Stack of leftover paint cans should be put to good use

  • Bold colors on a door, lamp or wall hangings can brighten up a room.

    Bold colors on a door, lamp or wall hangings can brighten up a room. Photos courtesy of Chronicle Books

  • Carefully prepare surfaces before adding a new layer of paint. Drawer fronts should be sanded and wiped clean, and hardware should be washed in soapy water.

    Carefully prepare surfaces before adding a new layer of paint. Drawer fronts should be sanded and wiped clean, and hardware should be washed in soapy water.

  • A painted vintage frame with textured details becomes a piece of art all by itself. Group it with framed photos to create a stunning vignette.

    A painted vintage frame with textured details becomes a piece of art all by itself. Group it with framed photos to create a stunning vignette.

 
CTW Features
Posted1/14/2012 6:00 AM

Got leftover paint from a recent paint job? Don't consign it to the graveyard of paint cans in the basement. A small amount of paint can serve to touch up edges, molding or furniture.

Incidentally, leftover paint stores better and is easier to identify in a clear plastic peanut butter or mayonnaise jar, recommends Chris Ring, vice president of operations and training for ProTect Painters, a national house-painting franchise based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As for the rest, why not use it instead of getting rid of it? Here are some projects that breathe new life into last year's paint and create new points of interest around a home.

Repurpose an ornate picture frame as art in its own right. "Look for a frame at a flea market or junk shop that is in good shape and has something about it that speaks to you," says interior design consultant Holly Becker, founder and editor of decor8, the popular home design blog.

"I like using ornate vintage frames because, with a little soap and water, a light sanding and a few coats of paint, you can lean it up against the wall or prop it on the mantel and use as a decorative element," says Becker, also the co-author of "Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home" (Chronicle Books, 2011).

"Just make sure to carefully remove and discard the glass and frame backing first."

Paint only the shelf edges or door frames for an element of surprise. Painting the shelf edges in a cupboard or closet adds an unexpected pop of color. It's easy to do and doesn't require a lot of paint; even leftover test pots will get the job done.

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"A strong, clean edge -- perhaps in black with white shelves -- is bold and graphic. That will give your cabinet or bookcase a modern edge," Becker says. "If you tend to lean on the side of understated, go with something pale, like gray, mint or blue."

Painting the moldings around a door "is a fresh way to liven up a space on a budget and adds a quirky touch," Becker says.

Paint dresser drawer fronts or hardware for an entirely new look. If your dresser already is painted or stained, you can paint over the finish, but any surface you plan to paint must be "clean, dull and dry," Ring says.

Remove the knobs or handles and sand the drawer fronts using a fine grade of sandpaper. Wipe the sanded surfaces with a damp cloth and allow them to dry completely before applying a coat of primer, following the manufacturer's instructions. Apply a coat or two of paint to the primed surfaces. Reattach the hardware once the paint has dried completely.

To prepare hardware for painting, remove it from the furniture and clean in soapy water first.

Deck the walls of a dollhouse. "One of the best gifts my sisters and I received as children was a new dollhouse, handmade and delivered unpainted. My parents painted the exterior with paint left over from a recent refresh of our home's exterior, and this made the gift all the more special," says Carrie McBride, managing editor of Apartment Therapy's online magazine Ohdeedoh. "We loved thinking of this little house as a miniature version of our own, and the same idea could be used for interior paints within a dollhouse."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No kids? A dollhouse is a quirky way to display collectibles and curios for those with a knack for arranging.

Did you know?

When it's time to part with paint, it's OK to put it in the garbage if it's dried or solidified. Add cat litter if necessary to absorb the moisture and harden the paint. Leftover paint that's still usable can be donated to Habitat for Humanity or to local drama clubs for set design.

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