Color Stories

You know that space? The one that’s always bothered you? The one you want to “fix” every time you enter? If you think it’s a problem only a contractor, heavy equipment and thousands of dollars can solve, you’re selling the power of color short. You’d be amazed what a gallon of paint can do.

Every home has its shortcomings—bedrooms that are too small and have awkward, slanted ceilings, for instance—but with a little creativity and some DIY know-how, you can make the most of what you’ve got. It’s all about choosing the right combination of colors.


Whether it’s a cramped home office or a master bedroom that could use a little more intimacy, the right color can transform a not-so-great space into something special. “Working with color is a great way to infuse a room with multiple characteristics,” says Bayport-based color expert and interior designer Mary Nolte of Mary Nolte Designs/Kaleidoscope Color Consulting. “Color evokes feelings and the colors that create those feelings are personal. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people declare they either love or hate a color simply because their mom used it in their childhood home.”

imageDavid Bromstad, host of HGTV’s Color Splash, agrees that the colors we choose in our homes are very personal. “Everyone’s example of something romantic or interesting varies,” he says. “Some people love a neutral color palette with high contrast, while others do not. We each have our own ideas.”

There are a few ground rules to follow when using color to problem solve. For example, to create depth or to make rooms appear bigger, choose a variety of light tones from a similar color group. Then for visual interest and intimacy, add accessories with pops of color and mix in different textures and fabrics to add warmth. “Keeping the majority of the room neutral allows you to add vibrant colors and still have a warm and inviting feeling,” Bromstad says.

Nolte agrees and has noticed that young families are leaning toward grays and taupes with splashes of intense color accessories. She’s also getting more requests for walls that have an ombre effect; different hues that vary from light to dark and help achieve a cozy feeling are trending.

Paint is one of the easiest ways to transform your room and there are a lot of interesting techniques like ombre to help you explore different shades. More familiar techniques like painting an accent wall, trying your hand at stripes or faux finishes are a few of the easier options. “Stripes are great fun and not difficult to create,” Nolte says. “However, my favorite and even simpler way of thinking just a little out of the box is to paint the ceiling a color. I often like to delineate the ceiling paint color with a molding in line with the top of the door and windows. It makes the room feel finished and offers visual interest.”

And while paint is usually the preferred way to introduce color to walls, wallpaper in a variety of patterns helps with not only color but also adds texture to give a new perspective. “I have really been enjoying all the new and exciting wallpaper choices available,” Bromstad says. “Wallpaper is back and there are some gorgeous textured coverings that are sure to make a statement in any room. If you are afraid of the wallpaper commitment, there are several companies that offer peel-and-stick-murals and wallpaper.” Adding a patterned or textured wallpaper in the same color(s) of the room, whether it be in a stripe, border or half-wall, is another way to incorporate color to create a focal point that works with a space instead of trying to “fix” it. In other words, if you can’t change a room’s bones, celebrate the idiosyncrasies with color to create a space that is as unique as you are.

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.