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August 26, 2011 > Real Rooms For Real People

Real Rooms For Real People

The right color can do wonders to transform a room

Not only can colors add a lot of personality and character to a room, they can also help solve your decorating challenges. The right color can make a large room seem more intimate, a small room seem more spacious and even fool the eye into thinking that a narrow room is wider or that a low ceiling is higher.

If your room is very small, with little natural light and you'd like to make it seem as large as possible, choose a light, cool color and paint everything-walls, ceiling, doors, even trim-in that color. Flooring material should also be in a similar color, for instance a light maple hardwood, or a light-colored carpet. Tile installed on the diagonal will draw your eye into the room and visually make the room seem larger. Minimize contrasts in the room for a spacious feel, so upholstery and window treatments also should be in a similar color. Add interest with textures and tone-on-tone patterns. Add a few sparks of color with artwork and accessories.

Some of us have small rooms, but rather than make them feel spacious, prefer to accentuate their coziness. A recent redesign client of mine described her small home as a "jewel box." She chose rich colors such as caramel for her walls, green for her sofa and chocolate-colored leather for her side chair. With accents of gold and burgundy, her room exuded a warm, welcoming charm.

To make a large room seem smaller, choose darker warm colors, such as the caramel, green, and burgundy mentioned above. To increase the coziness, add a variety of colorful patterns and textures on upholstery, pillows and window treatments. A large area rug with a dark-colored border will also help to bring in the walls and create the appearance of a smaller room.

A monochromatic color scheme in cool, restful colors such as gray-blue or mossy green will create a calm and peaceful feeling in a room. Minimize contrasts in the room by repeating the same color in fabrics and window treatments. On the other hand, a three-color scheme, emphasizing warmer colors and incorporating vibrant patterns in fabric, accessories and art will create a lively, vibrant mood in the space.

To make a long, narrow room seem wider, your objective is to visually extend the walls outward. To do this, paint the two opposite long walls in a light, cool color, and paint the short walls in a darker shade of the same color. Limit the number of patterns and colors in the room. If your aim is to make the long, narrow room seem shorter, use a darker color on the opposite long walls, possibly even a patterned wall covering, and a lighter shade of the same color on the short walls.

To make your ceiling appear higher, paint a border on the ceiling using the wall color. Trim the border in a darker color, and use a lighter color on the ceiling inside the border. In contrast, to bring down a high ceiling, use a darker color than the walls, and paint a border on the walls in the same color. Trim the border in a contrasting color, or use a wallpaper border. One of the easiest ways to change the look and feel of a room is with color.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local Interior Designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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