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10 Uses for Leftover Paint

Why recycle when there’s so much art left in that can?

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My friend Alice was gleaming with triumph after recycling her closetful of old latex paint. Her pride, far beyond the ordinary atta-girl (or boy) we feel after a successful trip to our county recycling center, reflected the enormity of the task she’d unwittingly taken on.
    Following the dictates of her Calvert County recycling center, she bought kitty litter (though sand or an oil-absorbent commercial product would have worked) and stirred it into the paint, achieving the consistency of thick oatmeal. Then she let it dry before hauling it off to the recycling center.
    Anne Arundel County is less demanding: Latex paint is accepted as is at recycling centers, though not curbside. It is not hazardous, but it can leave a sticky mess on employees, equipment and your streets.
    No matter where you live, oil-based paint is classified hazardous and is only accepted during Household Hazardous Waste recycling days.
    I, on the other hand, hoard old paint, imagining all the things I might someday do with it. That someday list is longer than ever now, thanks to the Paint Quality Institute.
    Read on for rainy day projects for your old paint.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

1. Make kitchen items kitschy. It takes only a little leftover paint to impart canisters, coasters or the handles of wooden spoons and spatulas with bright, fun color that can make cooking more joyful.

2. Colorize some flowerpots. Paint planters and flowerpots one solid color, or embellish them with pattern for more panache.

3. Dress up a dresser. Have an old dresser that’s tired-looking? Spice it up with paint. Use different colors on different parts for added visual interest. Do the same with an old stool, table or cabinet.

4. Rejuvenate junk furniture. Check out your attic or your neighbors’ discards. You might find hidden treasure in the form of a unique piece just pining for a fresh coat of paint.

5. Put a stamp on your walls. Add pizzazz to painted walls with a handcrafted patterned border. Fashion a stamp out of an old sponge in the pattern of your choice, then dip it in the leftover paint and dab new color onto the walls.

6. Speak with an accent. Express your home’s individuality by adding accent color to a door, doorway or an entire wall. The unexpected color will make your interior something special.

7. Beautify a built-in. Embellish built-in bookcases, cabinets or a mantelpiece with leftover paint to create striking elements in your décor.

8. Stencil something. Using a homemade or commercial stencil, apply paint to just about anything — a piece of furniture, a wall, even the floor. It can render the ordinary, extraordinary.

9. Make like an artist. Why buy art supplies when you already have a handpicked palette of colors you like? Use them as is, or mix them as needed to create murals or fine art.

10. Frame your artwork. Repaint the frames on your prints, paintings and drawings to give them a fresh appearance. Or, paint a simulated frame right on the wall to draw attention to favorite objects or sculpture.