This Illusion-Inspired Paint Idea Puts a Fun New Twist on a Big Trend

Painted and papered wall arches are one of my favorite decorating trends right now. As someone who has a hard time picking out large, expensive artwork, these arches are a budget-friendly way to create a focal point for any wall, big or small. I don’t own a home yet, so I’m always looking for rental upgrades that add character and style to space, and this project certainly fits the bill there, too.

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Credit: Amanda Archibald

While most painted arches tend to be created in bold colors, as seen in Tracy Ajjour’s sunny, spunky mustard yellow wall below, I just noticed a tweak some DIYers are starting to making to this trend, and it makes the idea feel very fresh again: painting the wall outside — not inside — your arch in a bold color.

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Circular mirror centered in gold painted arch shape in hallway
Credit: Tracy Ajjour

Brand strategist, artist, and AT house tour veteran Mariana Cotlear Vega shared her new-build condo in a recent house tour, and I was super inspired by the way she made her wall arch. Instead of using color for the arch, she coated her entire wall in a deep, moody shade of blue and then let her original white wall color shine through in the arch shape instead.

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Credit: Amanda Archibald

The placement of her arch was also striking. Whereas many arches fall in the middle of blank walls, her tall shape is positioned at the end of the kitchen counter and was painted nearly inches from the ceiling to draw the eye upward and make the whole space seem loftier.

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Credit: Bower

Cotlear Vega says the painted arch wall in the kitchen was one of the first dramatic moves she made in this home, and I’m giving it a solid 10 out of 10. The project was inspired by these archway mirrors that Bower makes. They are trompe l’oeil models, designed to make it look like you’re walking through an actual archway when you stand in front of them no matter where you place them.

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Credit: Amanda Archibald

Originally, she was going to paint the arch so that it appeared to have depth and felt a bit more like an optical illusion but says she reconsidered since this project was simpler. Even still, the location of the arch offers depth, illusion, and the perfect pop of color in this “upcycled minimalish” the 850-square-foot condo, especially when it’s viewed through an arch mirror that she hung opposite of it.

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