Perk Up Any Room with Paint
Interior Design expert Libby Langdon shares her tips and techniques on how to add a fresh new hue in your home.
Libby's design and entertaining ideas are featured in newspapers
and magazines across the nation including Woman's Day,
Budget Decorating, Better Homes and Gardens, and
Glamour. Previously, Libby was an expert commentator on
HGTV's show Small Space, Big Style.
What better way to freshen up the look of a room that with a wonderful new color.
Using a few cans of paint is definitely the quickest, least expensive way to transform a room. If you buy neutral furniture (tan, black, white, or gray), you can easily change your wall color for an entirely new feel without having to go out and purchase new furniture (which costs much more than a few cans of paint!). Colored furniture, such as a red, blue, or green sofa, limits the changes you can make; they may be subtler and less gratifying than freshly painted walls. I'm always fascinated by how many people will buy a green sofa but are petrified to use green paint on their walls. They put all the pressure on their furniture to inject color into their space and make it feel inviting, but by leaving their walls white it's really an uphill battle. The bottom line is that there's more impact and less commitment or financial investment in applying color to your walls.
People overwhelmingly also believe that leaving their walls white makes their space look larger. It doesn't. White walls effectively convey one thing: You are living in a boring, small white space! Darker colors not only add life to a room, but used carefully they can make the walls of a small room recede. So once I have laid out a room, I help my clients to feel comfortable experimenting with colors—often very bold ones—effectively.
Paint changes the feeling of a space through its richness and its hues. Because these qualities shift with available light and the shadows it creates, working with paint takes time and the willingness to take some chances. I wouldn't suggest that someone paint four walls in dark eggplant, but I do encourage people to think outside of the box, shed their fears, and have a little fun. Clearly color appearances change from day to night, so be sure to look at how the color you're thinking of using looks at different times of the day. It's also helpful to think about when you're actually in your space the most: If you're away in an office all day, you'll want to consider how the paint looks primarily at night; if you actually work from home in your small space, think about how the color appears during the day.
If you're not sure where to begin with color, I have some of my favorite colors listed below that I've used over and over again with great success! Another wonderful characteristic about paint is that it makes items you already have look completely different. Paint brings out the detail in your woodwork, artwork, and all of your furnishings. It helps you rethink what you already have … and that's a great place to begin when you're watching what you spend.
Insta-Room: All “New” Furniture with a Can of Paint
You know that hand-me-down wall unit from your parents or that coffee table you found at a yard sale—it's some sort of weird gold oak color that you hate but you can't afford or don't have the time to get something new? I'm giving you permission to PAINT IT! If you don't love it as it is, go ahead and give it an inexpensive facelift. Now I'm not recommending you do this to the table you received as a family heirloom from your grandmother, but for the furniture that's not super sentimental or valuable, I say go for it!
If you have loads of mix-matched pieces of furniture, you can update the look and create a cohesive design by painting it all the same color. The old way of thinking would have required you to spend lots of time sanding the wood before you actually painted it, but now there's a gel solution called Liquid Sandpaper that you simply rub on the wood, let sit for 30 minutes, wipe off, and your surface is ready to paint. This works on kitchen cabinets, a bed frame, shelving units, tables, and most any case goods. Basically, you can paint wood furniture but not upholstery … pull the trigger and paint an old end table, but don't spray paint your sofa.
When painting wood furniture use the same water based latex paint that you'd use for your walls. Apply the paint onto the surface with a roller and then spread the paint with a brush; this will speed up the process and give you more even coverage. You can achieve various design styles depending on the paint color you choose to use:
- Contemporary/ Sleek look – use black paint in a high gloss or semi gloss finish
- Shabby Chic/ Beachy look – use white paint in a satin or semi gloss finish
- Cool Modern Hotel look – use dark black/brown paint in a high gloss finish
- Classic Country look – use white paint in an eggshell finish and after painting gently rub wallpaper on some of the corners and edges to show the wood below for the classic country distressed effect
You'll be surprised the way you can transform your room by not only updating the color on your walls but the color on your furniture!
Perfect Paint Picks for Walls
A perfect pale blue - “Upward” Sherwin-Williams #6239 - this is the most perfect pale, icy blue color. It looks gorgeous mixed with crisp white and soft tan, it’s really beautiful with the washed weathered wood that is so hot right now. This is a fabulous color for a soothing bedroom.
An all time terrific tan – “Universal Khaki” Sherwin-Williams #6150 – this is a wonderful tone of tan that works well in family rooms or living rooms. It’s not too dark but it’s a rich tone that works great in a room where you’ll be spending lots of time. It’s also neutral enough to work with all sorts of patterns and colors that you might have on your furniture; it truly is a “universal” color.
A really great gold – “Convivial Yellow” Sherwin-Williams #6393 – this is a super color for an entry hall or a kitchen, it’s a soft but beautiful yellow and it’s cheery without being too much color. It also works well in a hallway that’s connecting rooms that are painted different colors, it’s a warm inviting color but because it’s not too bright it can still act as a neutral and it can tie other colors together. It looks great paired with white furniture or black furniture.
An aqua color to adore – “Tidewater” Sherwin-Williams #6477 – This is an elegant and soft aqua color, sometimes aqua’s can get too bright and look childish but this shade is beautiful and very easy to live with. I’ve used it with white furniture and mirrored accents for a glamorous bedroom look.
A ravishing Red – “Red Bay” Sherwin-Williams #6321 – This is a stunning, rich red that is bold but actually also soft at the same time. It’s a beautiful color for a dining room, people love to eat in red rooms because red is a very stimulating color, I actually painted my own dining room with this gorgeous color! This red wall color looks beautiful paired with pine wood or oak wood.
A go-to green – “ Grassland” Sherwin-Williams #6163 – This is a pretty soft sage green, it’s rich and subtle and not too overpowering. It’s a great choice for a most rooms in your home and would look great in your dining room, living room or kitchen. This color looks great with all wood finishes and it also looks fresh and modern when paired with white.
A rich, dark chocolate – “Black Bean” Sherwin Williams #6006 – A rich chocolate brown is a wonderful way to add some drama and impact to a room and this is the best chocolate color I’ve used, it’s dense and intense! It’s great to paint one accent wall in a room this color, maybe the wall your bed is on in your bedroom or a wall your sofa or fireplace is on in your living room. Paint just one wall this gorgeous chocolate and paint the other three walls a soft neutral tan or cream, it will add so much spice to your space.
A gorgeous gray – “Essential Gray” Sherwin Williams #6002 – Gray is such a hot hue right now in interior design and this is a soft and elegant gray that would be perfect in a master bedroom or a living room. It really shines when you pair is with white crown molding and trim in a room, it’s a light silvery gray that’s pretty when it’s paired with pale mauve, a rich navy blue or a bright yellow. Gray has become a new neutral and this color is a great way to introduce it into your home.
A rich, classic navy blue – “Naval” Sherwin Williams #6244 – This blue is such a gorgeous color and it adds an air of classic elegance in any room. I’ve used it on one wall in a bedroom before and it immediately added a comfortable and cozy feel. It really pops when it’s paired with crisp white as well as rich stained wood finishes.
A carmelized cream - "Netsuke" Sherwin-Williams #6134 – This is a soft and light, creamy caramel that serves as a perfect complement to an accent wall or for under a chair rail in a dining room. It's warm, inviting and lights up a room.