternatively, use marker pens to add more intricate patterns to top off your paintwork, or sprinkle a little glitter into the wet paint for a shimmering finish. 


6.  Bring the outdoors in

Branch painted in Garden Shades Fresh Rosemary, £29.76 for 2.5L, Cuprinol 

Put your lockdown walks to good use and forage for beautiful pieces of nature that can find a place in your home. Large pebbles, for example, can be cleaned and painted to make a decorative bathroom display, or transform a chunky tree branch into a handy hook rail using leather straps and cup hooks. Always take care to thoroughly clean anything you pick up outdoors and make sure it’s dry before painting

Read more: How to spring clean your garden

Read more: 6 Colours to warm up your house

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