Update your decor with easy paint projects

Highlighting accents with a fresh coat of paint can liven up a room.

Story highlights

  • Wary of painting all four walls? For high impact, highlight one detail with color
  • From stair risers to crown molding, painting these accents can give a room a lift
  • Paint your patio furniture with high-gloss paint for a strong focal point
Paint Furniture
Tips and tricks: Don't be afraid to go with a potent color, especially if the walls and the trim are neutral. Before painting, prep furniture with a flexible-foam sanding sponge, which can "get around curves, legs, and grooves," says Cathie Filian, a host of the DIY Network's Creative Juice. If the piece has a wax finish, remove it with denatured alcohol first.
Best paint for the job: "High-gloss paint will turn a piece into a strong focal point," says Edward Schaefer, a decorative painter in North Bergen, New Jersey, while "semigloss will freshen it up without emphasizing flaws."
Paint an Inexpensive Mirror
Tips and tricks: A plain mirror can have an expensive custom look when you paint it a color that coordinates with others in the room, says Schaefer. To work most effectively, position the mirror so you can paint evenly around the edges. Place a small mirror over a sturdy bowl or a large one on a small stool, and put down newspapers to catch spatters. Using a brush the approximate width of the frame will help minimize dripping.
Best paint for the job: A paint with a glossy finish will give a frame "a little sheen," says Filian. Interior designer Robert LaHatt suggests adding a few coats of clear varnish for a lacquered effect.
Paint Interior Doors
Tips and tricks: Changing the color of an interior door can take a room from drab to fab. But too much contrast between the door and the wall can be jarring, warns Filian. If your walls are bright, choose a similarly lively color for the door. If they're subdued, go for a soft shade. Be sure to paint the frame too, so the door doesn't seem to float in space.
Best paint for the job: It's easiest to clean smudges and grime off gloss or semigloss paint. But avoid paints that are super-shiny -- they tend to reveal even the tiniest nicks and dents.
Paint Crown Molding
Tips and tricks: Painting crown moldings a color that contrasts slightly with the walls can give a room a crisp, tailored look and create an appealing frame for works of art. In general, avoid dark colors, which attract too much attention to the moldings. "You want to draw the eye to the furnishings in the room, like a fancy lamp, and not the ceiling," says color consultant James Martin, a Denver-based consultant whose firm specializes in forecasting color trends. However, if the ceiling is so high that it is out of proportion to the room, a high-contrast ribbon of paint can help make the space feel less vast.
Best paint for the job: Choose high-gloss or semigloss, says Filian: "Matte doesn't have the same kind of kick."
Paint Stair Risers
Tips and tricks: A dark color in a glossy finish hides scuff marks best. (When risers get nicks, says LaHatt, just "fill them in with a Sharpie.") If you want to test colors before committing, cut cardboard pieces to the size of the risers, paint them, and position them on the steps to approximate the effect. When you're ready to go, prime the risers, then add at least two coats of paint. If you wait a day, then add a third coat, the paint will be even more durable.
Best paint for the job: Semigloss and high-gloss finishes withstand high traffic best.
Paint Interior Window Frames
Tips and tricks: A painted window frame can enhance a view and add character to a room. Consider choosing a color that complements the landscape outside, but make sure it doesn't contrast too much with the walls or steal the show from the scenery, advises Martin. "If you have too much contrast," he says, "you don't look out the window -- you look at the window."
Best paint for the job: Semigloss paint is a good choice because it is resistant to fingerprints and whatever nature delivers through an open window, including rain and soot, says Schaefer.