The Stress-Free Way to
Add Color to Your Walls
By Shannon Emmanuel
Looking for the most
impact from a small decorating budget? Or are you tired of the `builder's white'
that is still on your walls since the house was built? Painting walls a color
other than white can be both exciting and daunting, here's how to do it and get
the job done without having an anxiety attack!
Painting Walls with
Color is Addictive
It's true. Just as
many women find that cutting off their long hair releases some hidden desire to
cut it shorter and shorter, painting with color can become addictive and you
will crave color – bolder and more distinctive.
You can take advantage of this common
phenomenon by choosing a softer, more muted color for one room and building your
confidence. Soon you will be making trips back to the paint store with more
confidence and know-how.
The truth is, color does not have to be
dark or jump out at you to have an effect. Selecting tinted whites (not
necessarily pastel) can be a great start. For a bit more drama, choose a tinted
beige or gray. These colors, while neutral (beige or tan for warm looks and gray
for cool) have hundreds of slight variations in the undertones which can mean
more yellow, red, blue or green depending on the light and surroundings.
Some paint stores can provide you a `true
gray' color swatch which will be composed of only black and white. Ask for this
swatch as it may not be discernable in a sea of color swatches. Compare the
swatch to other grays and you will notice that some have hints of lavender, blue
or green that may become even more pronounced when you get home. You do want
some undertone as this is what gives the room a vibrancy that straight gray
could never do, but just be sure it's the tone you want.
Trust Your Instinct
Do not worry that you aren't coming home
with the `perfect' color. There is no single wall color that is or isn't right
for the look of your home. Keeping in mind the look you want – either cool and
airy, or warm and cozy – is quite enough to get started. You now have about a
thousand colors to choose from.
What I've found personally, and friends
have confirmed, is that going with your instinct tends to be the best deciding
factor. If you are not going to take the time to paint large test areas in
your home and view them in different lights (a technique employed by interior
decorators) than choose the color that draws you the most. Our experiences
confirmed that we were most happy when using the color we originally chose from
the swatch or from an object we liked, rather than trying to apply too many
design rules to our decision.
Many people assume that they should go one
or two shades lighter than the color swatch they've chosen assuming the color
will intensify on the walls. I've heard decorators both confirm and deny this
rule. If you really are torn between two or three, then consider buying test
cans of each and trying them out. Otherwise, when choosing color for your own
home, you probably won't go wrong choosing the color you like the most.
If you still can't decide, than try a
program like the one at swatchit:
http://www.affprog.com/swatchit/a-12. Using a photo of your room you can
view different wall colors before making your choice. Lighting and Color
The only design trick you should likely
consider is the lighting coming into your home. Eastern light can wash out
colors, so intense colors work well in this light. Western light
intensifies color, so toned down wall colors may work best unless you want the
full drama. Southern light warms a room while northern light cools.
If you don't want your rooms to look like
an icebox, then you'll wan to be careful using blues and grays in a northern
lighted room. However, using blues and grays with lavender or green undertones
may reduce the effect if that is your chosen color scheme. The same with
Southern light – yellow and red based colors will intensify and cause the room
to sizzle with heat. You may choose green or even use beige with cool
undertones, to reduce the effect and still be using warm colors.
If the outdoors has a lot of trees or
water, you must also anticipate that the green or blue will reflect into the
home and affect your color choice.
How Color Helps
Color is a great way to disguise other
design flaws. Even a deep beige or gray can immediately give your room a pulled
together look that cannot be easily achieved otherwise. If you have white walls,
everything (and I do mean everything) stands out because of the contrast.
If you have a home full of designer
furnishings or antiques then shades of white may be perfect in highlighting your
collection. If, like the rest of us, you are putting together some discount
furniture with a selection of special pieces, then you don't want every piece
showcased. A darker wall removes the contrast and will cause the eye to view the
room as a whole rather than jump from piece to piece. This will also give a
cleaner, less distracting appearance to the room.
Color also sets a mood. As discussed in
reference to lighting, color can give a cool, airy look or a warm, cozy feel. It
also adds your personality to the room, giving visitors an instant impression
about you. What do your walls say about you?
Shannon Emmanuel is a freelance writer and
avid home decorating enthusiast. Find great sources for your decorating projects