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Color me happy: Deciding what colors to use around your home

Denise Wilson
Special to The Union
Burnt orange paint behind this wall unit highlights the geometry of the shelving and allows white display pieces to pop.
Submitted Photo |

Color has the remarkable ability to change your environment quicker and less expensively than any other interior design fix. But in addition to deciding what hue to use, you have to decide what to paint. The following areas are ripe for an interesting application of color.

Millwork. Think about going beyond tried-and-true white. If you have interesting trim around doors and windows, a stand-out paint color will highlight this architectural feature.

Black, navy, and other deep colors can be sophisticated and unexpected.

If your millwork is run of the mill (there’s a reason for this expression) or you’re going for a serene, cocooned feeling, paint walls and millwork the same color.

If you choose eggshell for the walls and semi-gloss for the trim, the variation in sheen will create a subtle contrast.

And remember, not all rooms have to be treated identically.

Walls. Art generally looks better on a color other than white. White lamp shades are lost against a white wall but can look striking against a colored wall. If you have open shelving, the wall behind, if painted an eye-catching color, can accentuate the geometry of the shelving as well as highlight what’s on display.

Accent walls. To determine which wall deserves to be the focal point, pretend you’re a visitor in your own home. Enter the room from the direction a guest would. Which wall captures your eye first? That’s probably your accent wall. After painting, you might want to rearrange furniture and art to reinforce the prominence of your new accent wall.

Ceilings. Unlike an accent wall, whatever you do here will subtly — almost subconsciously — further the atmosphere you’re creating. A dark color will bring the ceiling down, fostering a more intimate feel. A bright color can be an airy mood-lifter.

Floors. If you’re not enamored with your hardwood floors, paint them. It doesn’t have to be a solid paint job, either. A checkerboard or diamond pattern in related shades is a possibility, as is a border around the periphery of the room. Let your imagination (and design magazines) guide you.

Small spaces. Powder and utility rooms are ideal spots to experiment with bold jolts of color. Surprisingly, kitchens can provide the same opportunity. Cabinetry takes up most of the wall space leaving only small patches ready for a cheeky color.

Hopefully, this exercise in imagination will strengthen your design muscles to the point you’re ready to tackle the next assignment: choosing colors outside the traditional paint box!

Denise Wilson is owner of jane in Grass Valley and a veteran interior and exterior home designer. She specializes in helping people work with what they already own to create unique, comfortable spaces that are not only beautiful but functional as well.

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