If you're a DIY lover, or have recently renovated a new home, it's inevitable you've got a few left-over paint pots lying around. Instead of letting these lovely paints go to waste, try a tester pot project instead! We've rounded up some creative and enjoyable DIY projects that can be done at your own leisure, from a painted chest of drawers to a faux headboard.

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Sample paint projects - what to do with leftover paint

Colour blocking

Matt emulsion in Friendly Pink, Fresh Yellow, Fresh Aqua, from £21 per 1L, YesColours

Emma Bestley, Creative Partner of YesColours reveals how to makeover your room using less paint. 'Rather than taking on the task of painting an entire room, look for areas to be creative. Consider where you can inject colour and personality without too much fuss.

One option is colour blocking – a clever way to zone a space. Or, you could consider adding a little extra flair with a painted arch, horizontal strip or organic shape in your favourite colour. Another brilliant quick task to enhance a room would be to paint a frame or block of colour onto your wall around your framed art, or a mirror.

Overall, the most important thing is to let your imagination run wild. Your walls are a blank canvas, ready and waiting for you to reinvent your space. After all, you can always paint it back if you change your mind!

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Zone your home

Simply Refresh One Coat paint in Drift, Golden Sands, Blood Orange, £43.19 per 2.5L, Dulux

Energise your working day by zoning the area around your desk with bright colours. Yellows and oranges will help to keep you motivated, while a dash of nearby blue will act as an aid for deep thinking. Using different shades to define areas for specific activities, such as working, reading or sleeping, can help your mind to focus on the task.

It’s a neat trick in children’s bedrooms, or for breaking up large open-plan living areas. Apply the basics of colour psychology to your paint choices and select bold tones for a lively, fun-filled area or tone things down with tranquil pastels or very deep hues in spaces designed for relaxation. Choose a pale base tone for the rest of your walls to tie your scheme together.

Create a faux headboard

Matt Emulsion in Snowdrop, from £18 for 2.5L Flat Matt Emulsion in Cushion Craze, from £37.99 for 2.5L, Crown

Get in on the shaped headboard trend without splashing out hundreds of pounds for a new piece of furniture. Painting your headboard straight onto the wall instead means you’ll have a choice of thousands of colours and hundreds of shapes.

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Minimalist styles, such as curves or straight-edged blocks are quick to apply and you can easily create this look in an afternoon. If you have a bit more time, why not try something more ornate, like a stepped or scalloped design? Use washable paint for these headboards as regular contact with the wall can cause marks to build up.

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Upcycle furniture

Wood Paint in Bishop Blue, Dulcote Stone and Peregrine Blue, £20 per 750ml, Thorndown

Revamping large pieces of furniture can make a big difference to how your room feels, sometimes even more so than painting on your walls. It’s an easy way to add colour to rented homes and a fun project to take out into the garden on dry days.

Upgrading your drawers with stripes makes use of small amounts of paint in different hues, so it’s ideal if you have a lot of tester pots hanging around. For a refined effect, pick a palette of three colours and repeat these across the piece.

If you want to create something more playful, why not try a rainbow or blend similar hues together for an ombré look? Remember to check the formula of the paint you’re using to see what kind of finishing it might need to help the new colours stand up to everyday use.

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Painted alcoves

easyclean Matt Emulsion in Cream White and Mustard Jar, both £25 for 2.5L, Crown

Open up your alcoves with radiant colour. Far from being dark corners, these recessed features can be turned into the focal points of your room. Sunshine yellow and sky blue are great choices for complementing the view outside of your window and you can go on to paint the window frame with specialist paint too.

If your alcoves are set into the wall around a fireplace, punchy orange tones will make the room feel cosier. If you don’t have alcoves, you can apply this principle to shelving units and bookcases instead.

Stencil art

Walls in Napoleonic Blue wall paint, £41.95 per 2.5L, Flowers in English Yellow, Emperor’s Silk, Pure and Amsterdam Green chalk paint, £23.95 per 1L; Meadow Flowers stencil, £17.95, all Annie Sloan

Stippling brushes at the ready! Stencils are back from the Nineties to brighten up dull walls. These straightforward templates are a super-flexible alternative to wallpaper, you can use them to add a little (or a lot!) of playful pattern. Make it your own by choosing your favourite colours and play with placement in different areas of the room.

One of the joys of stencilling is the slightly imperfect final result. It plays into the folksy, handmade trend of the last few years and you’ll enjoy knowing you did it all yourself. If you indulged in this trend the last time around, you’re probably already a dab-hand but, if you’re starting out on your stencil journey there are a few tips you need to remember.

Spray the back of the stencil with a low-tack spray adhesive before you begin, this will help to stop the stencil from moving while you work. Always use a small amount of paint at a time, it’s a good idea to start with a brush or sponge that is almost dry to build up a barrier around the edge of the stencil before filling in the middle. Apply the paint at a right angle to the wall, dabbing it in small sections until you get the desired effect.

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Painted doors

Shine a spotlight on woodwork by dressing it up in a daring new shade. A fresh coat of colour will bring the delicate details of traditional style carpentry into focus. If your mouldings are more streamlined, the change in tone will add sharp, graphic interest to your room.

Pump up the volume by adding a pop of contrasting colour to your existing scheme. Using shades that sit on the opposite sides of the colour wheel is a quick stylist’s trick to create dynamic looks.

Pink and green is an Instagram favourite and a great example of this hack. You can also try a duo of lilac and lemon for energising living areas, as well as a zesty orange and blue combo as shown to full effect in this hallway and dining room.


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Hannah Tribe is Staff Writer for HomeStyle magazine