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Paint like an Interior Designer

Paint like an Interior Designer

Colour is without doubt one of the strongest Design tools available to both Designer or Homeowner. The boldness, subtlety, absence or way in which colour is used can literally create any Design effect, Style or Theme required for a space. When approaching how to “use colour”, it is entirely a personal preference and comes down to your desired feel and style for your space. This is why EVERY Interior Designer knows that Paint is the singular most transformative tool available for your home.

The magic of Paint is immediate, whether highlighting the architectural detail of a room, emphasizing its size or concealing its diminutive portions, accenting furniture or simply adding a splash of freshness, sexiness, luxury or sophistication. The 1990’s/2000’s all beige limitations left spaces feeling unfinished, “unlived” and most significantly, unloved.

When going to select Paint colours the trick to making sure a colour will actually work in your space is to test it first. Buy tester pots and splash up a 2′ by 2′ square on the various walls you are going to paint to see how the colour is effected by the light in your space and how the various other elements react to and with the colour. How light filters into your room, whether scorching sun or entirely artificial in source, will effect the colour and you need to see this first hand. Throw away old tales of dark colours shrinking a room; this is entirely false and in fact a rich or saturated colour adds complexity, warmth and richness and actually makes walls recede. This is why in smaller rooms try painting your focal wall a rich colour, then painting the other walls your flow colour (the overall colour used throughout your home for walls to give continuity), this is known as Colour Blocking.

Often when painting we use a colour on the walls and white gloss on woodwork, the same white that we use on the ceiling. This is a HUGE mistake as it focuses all your attention on your ceiling, making it your focal point. Ceilings should always be a creamier less white tone than your trim (try Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White in ultra flat latex) or try using an ultra pale version of your wall colour as well. By choosing a soft creamier white than your trim your ceiling will actually recede and give the allusion your ceilings are much taller than they actually are, just make sure to use an ultra flat paint. A Designer trick to create light, space and sharpness is to use a pale fresh colour on the walls and a dark tone on woodwork (such as Francesca by Martha Stewart Paint, a bold and striking soft black). This gives a space a more ‘Designer’ feel. The use of a dark colour on skirting boards not only makes the walls appear lighter in contrast, it gives a space a more ‘designer’ feel while also creating a strong contemporary look making everything above it feel lighter by contrast. Speaking of trim, try using Benjamin Moore’s Oxford White to give a sharp, fresh and tailored look to your home.

If your hesitant about which room to begin introducing colour try your Dining Room first. Rich, dark or saturated colours work beautifully in Dining Rooms as they intensify their sense of drama and increase their intimate atmosphere. Colours such as Eating Room Red by Farrow & Ball or Haitian Flower by Behr work especially well to create intrigue while also showcasing architectural features (mouldings, fireplaces or chandeliers). As we often use our Dining room at night the rich tones are intensified by the light and take on a jewel like depth. Another room/area with walls just begging for a rich lick of colour is your Entrance hall thereby adding a touch of decadence. Entrance halls are by nature an area where you don’t spend a lot of time, it’s a great opportunity to be brave and use a really exciting colour. For Designer impact try using a high shine Full Gloss on the walls. Colours such as Coffee, Lafayette or Pink Sky (all by Ralph Lauren) work beautifully when mixed with lots of white woodwork and mouldings in traditional spaces or colour blocked on one wall in highgloss in modern spaces with framed artwork grouped on it.

Remember to think about how and why you use each space in your home and then imagine how you would LIKE to use the space and what inspires you and would either add zest or zen to your life, and then boldly make the decision to paint. Add a real Designer feeling by painting a feature wall a rich dramatic colour and then accent it with pale creamy tones, paint a dark or bright colour on a wall featuring framed art or objects to make them really pop and give a sense of drama, try painting a study wall in various width stripes of contrasting or complimentary colours (make sure to vary the thicknesses to make them feel organic) or to hide a large coloured sofa paint the wall behind it in the same colour and then accent it with rich pale silk cushions to make the room feel less cluttered and heavy. Life is not a Dress Rehearsal, live it to its fullest and set the stage for the life you desire. In other words, get Painting.