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Denise Wilson: Color me happy

Interior designer Penny Morrison once said, “I get such pleasure from being in a pretty environment.”

I believe we all respond emotionally to our surroundings — whether we’re aware of it or not.

Color, specifically what’s on the walls, plays a critical role in how we feel. Unfortunately, the process of selecting paint (and deciding what exactly to paint) can be intimidating.



Below are some common myths you can happily discard, freeing you up to think outside the proverbial paint box.

The paint on the chip will always go darker/lighter on the wall: I’ve heard both — and neither seems universally true. It depends on the color, the amount of natural light in the room and the size of the walls.




The ceiling should be white: If you have a tall ceiling, you can effectively bring the ceiling down by painting it a dark color. This also creates drama.

If you want the feeling of being totally enveloped in a room, paint the entire room, including the ceiling, a single color.

Millwork should be white: In most design magazines, the walls are a color and the millwork is white. Consider painting the millwork the same as the wall color to create a soothing effect (your eye isn’t jarred by contrast).

Another idea is to keep the walls white but paint the millwork and doors a bold color. Black can make a spectacular statement.

Paint an accent wall to bring color into a room: If you really like the color, don’t be afraid to commit — paint all four walls with it. Also keep in mind a bold accent wall might be more jarring than pleasant, especially if the rest of the walls are stark white.

Use two colors from the same strip to ensure a cohesive look: On the paint chip (i.e., up close), the difference between two shades might be apparent but over a large space it can become indistinguishable. Don’t be afraid to mash together two different colors such as green and eggplant or turquoise and yellow. The juxtaposition can be invigorating.

Painting a small room a dark color will make it seem smaller: An adjunct to this is the myth that all rooms in a small house should be the same to make the house feel larger.

Each house and each homeowner requires a unique paint scheme. This can mean the entire house is one color; it can mean each room is different.

All paint companies make essentially the same colors: Absolutely not true. Some paint companies do a wonderful job of discerning trends and creating colors that are sophisticated and pleasing to the eye.

Others seem stuck in a rut and their paint colors feel cheap and dated by comparison.

Final tips

Train your eye to read the underlying colors of a paint chip by asking what color you “see” beneath. For example, beiges and whites commonly have undertones of pink, brown, gray or yellow.

By focusing on the underlying color, you will avoid having a room tinged with a hue you did not anticipate.

It’s only paint. Yes, it’s a pain in the neck to re-do something but getting color right is important. Whatever hue you choose, it should be transformative and inspirational—for both the room and the people who inhabit it.

Denise Wilson is the owner of jane, a gently used furniture store specializing in distinctive, one-of-a-kind pieces. She also enjoys sharing her love of design by providing in-home consultations. Denise can be reached at 530-802-5025.


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