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Paint-Chip Family Tree

Using paint strip samples, this framed project becomes modern décor.

paint swatch family tree framed against pastel blue wall

Photography: Ashley Poskin

Source: Martha Stewart


This idea comes from our friend Ashley Poskin. "Family trees are a beautiful way to pay tribute to your heritage," she says. "It might seem like a huge undertaking, but once you get started, it's a really enjoyable way to connect with family near and far while learning about your roots. Our family tree is made using paint strip samples that you can find at any paint store for free. Choose colors you love, or meaningful colors for your family."


Before you start, outline your family tree to include as many generations as you like. Count the number of people in each generation, so you know how many colors of each paint strip sample to bring home from the paint shop. You can color coordinate your family tree however you like; we chose to do ours according to generation. Maternal and paternal sides can be the same colors for each generation, or different colors completely—it's totally customizable. We found that five generations stamped with a 1-inch circle punch and arranged in this specific pattern fit perfectly into a 16-by-20-inch frame. If you use larger circles, increase the size of your frame or canvas.


For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of family trees.


  • Paint strip samples or craft paper (Fun Express Paint Chip Paper Circles, $19.49,

  • Circle paper punch (Fiskars 1" Thick Circle Punch, $27,

  • Picture frame (Project 62 Thin Metal Matted Gold Gallery Frame, $30,

  • White foam core (Elmer's White Foam Board, $3 each,

  • Double-sided tape

  • Clear ruler

  •  Craft knife (Martha Stewart Craft Knife, $8.49,

  • Fine tip marker or pen


  1. Using your circle punch, stamp out the correlating number of colored circles for each generation and organize them into color coded piles.

    round paint swatches cut out for family tree
  2. Determine the arrangement of your circles in various patterns, starting with yourself as the middle circle and working your way out towards the edges of the frame. Work within the confines of the mat board to ensure your design fits. (Tip: Use your phone and take pictures of all the different variations before you decide on the final pattern.)

    round paint swatches shaping into family tree
  3. Using a craft knife, cut the foam core to size and position the mat board on top. Measure to find the exact center of the foam core within the mat and place the first circle. Double-sided tape will allow your circles to sit as flat as possible.

    angled view of paint swatch family tree in frame
  4. Using a fine tip marker or pen, carefully print ancestors' names, dates or birth, or any other info you like on the paper circles. This step takes a while because you want to let one side dry so you don't smudge the names.

    names written on round paint swatches for family tree
  5. Draw lines to each family cluster, or leave them blank for a more modern, art-forward look. After the ink is dry, place it into your frame and enjoy for years to come.

    paint swatch family tree framed on wall

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