5 Easy Steps to Transform Your Space with Color Blocking on a Budget

Yep. That’s it. Five simple steps to make a maximum impact on a minimal budget.

If you aren’t aware of what color blocking is, let me help. Color blocking is a trend that has a long-standing relationship with the fashion world, but has taken the interior design social media world by storm over the last year or so.

Color blocking incorporates bold, impactful, opaque shapes on an otherwise-monochrome wall (or floor, or ceiling). For this tutorial, the color block I am explaining will take the form of a triangle by using diagonal lines. This isn’t the only way to block, though. Some designers like Liz Kamarul use unusual shapes to bring a level of intrigue into a space. The best part about color blocking? It’s just paint. If you hate it, you can cover it right back up and forget it even happened. Basically: high impact, low budget, low commitment. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?!

Jake and I personally have three rooms in our house that have some form of color block and I am consistently blown away at how little effort it takes to make a room go from run-of-the-mill to a place that makes your eyes dance around.

My first color block was in our guest room, the very one from the graphic at the top of this post. I wasn’t planning on this in the initial design whatsoever; I happened to walk past the paint aisle at Home Depot when I got a wild idea to try it out. I arbitrarily picked a color: a deep, neutral-green. I purchased a quart and got to work immediately.

At the time, I didn’t use a step-by-step guide because that is how easy it is to color block. I grabbed a laser level, taped along the lines using Frog Tape (my personal favorite failsafe), picked up my Wooster Shortcut brush, and within three hours, my project was complete. Now that I’ve done it a few times, I have some advice to offer up.

Step One: Choose Wisely

The green accents the deep tones in the rug

Do as I say, and not as I do. Yes, I meandered into a Home Depot paint section and chose a color within seconds and left. Perhaps this is a method that would work well for you, but I don’t think I’d recommend this to just anyone. But don’t let me stop you!
I would choose a color that is not the one you see when you first enter the room; instead, choose an accent or complimentary color to the main one. Start by looking at the colors in patterns on your rugs, on the lamp shades or curtains, and in the decor in the room. Choose a color that stands out to you. Take a photo of whatever that color is, and bring it with you when you go to pick a paint color.

Step Two: Equip Thyself

While you are picking up paint, I would also pick up the proper tools for this job. I mentioned them before, but I will give a semi-definitive list here:

  • laser level — I use this one for single lines, and this one for triangular shapes *not* stemming from a corner.
  • painter’s tape — I use Frog Tape. It has yet to fail me.
  • a good paintbrush — I use the Wooster Shortcut. It has a rubbery handle that flexes in your hand. It’s very ergonomically-friendly.
  • roller handle and cover — this one depends on how large of a space you’re color blocking. I would use this for larger spaces or to expedite the process.
  • something flat, such as a putty knife or a thin, firm book — this will make sense later.

Step Three: Laser & Tape

At this point, you’ve picked out your paint color. You’ve made sure that you have all of the above materials. You’re ready to begin.

Remember, we are creating a color block with a triangular shape here, so if you’re using a more unique or rounded shape, disregard this portion.

Using your laser level, turn it on and point it in the direction that you would like the line(s) in your color block to go. For my guest bedroom, I used the Skil laser level with the cross-line function so I could have the perfect 45-degree angle above the bed, but for my living room I just used a single line stemming from the corner joint where two walls meet the ceiling. Tape your lines using your painter’s tape, and grab your “something flat” and run it along the edge of the tape to seal it to the wall.

Step Four: Prep/Paint

Thankfully, prepwork here is minimal. In addition to taping off the shape of your color block with painter’s tape, make sure you tape off any walls, trim, etc. that you don’t want to get paint on. Cover your floors, put your painting pants on, and grab your paint brush.

Dip your brush into your chosen paint and brush the excess off into the can. Start to paint your color block by beginning on the center of the tape and painting inward, toward the direction of the area to be painted. This helps keep the paint from seeping underneath the tape.

At this point, brush or use the roller cover and handle to roll the rest if you have a lot of space. I personally like to brush the whole area so my roller doesn’t absorb so much paint. I always try to get away with as little paint as possible. Do two coats. This is important.

Step Five: Touch Up/Final Reveal

Now’s the time to peel back that tape and reveal those crisp, clean lines. Hopefully. You can use this opportunity to touch up any spots as well. This is barely even a step, but it felt wrong to not include it in a conclusive tutorial.

If you decide to try this, share your results with me! Color blocking is one of my favorite projects because of the minimal cost, time, and effort it takes to make a huge statement.

I’ve included a few before and afters of the color blocking in my house.

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