Create the perfect space
DID you know that with just a touch of colour, you can perform visual miracles? Small spaces can be expanded, large spaces can be made more intimate, ceilings can be made to look higher or lower, and imperfections can be hidden in plain sight!
All you need is to pick up a paintbrush —and follow these simple guidelines.
Making small spaces look larger
Pale colours tend to recede visually (move away from you), so the lighter the colour you choose for your walls and your floor, the larger your space will appear.
Cool colours such as blues, greens and purples also appear to recede, making small spaces visually appear more open and spacious.
Shiny surfaces can help you expand space even more, which is definitely something to remember when selecting paint sheens.
Tip: Use a semi-gloss sheen to visually expand a small kitchen or bathroom. Use a softer sheen, such as satin or eggshell, in bedrooms (these are especially great for kid’s rooms) and living areas to offer a more subtle finish.
Making large spaces look smaller
Deep, dark colours appear to visually advance (move towards you) so they’re the choice if you need to reduce the sense of space in one, several or all directions. Warm colours such as reds, oranges, and yellows also appear to advance, making large spaces painted in these types of hues appear more warm and cozy. Soft, non-reflective colours also diminish the sense of space, so choose matte sheens for the walls of an over-large room.
Tip: Use deep, warm colours to make a large, lifeless dining area (see Entertaining Décor feature) seem more intimate. Warm colours not only make large rooms appear cosier, but also can help to stimulate the appetite!
Patterns are a wild card
Patterns with a strong directional feel (stripes, for example) can also help to visually expand your space.
Vertical stripes tend to make rooms seem taller, while horizontal stripes make rooms appear longer.
On the other hand, small dense patterns (especially in dark colours) can make a room feel smaller.
Trim, molding and even furniture placed at various heights can affect our perceptions of space.
Maximum space s-t-r-e-t-c-hi-n-g. Furniture kept at the same height level can help make rooms appear more spacious. Tip: Add a few simple level breakers to avoid decorative boredom, such as a tall plant, some wall art, or an attractive floor light.
The same palette trick. To make a small apartment or home seem larger, use the same palette of colours throughout, but vary how you use them.
Tip: If using two different colours for your walls and trim, try repeating the colours in the connecting room, but use the trim colour on the walls, and the wall colour on the trim.
Corridor clipper. Do you have a long, boring corridor that seems never-ending? Paint the far wall in a deep, warm colour and it will magically appear to shorten.
Tip: To give a corridor a more spacious look, paint it with light, cool colours. To make it look even longer, mount a tall mirror at the end, making the space appear to go on forever.
Lowering ceilings painlessly. To lower a high ceiling, paint it a darker colour than the walls.
This generally works even if the colour difference between the two is fairly minimal.
Tip: Try adding a chair rail at waist level around the perimeter of the room, and paint both the rail and the wall below it a darker shade than the wall above.
Or, you can add a picture rail about 18” or so below the ceiling and paint the rail in a darker shade to lead the eye down.
Raising the roof. Got a ceiling that’s too low for comfort?
Paint it a shade or two lighter than the walls.
Tip: Install crown molding around the perimeter of the ceiling, and paint it in a darker colour than the ceiling. It will help to draw the eye upwards.
Hiding things you don’t like
Dark colours are great for disguising things you want to hide — or example, clusters of pipes or metalwork, ducts, vents, and doors or windows that are off-centre, asymmetric, or just plain ugly.
Painting everything in the area in the same deep shade can help to camouflage unattractive features, making everything appear to blend together.
Try adding a chair at waist level.