paint is the cheapest yet to be used most sensibly tool or way to decorate any home.
Always remember to test out paint colors in large swatches before diving in headfirst. Paint large sample swatches “by the window, next to trim, in the darkest corner, in the lightest corner.” Let them dry, and give them a second coat so you can accurately assess the color.
Experiment with hues:
With a few chips you love in hand, make your way to less-saturated chips. You’ll likely find that a muted version — one that looks almost too muted on a chip — will work best.
Take the time to curate your color palette. Collect magazine pages, brochures, post cards — anything with a color combination that intrigues you. Gather home-related items that catch your eye, such as fabric and wallpaper swatches, flooring samples, and paint chips, or even non-home items, such as natural finds. Take snapshots of things that inspire you. Edit and add to your inspiration board as you work through the decorating process.
Many people look to their closets for inspiration, but here’s a better idea: Raid your accessories. Your handbags, belts, and jewelry are bound to contain more colors that excite you.
Set the Mood
Decide what mood you want the room to embody. Different colors, tones, and saturations will naturally lend themselves to a certain persona. For example, if green is your hue of choice, a soft sage will project serenity and calm, while a seafoam shade will give the room a relaxed, cottage feel. A dark olive green will imbue a classic, reserved look; conversely, a zingy apple green will project trendy vibrancy.
Neutrals: Mix It Up
Neutrals get more exciting when you mix textures and materials. Contrast adds spice to a potentially boring color palette.
Use various shades of a single color to pull a room together. Add different textures such as suede and silk to prevent monotony.
To translate a feel-good color into one that looks good on the wall, ask at the paint store about the color’s light reflectance value (LRV). “The higher the LRV, the more light will bounce around the room. The lower the LRV, the more the color will absorb light, which will make the room seem moody.
Warm up light
White brightens whatever it’s with, but it can also be harsh. Try off-white instead. “When you put a warm white next to a color, it will still look bright and crisp.”
People are nervous to put dark colors in small rooms. But they don’t make the room seem smaller, they just make them darker. Use mercury glass and mirrored lamps to make the room less cavelike.
When you’re spreading color around a room, think about proportion. If you’re using three colors, try a 70/20/10 distribution: Use the lightest color for 70 percent of the room’s decor, the second lightest for 20 percent, and the boldest for 10 percent. For two colors, go with 70/30.
Look Beyond Chips
“Pick colors using objects as your guide — an old celadon teapot, the burnt sienna in a paisley fabric, a blade of grass. It’s so much more lively than paint chips. I always, always, always start with a thing.’
Rule of Three
Follow the rule of three: When you pick a color, use it at least three times in a room. Here, yellow appears in the pillows, on the blanket on the bed, and as an accent color on the nightstand, as well as on the walls.
Keep Hallways Neutral
“Think of hallways as palate cleansers — the sorbet that’s served before diving into the next course. Keeping them neutral allows you to branch into any color in rooms that flow off them.”
Make Accents Pop
As a building block for a color palette, look closely at art and fabric. Pull out the background colors for room accents. The green from the rug is used as the accent color in the pillows for this room.
“Break up a room of matchy-matchy wood furniture with one painted piece. It doesn’t have to be a bold color. I like to combine natural wood tones with black.”
Fresh flowers are a perfect way to add color to any room without a long-term commitment., They also help celebrate the season.
Accessorize with Color
“Everyone thinks of walls when they think of color. But using color in accessories–rugs, pillows, art–makes an amazing impression without going crazy on the walls.”
Include a Neutral Color
Neutral colors act as peacemakers — they help bold colors and patterns get along. The neutral creamy tones of the rug used in this room balance the Kelly green walls, striped drapes, and paisley chair.
Light a Room with Style
Add a colored or patterned shade to a lamp to liven up a room. It’s a quick change that makes a big impact.
Enlarge a Small Room
“In a small room, keep walls the same color as the primary upholstered furniture. The room will seem twice the size.”
No More White Ceilings
“The era of the bright-white ceiling is over,” says Elaine Griffin, an interior designer in New York City. Paint the ceiling a shade lighter than the walls to visually raise it and avoid a jarring stop-start effect. Go a shade darker to bring it down and add coziness.
Wallpaper or paint the inside of a bookcase to set off what’s displayed inside. To make the display more attractive, cover books so they match or coordinate with the new color.
Paint a Disguise
Camouflage a hodgepodge of surfaces — an awkward dormer door, wimpy crown molding, or an ugly chair rail — by painting them the same color as the wall. They’ll fade away. Here, the column is painted in the same color as the wall so they blend together.
