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How to do half painted walls

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Antonio Wedral
How to do half painted walls

Half painted walls are a big home decor trend right now. They are an inspired interior design feature for any room with a low ceiling and an easy low-cost way of elevating the look of your room to a whole new level. Split wall painting is also a great artistic idea if you want to experiment with bold dark or bright colours but don’t want to risk overdoing it. And if you aspire to give your home a chic, classic style but live in a modern build, half painting your walls can be a brilliant way to sprinkle character over a room lacking in original features.

How do you paint a half painted wall?

Opt for the lighter colour at the top, and paint this first. You will need to mark the line where you want the two colours to meet. Use measuring tape going up from the skirting board first to the point where you want to divide the wall, and then mark at regular intervals with a pencil (get your trusty spirit level out to make sure it’s straight) across the wall.

Complete all the coats of the top half using a paint roller – don’t worry if you paint slightly over the mark at this point – and make sure they are completely dry, before applying masking tape above the line. Use a paintbrush and start by painting your darker colour just over the edge of the masking tape, then use a roller to paint the rest. Do a second coat of the part of the wall that meets the tape. Then it’s really important to – slowly and carefully! – remove the tape before the paint is dry, otherwise it will form a seal on the wall, before you paint the rest of the final coat.

Is it ok to half paint a wall?

Of course! As an interior design feature, split wall painting will give any room a timeless and well tailored feel, be it your dining area, office, or even a kid’s bedroom. It’s a particularly good idea if your rooms are small, you want to elevate the look to something stronger, or you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone but are a bit of a scaredy cat about taking a brave move like, say, painting a room black or a bright pink. Half and half wall painting removes the danger of over-doing it. However, don’t feel like the wall has to be half and half – for a moodier look, you could do two thirds in the stronger colour, and leave one third lighter at the top. Or how about making the line a diagonal, for a more dramatic effect?

How do you split a wall in paint?

As mentioned above, you will need a measuring tape and a pencil, a spirit level and masking tape or FrogTape to mark the two sections. FrogTape can be the best choice for a job like this that really needs crisp, clean straight lines, because it forms a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape and prevents paint from bleeding. You may also have a dado rail or picture rail that will perform a natural dividing line for your different paint colours.

Single Feature walls

Your half and half painted walls could be all across the room, or they could be a single feature wall. For this, pick a wall that is different to the others – an alcove wall is a good idea here. Or how about a diagonal split wall going up the stairs? A single half-painted feature wall in a bedroom is a strong, dramatic look, too – do it behind your bed and it can act as a bed-head if your bed doesn’t have one, and makes it the main focus of the room (because, of course, your bed is possibly the most important thing in your home) .

Perfect for low ceiling rooms

While half-painted walls are a great idea for rooms with high ceilings – they save a lot of trouble on painting strong colours right to the top for a start! – they’re particularly effective for rooms with low ceilings, especially common in more modern houses and flats. Using lighter colours at the top will create the illusion of height – because if you paint a strong colour right to the top, you’re drawing attention to the ceiling and, as a result, also the floor space. Choose your paint shades wisely with colours that make a room look bigger. Half wall painting can also create a wainscotting (the wooden panelling on the lower part of a room) effect, adding characterful, period-style features to your home.

Tackling pictures & dado rails

If you live in a period home, your walls may well have dado rails. They tend to be 90cm up from the floor, around chair height, and, at the time, served the practical purpose of protecting the walls from getting bashed by furniture. But they are also great aesthetically, as are picture rails, with both giving the room a timeless feel. These run nearer the top of the room, usually around the height of the door frame, so a much larger portion of the room will be painted in the bottom colour if the picture rail is your dividing feature. Generally, this will be the darker colour, but there’s no reason you couldn’t do things the other way round to add a smaller pop of colour to a light and breezy room. Decide whether you want the rail itself to be painted in the top or bottom colour, and apply FrogTape and make sure the rail is dust free before painting.

Lining up cupboards & shelving

The kitchen might not seem like the most obvious room for adopting the half-painted wall trend, but it can elevate the most used room in the house from functional to stylish, and is a simple way to reimagine the space. It makes sense to line up your paint divisions with any top cupboards to keep things streamlined. This could also apply to other rooms, such as your home office space, by lining up the split wall with your shelving to create clean lines and avoid a messy look.

Making a small room look more spacious is always a challenge, so, at Swyft, we like to explore all the best tricks to help you reimagine the look of your home. Learn how we make use of small spaces with our Small space sofa buying guide.

Browse our sofa and armchair ranges to find the perfect sofa for your home.

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