Most people believe they should paint the walls in a dark or windowless room a light color. It seems counter intuitive but just the opposite is true. If there is no natural light, such as in a basement, the best way to treat the walls is to paint them a rich dark color. Without natural light, walls that are painted a light color will simply look lifeless and dingy.
“A light color will never come to life in a dark room but a rich, deep color can make a dim, somber space feel warm and luminous – even though it receives no natural light.” Donald Kaufman
The secret to keep the room from looking like a cave is to use plenty of light or bright colors in the rest of the space. Light furniture, a light carpet, bright artwork and most important, lots and lots of artificial light. Table lamps, floor lamps, and ceiling lights are absolutely essential in a dark windowless room.
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and enjoyed some down time with family and friends (and maybe some shopping). I had a nice relaxing day on Thanksgiving but Friday, Saturday and Sunday I was working like a fiend. You see it all started with this rug.
I won this beautiful leopard print Stanton carpet on Lisa Mende’s blog giveaway. I knew the moment I found out I won that it would be the starting point of my long overdue office makeover. I have been working in a mess of a too small office for way too long. Samples, files and folders were stacked everywhere, my bookcase was an over stuffed mess and all the furniture was old cheap junk that needed to be either tossed or donated.
You know the saying, you throw a pebble into a lake and a tsunami happens in China. Well that is exactly what has gone down. Since my office was just a small room off our “formal” living room and we NEVER use our living room I decided to make both the little office AND the living room my office.
SOOOO all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday I painted…both rooms! Now as you know, I am not afraid of color. In fact, the living room walls up until Friday were a rich dark green. Perfect for sitting in a cozy setting with a book and glass of wine…except it never happened. We are almost always in the family room so taking it over as my office made perfect sense. Since the usage is changing I want the room to feel light, bright and airy. I want the walls to be a clean backdrop for all my colorful samples, design books and artwork. I made the decision to paint the walls in both the small and the large room WHITE.
I will admit it was a scary for me to pick White. In all my years, I have never had White walls; plenty of light neutrals, but never White. I struggled a bit with which White (it had to be a warm White since the room gets a lot of blue/green reflected light from the outside trees) but I did not want a yellowy or creamy white. I ended up choosing a white with a slight red undertone called Marshmallow by Sherwin Williams. I tried their new no VOC Harmony paint and I have to say it went on so smoothly and had absolutely no odor.
Painting over that dark green was dramatic and it didn’t help that my husband walked in half way through telling me he liked the green better.
I will admit I had a moment of doubt mid way through because White by itself isn’t too exciting. I held on to my vision for the rooms though and kept on painting. The two rooms are about 75% painted and here is a sneak peak of the walls (yes, I have a blue ceiling).
(On Sunday when I took this picture it was raining outside so the light was terrible and the walls look blotchy, which they are not).
I am so happy with how it turned out. It is light and bright just as I wanted. I’m on a roll now but I have so much more to do including having window treatments made, wallpapering a focal wall and deciding on storage pieces. My big splurge is a custom walking desk that is currently being made in North Carolina. I hope to have it by Christmas and I will show it off as soon as it arrives.
Once everything is done I will show you the full makeover (including the embarrassing “before” photos). Oh…and just so that you don’t think my new office will be lacking in color, here are a few elements that will be incorporated.
I am so excited to finally have an office I can spread out in and feel inspired and energized by. I just know 2015 is going to be a great year. How about you? Do you have/like white walls? If so, how do you bring in color?
I think for many people the most difficult color to choose is white. So often you think you are picking a “clean white” and you get it up on the wall and it looks green or pink or blue. Well here is my super easy trick for determining the undertone of white.
Take a look at these three different whites.
Linda Holt Photo
When you bring home sample chips from the paint store and you look at them on your wall, can you tell what the undertone is? Can you tell which one is “whiter? Probably not. However, ask the store if you can take a look at the fan deck and simply look down the strip and you will easily see the undertone.
Linda Holt Photo
Now I’m not saying that these whites will go on the wall and look blue or green or orangey/gold (but they could) but notice that the first two are cool whites and the one on the right is a warm white. The bottom line is that most whites have undertones so it’s better to find out before you get it up on your walls and it turns blue or green or yellow.
If you are still uncertain and struggling to find the “perfect white” give me a call!
How about you? How do you choose the perfect white?
I recently received this question from a reader who was painting her family room and wanted to know which wall would make the best accent wall. She was confused as to whether she should pick a solid wall that was a side wall, the fireplace wall, or the wall behind the sofa which had a window and a door.
Regardless of how you feel about accent walls (many designers and decorators see them as dated) they are still very popular here in the north east and quite a few of my color consulting clients ask for them. When choosing an accent wall, remember it will be a focal point in your room, so be sure there is a good reason to draw attention to it. A random “side wall” doesn’t make for a good accent wall just because it’s a solid wall. Also, don’t default to an accent wall just because you don’t have the courage to paint all four walls your accent color, otherwise it will just look like you haven’t finished painting.
So, which wall is best for a painted accent wall? Here are the three things I look for when deciding on an accent wall.
1. A solid wall with no breaks or interruptions. A solid wall behind a sofa or a bed is always a good choice. It is a great place for a pop of bold color that adds visual interest to an otherwise lack luster room.
Linda Holt Photo
2. A symmetrical wall. If you must use a wall with windows or other architectural features it will look best if the wall is symmetrical. A wall with various sized windows or windows and a door is not the best choice.