Compare and Contrast
To tell if a color has a pinkish, grayish, or greenish cast, look at similar color swatches side by side. It’s all about comparison.
Don’t sweat slight color variations between fabrics and walls. “The best rooms are slightly off — stronger, lighter, softer, just not a spot-on match to a swatch,” says Sasha Emerson, a Los Angeles designer.
Get out the digital camera. It’s amazing how a photo can point out problem spots. Add some colorful accessories, take a photo, and assess the scene.
Rules You Can Break
Ceilings don’t have to be white. Painting the ceiling a color adds interest to the room and brings harmony to the walls and ceiling. Choose a color similar to the walls, or have the wall color mixed a shade or two lighter or darker.
Wallpaper isn’t just for walls. Paper the drawer or door fronts of a painted dresser or cabinet, or use it to decorate a plain headboard. You’ll get a custom-looking piece of furniture with lots of impact.
A small space can handle dark walls. In fact, deep and strong hues can be better in small spaces because a little goes a long way. The bold statement adds personality and impact.
Patterns don’t have to match, they just need to coordinate. Put geometric patterns with florals. Mix modern designs with traditional. The key: Make sure they share a common color.
A charming centerpiece doesn’t require a large vase of flowers and a pair of candlesticks. A collection of interesting objects — an old pewter pitcher, a big bowl with mounded moss and a small crystal sphere, or a gathering of favorite books — is so much more interesting on the dining table. The more unusual the better.
Hang curtains near the ceiling rather than the typical placement just above the window trim. This gives the illusion of height, which makes a small window appear larger or a low ceiling appear higher.
Wall-to-wall carpet doesn’t eliminate the use of rugs. Add an area rug in the bedroom to create an intimate sitting area, just as you would under the dining room table and chairs on a wood floor. Layer multiple rugs of coordinating colors and patterns in different sizes atop one another to make a striking design statement.
Convention says the bedroom should be decorated in soft hues and soothing patterns to encourage sleep and relaxation. But if you’re drawn to bolder colors and patterns, unwind in a bedroom surrounded by what you love. Warm lamplight tones down bright colors at night, while the same hues energize in the morning. Busy pattern offers the same morning pick-me-up and can be balanced by using it in just certain areas, such as on a single wall or draperies, but not bedding.
Just because furniture is sold as a set doesn’t mean you have to use it that way. Mix a new dining table with a medley of refinished antique chairs. Buy the new sofa you love, but have your favorite chairs re-covered instead of settling on the matching settee. Rearrange the furniture you have, using pieces from different collections in different rooms.
You can put oversize furniture in small spaces. Too much small furniture in a small room can make the space feel cluttered and full. Instead, buy fewer, larger pieces to make a small space feel roomier.
Wall art doesn’t need a famous signature or even have to be purchased. Personalize your space by hanging a puzzle you put together or framing a map showing your favorite destination. Dig out family treasures — old pictures or your grandmother’s platters — to appreciate instead of collect dust. For a creative twist, hang dinnerware in open frames.
Wallpaper works on the ceiling. In a room with lots of pattern, a white ceiling stands out like sore thumb. Use wallpaper on the ceiling to tie the space together.
Not every piece of furniture has to be what is expected. An old grain cart discovered at a flea market makes a whimsical coffee table that keeps this room casual. Not only is it movable, the low height is easy for stacking books, and it could hold a tall flower arrangement that might sit too high on a standard table.
While stained-wood and white-painted kitchen cabinets are the norm, it doesn’t mean you have to stick with tradition. In a room ruled by function and sometimes lacking in decorating opportunity, painted cabinets can add interest and color. Use a solid, bright finish for a contemporary space, or distress door and drawer edges for a more casual look.
A monochromic color scheme isn’t dull and undecorated. On the contrary, it can make a stunning design statement. In this bedroom, similar shades of pinks and reds make a smooth transition from the walls to the windows to the bed, creating a cohesively decorated space. Use contrasting trim, such as white molding, to define the perimeter of the room.
Draperies aren’t just for windows. Use window treatments to add interest to a large, plain span of wall. Hang draperies in a large doorway to make it more intimate. Use a curtain panel in place of a closet door.
A room doesn’t have to have just one purpose. Make the most of the space you have by sharing. A less-used guest bedroom with a pullout bed is the perfect place for a home office contained in a storage armoire. The family room media entertainment space can have a playroom corner.