DIY Painting & Finishing

19 Cool Projects You Can Do with Leftover Paint

A gallon of gas? It won't get you too far. A gallon of milk? If you have a big family, it can be gone in a day. But a gallon of paint? It can go a long way, meaning leftover paint is a common occurrence. If you share our quest to make everything old new again, consider using the leftover paint to renew or revamp your home. Here are 19 cool projects you can do with 128 ounces or less.

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Door to Door

If you’re in the mood for near-instant gratification, you’ll love this quick and easy door project. Simply mark off the area of the door you don’t want painted, and cover the rest of with a bold splash of color. To get the full effect, make sure to paint the doorknob, too.

Related:  10 Unexpected Spots for Accent Colors

Sitting Pretty

Believe it or not, dining furniture doesn’t need to be monochromatic. If your boring chairs need a boost, paint select sections—such as the bottoms of the legs or top of the back—in an eye catching accent color.

Related: Seat Yourself: 11 Ways to DIY Your Own Chair

Concealed Color

To jazz up a simple desk or dresser, apply a coat of paint to an unexpected area: the sides of the drawers. For best results, prime the surface, then use latex or oil-based paint. You’ll be greeted with a colorful surprise every time you pull out a drawer!

Related: 9 Ways to DIY a Dresser on a Dime

Lighten Up

Do you have a beautiful lamp that simply doesn’t match your decor? Refinish the base with a fresh coat of chalk paint! Ashlea from This Mamas Dance took her project one step further by adding antiquing wax to accentuate the lamp’s details.

Related: 16 Brilliant Lighting Ideas You Can DIY on a Dime

Bold Backsplash

Is an ugly backsplash putting a damper on your kitchen? Instead of installing new tile, which takes lots of time and effort, paint over the existing tiles. This major transformation only took one quart of paint, as well as some primer, sandpaper, painters tape, and drop cloths. Always check with the tile manufacturer to determine the best paint and method for the job. 

Related: 11 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Paint DIYs

Frame It

Chances are, you have unused or outdated picture frames stacked in a closet somewhere. Give them a new life with a fresh paint job, and you’ll gain the perfect piece for displaying family pictures, artwork, or the weekly menu.

Related: 10 Unusual Tricks for Your Easiest-Ever Paint Job

Off the Wall

Who says you your new paint job needs to cover the whole wall? A flat 1″ wide craft brush and less than a gallon of paint is all you need to create this freeform statement wall. Just remember to take time to stand back from your wall every now and then, to make sure your pattern is balanced.

Related:  Ordinary Walls Become Extraordinary with Fool-Proof Paint-On Accents

Fireside Flash


If your fireplace underwhelms you, a complete redo is not your only option for making it more appealing. Both tile and brick take very well to paint, and a brightly colored coat or two will make your hearth seem like new. If it’s a working fireplace (and you use it), a no-VOC semi-gloss is the best paint for the job.

Related:  10 Rooms to Warm Up with a Fireplace

Fit and Trim

Sometimes the simplest change can produce dramatic effects, like the shiny black trim on this otherwise white kitchen woodwork. Once you’ve decided on an accent color, the only other materials you’ll need are a ladder, a paintbrush, and a steady hand.

Related:  Going Bold—10 Kitchens That Pop with Color

Smart Shelving

By painting the back of a shelving unit, you’ll create a visual focal point while drawing attention to displayed items. This trick works for bookshelves, built-ins, glass-doored cabinets, and more!

Related: 9 Things You Never Thought to Paint—But Should

On the Down Low

Have a tired rug that could use a pick me up? A little paint goes a long way when it’s used to accent a plain, flat weave rug. After taping down your pattern of choice, a roller brush will help you apply the first coat of cover. A stencil brush will also come in handy if you need to fill in any gaps.

Related:  10 Doable Designs for a DIY Rug


Paint can transform a dated (but functional) piece of furniture for a fraction of the cost it takes to replace it. This old dresser’s new look is courtesy of a gray shade of chalk paint, “roughed up” with strategically placed streaks of a darker finishing wax. The result is a charming piece of Americana.

Related:  Drab to Fab—10 Fantastic Furniture Makeovers

Window of Opportunity

What a difference a little paint makes! By covering only the inside grid of these windows, your eye is drawn to the light and perhaps, a beautiful view. A diligent application of painters’ tape will keep you coloring inside the lines.

Related:  Awesome Accents—17 Ways to Make Any Space Pop with Color

Designer Drapes

If you’re redecorating a room, try salvaging the old curtains by adding playful stripes. Mark off the stripes with painter tape (measuring first to ensure a uniform pattern), then apply a few coats of latex paint to the fabric.

Related: The Most Popular Paint Colors in America

From the Top

Completely transform a side table in 15 minutes by painting only the top. This shabby-chic design was achieved with chalk paint in a bright blue color, which creates a bold decor statement in an otherwise neutral room.

Related: 11 Paint Colors Designers Pick for Their Own Homes

Cooking with Color

From spoons to spatulas, wooden utensils are a kitchen necessity. Make your utensils both functional and beautiful by painting the handles a vibrant color. All you need is painter’s tape, a foam brush, and some leftover paint. Just be sure not to apply paint to the food-handling part of the utensil, and avoid wetting the painted area for a longer-lasting finish.

Related: 13 Weirdly Awesome Ways to Paint a Room

Show Your Stripes

To replicate this chevron-striped accent wall, measure out your stripes and mark with a pencil; then apply painters tape to your pattern. Once you’ve prepped, use a roller brush to paint on the color.

Related:  10 Top Tips to Make Any Paint Job Go Faster

Colorful Cabinetry

Believe it or not, you can paint your kitchen cabinets in an afternoon. For best results, remove the doors and hardware first. Re-installing them is easy, since your drill holes have already been piloted.

Related:  Painted Cabinets—14 Reasons to Transform Yours Now

Fixture Facelift

New lighting fixtures can cost a pretty penny, especially if you’re seeking an elegant chandelier for the kitchen or dining room. Instead of shelling out the cash, try upgrading your old fixture with a few coats of leftover paint.

Related: 10 Top Tips to Make Any Paint Job Go Faster

Power of Paint

Don’t let those cans of paint sitting in your garage go to waste. Grab a paint brush and give one of these DIYs a try. It’s a quick and effective way to make cosmetic changes around the house.