How to Paint Designs on Walls and Ceilings

Dress Up Your Space with a Painted Design

Man and woman with boy and girl painting hearts on wall
Chris Ryan / Getty Images

One trick that interior decorators use to add visual interest, movement, and color in a room is to use a repetitive design or pattern. Painting designs on walls or ceilings make a bold yet beautiful statement and are not as hard as you may think. It does not take as much artistic talent if you use a few creative tricks for painting designs.

Painting a design on a wall or ceiling is very inexpensive.

With the right tools, a one or two-color design is easy to complete in a weekend.

Tools Needed to Paint Designs

  • Acrylic or latex paint
  • 1-inch sponge brush (one for each color of paint)
  • Colored pencil(s) in the same color as paint*
  • Overhead projector**
  • Your pattern or design printed in black and white on a standard sheet of paper
  • 8- by 10-inch piece of glass or transparency film
  • Fine-tipped Sharpie or another permanent marker

*Artist-grade colored pencils usually will erase more easily than less expensive brands.
**Many public libraries have overhead projectors available to the public for free. Local schools or organizations may also have a projector that they don’t mind lending you for this project.

Instructions to Paint a Wall Design

  1. Place your paper with your pattern under the glass or transparency film and, using your permanent marker, trace your pattern onto the glass or film.
  2. Set up the overhead projector in the area where you will be working. Turn it on, and place the glass or film on the projector. Your pattern should now be displayed on the wall or ceiling. Adjust the projector for scale and focus, as needed.
  1. Using your colored pencil(s), copy your design onto your wall or ceiling. If you chose a one-color design, remember that overlapping lines and shapes will not show up when painted all one color.
  2. Using your sponge brush, fill in the design with your chosen paint color. Darker colors may take more than one coat. You can also use a roller or paint brush to apply the coating.

    More Painted Design Options

    Another method to paint wall designs is to trace out your design and use painter's tape to mark edges that separate different colors.To get a rugged edge, tear off the tape edge and create a not-so-straight line. Prefer a typographic design instead of a pattern? Add some custom letters or words to a wall such as a monogram. Most rooms look great with a few stripes or waves added, and you can vary paint colors to match the color palette of the room. More recently, ombre designs (when the color fades in tone gradually either vertically or horizontally) are also popular for painted designs.

    If you are the more artistic type, you could try free sponge-painting or free painting on a wall to add some visual interest.