Wall Color Is a Personal Choice
I’m all for variety when it comes to color in interiors. We’re all different and we each respond differently to our surroundings. We have different levels of tolerance for the amount of color, and the level of brightness, we want our walls to surround us with, or envelope us in. This is not surprising.
Some will like subdued palettes: color schemes that create a calm, soothing interior environment.
Some will yearn for color on their walls — soft or bright.
For me, in my rather small space, I have it both ways. My downstairs, with kitchen, dining, and living areas, takes the calm, neutral approach — with some splashes of color. I find it soothing and pleasing. Upstairs — in den, bedroom and bathroom — I get more colorful. I find it fun. And while I’m not one to go all out with wall color, there are those who are braver than I.
In my place I’ve taken the approach of having it both ways. You can too! Of course if you prefer, go all out in all of your rooms. It’s your choice.
But, test the waters first!
If you’ve been living with white walls and you’re ready to take the plunge into color on those walls, you may not be sure how you’ll feel about the change — or the colors. If you’re willing to paint those walls yourself then try out a quart of color on an accent wall. The painting might not be fun, but color on your wall can be a treat.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
- Cool colors visually recede, helping to make a small room seem larger. But, my feeling is that cool colors that are very dark or very intense do not necessarily have this receding effect.
- Warm colors advance, helping to make a large room seem smaller.
- A bright, warm color can liven up a small, dimly lit room that wants to feel intimate, even cozy. This can be a good approach for a library or sitting room. Yellows, yellow-greens, and oranges can be good choices.
- A large room that gets a lot of light can also withstand very colorful walls. By that I don’t mean painting each wall a different color. Chose one color and stick with it, being sure to coordinate with the other elements in the room.
- Dining rooms can be great places for some dramatic color. (See my post “Drama in the Dining Room”.)
- You’re best off trying out a color — or two or three — in small patches, but big enough to get a real feel for the color. If it’s a small accent wall or entry-way wall, I like to just paint the whole wall. Much easier to get the real effect that way and not difficult to repaint.
Thinking Cheerful, Bold Color
Below are some rooms that make a definite commitment to colorful walls — rooms that are not shy about color. Some are bolder than others. But, I can assure you, the level of color in many of these rooms is not for everyone.
Are you craving a room filled with color? Try to imagine yourself in the rooms below:
The walls in this room are painted Benjamin Moore Old Pickup Blue (2054-60), creating a fresh and inviting backdrop for the gallery of artworks on the wall. A light, bright blue, while in the cool color category, can provide a cheerful quality.
In Umbria, Italy, Antonello Radi restored a 16th-century palazzo, employing white on the walls of many of the rooms. The study area, however, is painted a rich earthy-red tone, giving the room a distinctive character.
In Morocco, fashion designer Liza Bruce and artist Nicholas Alvis Vega used a custom plummy-pink wall color in this lively and inviting room. The color plays up the exotic nature of the space and the variety of elements in the room. If you’re a collector of unusual and ethnic furnishings and accessories, think about using a bright wall color as a backdrop.
This room has traditional architectural features: detailed crown molding, molded fireplace, — in fact a Victorian townhouse. But the space was updated by designer Sheila Bridges who chose a cheerful yellow paint color for the walls. The yellow provides a unifying backdrop for the owner’s contemporary art collection. A fun marriage of old and new.
(The previous four images are from Elle Decor.)
In the image below, antique French chairs and canapé (French sofa) are quite at home with walls of bright azure and curtains of pink. Classic and traditional styles live refreshingly with lively wall color. (Image from MyHomeIdeas.)
Here’s what designer Eric Prokesh has to say about the room:
“When painting my living room Azure, I was inspired by the ceiling of the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris. Used incorrectly, it can go flat and lifeless―I tried three different blues to get it just right. This is not the kind of color for the timid. Use this bold hue with similarly strong colors that can stand up to it.”
The walls of the following two rooms sport varying degrees of rich, deep blue. The two spaces benefit from white furnishings and accents, which work to keep the spaces crisp and lively. Such a predominance of dark blue on walls could otherwise become a bit oppressive. Notice that even the floors are white.
Designer Sam Robin creates a Mediterranean look with the textured blue walls in this Miami home. Blue helps keep the space cool in hot Miami weather.
Indigo walls with pretty pink accents and white furniture pieces equals delicate sophistication in this space:
(Find the above two images, and lots of ideas, at MyHomeIdeas.)
Saturated orange in this showcase bedroom has complementary blue accents that balance the visual effect. The neutral browns bring things down to earth. The wall paint color is Benjamin Moore Brilliant Amber (161) (which is actually not so ‘sherbet’ in tone as the photo makes it appear.) (Image from Veranda.)
Wallpaper as the lively wall color.
Designer Tom Scheerer creates a room with a French Provincial look using pink toile de Jouy wallpaper. (Seen in House Beautiful.)
In this bedroom a large patterned wallpaper provides the cheerful citron wall color. (Image from Southern Living at MyHomeIdeas.)
A guest bedroom designed by Healing Barsanti receives enveloping peony pink wall color from the GP&J Baker’s Poppies wallpaper. (Image source: House Beautiful.)
Dining rooms and libraries: great places for a punch of color.
Miles Redd designed this vibrant, eclectically luxurious library with Venetian mirror. (Image from House Beautiful.)
In the casual dining room below, the bold turquoise walls create a room that makes a statement. The open space gives the saturated color room to breath. Repeating the color in the chairs creates balance and unity. (From Cottage Living at MyHomeIdeas.)
Using a deep or saturated color for the back wall of a shelf unit highlights contrasting items on the shelves. In this dining area the built-ins have Benjamin Moore Harbor Side Blue (740) for the background color. (From Coastal Living at MyHomeIdeas.)
Kids can go for lots of color.
Children, as we know, are likely to be at home in a room with bright, saturated wall color.
Shown in House Beautiful, a girl’s room designed by Stephen Shubel is loaded with pink. The wall color is Benjamin Moore Tickled Pink (2002-50).
An oversize paisley print — Samarkand by Peter Dunham — adds sprightly blue to the walls of this girl’s room. Room designer: Windsor Smith. (Image from House Beautiful.)
Intense cerulean blue wall color is repeated in the multicolored striped bedding of the boy’s room below. The brown touches balance the bright colors, serving to tame things down. Geometric patterns create stability. (This image and the next are from MyHomeIdeas.)
The style and the vibrant colors in this kid’s room are Moroccan influenced. The juxtaposition of the two complementary colors creates even greater vibrancy as the colors interact visually.
Are You Ready for Color?
If you think you’re ready to dive into a new experience of color on your walls, the above images and information, it’s hoped, will prepare you with ideas.