In the photo above, the accent wall is symmetrical with the two matching windows and sconces. The dark gray also relates to the sofa and draws you visually through the room while adding some interest to what looks to be a long narrow room.
3. The ceiling. Painted ceilings are very on trend right now and since the ceiling is the 5th wall it is a great place to add a pop of color.
image via Apartment Theraphy
Similar to solid walls, a painted ceiling works best if there are clearly defined boundaries. In other words, if you live in open concept house, a bold turquoise ceiling may not work for the whole house. Bed rooms and bath rooms are my rooms of choice for a painted ceiling.
The Novagrats via Apartment Theraphy
This morning I stopped by a client’s home who I had helped with choosing color a few weeks ago. She had recently moved to a beautiful new condo and her main floor was one very long and narrow single room (approx. 60′ x 20′) that was kitchen, living room, dining area.
We decided on an accent wall for the far back wall for two reasons. She wanted to tie in the orange accent from her rug, pillows, fabric and art work and we also wanted to visually shorten the room with the advancing orange wall. Here is the result.
Linda Holt Photo
Here is another view of just the wall
Linda Holt Photo
She told me it is her favorite thing about the condo and just loves walking in and seeing the pop of bright color.
As always, I love feed back…What do you think of accent walls? Do you have an accent wall in your home?
Seems like everyone has a different opinion about the best paint color for a small room. Like I wrote about in this post here, there really is no magic color that will make your small room bigger. However, I was quite amused yesterday when I opened the brand new issue of House Beautiful Magazine. Look what I saw on page 89.
July/August House Beautiful magazine
Look at those two quotes; even the designers disagree! Well I will tell you that I have lived in homes with small rooms. I have painted them light and I have painted them dark. Based on my experience this is what I have learned. It really doesn’t matter what color you paint your small room; light or dark it is still going to be small. You just need to decide based on the usage of the room if it would function and feel best as a small light room or a small dark room. It’s really that simple. A small light room will bounce the light around and feel more airy, while a small dark room will feel more cozy and cocoon like.
I personally like to paint small rooms a lighter color. I have tendencies toward claustrophobia and a small dark room is just not comfortable for me. The one exception is a powder room. I LOVE a dark jewel box like powder room. After all, you are only in it for a few minutes so why not make it feel cozy and/or dramatic.
Whether you opt for light or dark walls the final word iscontrast. The lower the contrast between the wall color, furniture, molding and the ceiling, the less chopped up the room will feel…and hence the bigger the room will feel.
So there you go. Keep the contrast low and your small light room or small dark room will FEEL as spacious as possible.
Low contrast light room
Low contrast dark room.
Hope that helps clear up some confusion. What’s your preference; light or dark small rooms?
Hello again! I am finally back to my computer after almost two weeks of design and blogging related travel. I have so much design and color info to share with you from both Brimfield and Blogfest. I will start with Brimfield and the big color announcement made by Benjamin Moore.
Drum roll please….Benjamin Moore has released a whole new line of paint colors called the Williamsburg Collection.According to Benjamin Moore this new palette is “historic American colors derived from classic American design. Based on original pigments developed more than 250 years ago, Colonial Williamsburg’s curators have re-created this rich, authentic palette.”
The 144 new colors are absolutely beautiful and timeless. Another perk is that since all the colors have similar saturation the colors are meant to blend seamlessly with one another. In other words, you can mix and match these colors in your home and not worry about anything clashing. Of course you still need to get the undertones right so you still may want to hire me!
I am so excited about these new colors and they came at a perfect time as I get ready to repaint to the entire “core” of our house. I have my eye on several of the soft neutrals and plan to paint up sample boards soon. I’ll let you know what I pick.
I also just happen to have an additional Williamsburg fan deck to give away. If you would like to have it simply comment on this post and I will choose a winner next Monday.
What do you think of these new historic colors and do you think you would try them out?
I recently worked with a wonderful client who’s family room that was in some serious need of updating. She had originality decorated it in the 1990’s and everything was right on trend back then; the sponge painted walls, the elaborate (and very expensive) custom window treatments, and the 90’s color pallet. Since her BEFORE and AFTER photos were so dramatic she was gracious enough to give me permission to share her family room transformation with my readers.
This is how her family room looked when I first arrived to give her some help. (Click photo to enlarge)
Family Room Before
Her goal for her new room was to have a very light and bright, coastal inspired family room. Following that vision she had recently purchased two White and Navy checked chairs and a neutral colored sofa as her foundation pieces for the room.
Two new checked chairs
One of the biggest design challenges of the room is that it has peaked angled walls and a very tall slanted ceiling. The current way it was painted with dark walls and a bright white ceiling accented the rooms irregular shape and gave the appearance of a chopped up room. It was certainly not the calm and restful space my client envisioned.
tall angled ceiling
When you have a room like this with slanted ceilings and angled walls there are several ways to paint it as I wrote about HERE. Since my client’s number one goal was to “lighten and brighten” up her space, we wrapped the entire room (walls and ceiling) in the same soft neutral.
By painting the whole room in one light color the room now feels more calming and connected. I also had her flip the furniture so that the sofa was now in the bay window facing the new wall mounted TV and the 2 chairs were at the other end of the room for reading and conversation.
The room now feels like one continuous space and the many angles become much less noticeable. Being in the room is now much more calming and restful.
My client is still working on accessorizing and plans to purchase art work but we are both so happy with how it turned out.
Photographers trick. I pulled the two club chairs up for the photo
Pretty dramatic transformation don’t you agree?
If you would like help choosing color or updating a room in your home, give me a call.