Published on February 11, 2020

black room with large colorful squaresPin It
Photography by Jessica Antola

The reason most of us don’t cover every inch of our homes with wallpaper is simple math: A roll costs an average of $25 to $50, so you’ll likely spend around $1,000 making over a decent-size room. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for a boring solid paint color, though—you’ll be surprised how much you can do with a brush. 

There are infinite ways to spice up your walls, and skill has nothing to do with it. You can totally wing your strokes (free-form painting is incredibly liberating), map out illustrations with a pencil, or stick with familiar geometric shapes, all to mesmerizing effect. These 10 wall painting designs will get you thinking outside the solid-hued box.

The Simple Silhouettes

This landscape is about as uncomplicated as it gets—the pattern is so straightforward that blogger Cassie Bustamante didn’t even sketch it out before deciding to swathe her blank white hallway in the dark green curves. Once all her arches had dried, she used a small angled artist’s brush to clean up the edges. 

The Corner Accent

hanging plant in cornerPin It
Photography by Abbey Chiavario

According to artist Abbey Chiavario, a mural doesn’t have to be a whole wall and a project doesn’t have to be expensive to be eye-catching. Using leftover (aka free!) paint she had from another project, she created a vibrant citrus backdrop for a hanging plant in her office. 

The Geometric Forms

colore blocked wall in shades of pinkPin It
Photography by Andrea Behrends

This tone-on-tone scheme at the Russel Hotel in Nashville is all about crisp lines and large fields of color. If you’re good with a ruler and a level, these nontraditional blocks are calling your name. 

The Supersize Doodle

black squiggles down a staircasePin It
Photography by Ashley Mary

Drawing squiggles isn’t just for kids. Thick black swirls, like the ones in this stairway, designed by muralist Ashley Mary, can be ultra-elevated when implemented on an extra-large scale. 

The Color-Blocked Doorway 

abstract squares and squittles in blue and yellowPin It
Photography by Liz Kamarul

Believe it or not, Liz Kamarul tackled each shape in this arrangement without any blue tape. The design blogger and DIY-er says marking all the lines slow her down—and doesn’t change the fact that bleeding is inevitable. Instead, she suggests using a different brush for each blob and taking the time to achieve a seamless edge by hand.  

The Strokes of Genius

Muralist Tiffany Lusteg took a patchwork-like approach to this sweet playroom. Shade by shade, she layered various tones of pink and touches of gold until she was left with winding, cloudlike forms. 

The Status Symbols

pink and red boho kitchenPin It
Photography by Jest Cafe

Mila Moraga-Holz went beyond circles and rectangles for her colorful breakfast nook, featuring abstract nods to plant life and stars. After painting the background Radicchio by Farrow & Ball, the blogger drew her shapes with a pencil and filled them in using sample-size cans of latex paint, applying two to three coats for each figure. 

The Portraits 

pink and red face mural on wallPin It
Photography Courtesy of Dive Motel & Swim Club

The only thing cooler than a platform bed is a groovy mural that spans the whole wall behind it. The three-tone profiles at the Dive Hotel & Swim Club in Nashville get rid of the need for a headboard. 

The Floral Exterior 

abstract floral desing on outside of buildingPin It
Photography by Studio Proba

The Kin Euphorics building in Brooklyn, designed by Studio Proba, makes a case for taking your brightest ideas outside. Just be sure to select a paint that’s latex based (they’re the most durable and dry the fastest).

The Ombré Arches 

multi shade arches in boys roomPin It
Photography by Banyan Bridges

Canadian muralist Racheal Jackson’s kids aren’t likely to grow tired of this trio of gradient archways, each one of which has three layers (dark, medium, and light). Switch out the art and change up the bedding and—voilà!—a whole new room.

See more stories like this: 
Painting Your Walls Freehand Is Incredibly Liberating
A Mural Is the Antidote to Gallery Wall Burnout
Now More Than Ever, I Need (Not Want) Plaster Walls

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