The Power of Paint


The Power of Paint

Never underestimate what a little bit of paint—and your imagination—can do for a space. It can make a dreary room upbeat, a small room live large and a cavernous room cozy. And if you’re on a budget, paint is a great way to update your space without spending a lot of money.

Painting a room usually involves four walls and white trim, right? This time, think outside the box. There are so many ways paint can add impact. Check out some of our ideas for inspiration.

Create architectural interest

If you love a color, but can’t commit to painting an entire room with it, do try this at home. Our lavender treatment adds visual texture to a blank wall. The white base coat literally frames the focal color, so it’s a fun way to highlight a piece of art or create a gallery wall. (See our painter’s tape tip below.)

The Power of Paint

Go monochromatic

Wrap yourself in coziness with a rich color on your walls, such as an espresso brown or a deep blue. Go ahead, paint it all the same color, even the trim. Painting over the wall details, such as window trim, chair railings and decorative molding creates a clean composition that doesn’t distract the eye. The walls become a monochromatic backdrop for art, furniture and other décor in the room.

The Power of Paint

Paint a pattern

Break up the monotony of a plain wall with sophisticated stripes. The designers at the Southern Living Idea House went one step further and painted a tone-on-tone buffalo check pattern. Just remember, vertical stripes create a sense of height while horizontal stripes stretch out a wall, causing the whole room to appear larger. (See our painter’s tape tip below.)

Shrink a room

High ceilings? Paint the ceiling a darker shade than the walls to visually lower the ceiling and create a cozier, more intimate environment. We tried this trick on the 9-foot high ceilings of the Bosch Model Home to great results. To lower those ceilings even more, you can bring the ceiling paint down on the walls no more than one foot. This look works especially well if you’re using a high-contrast color.

Create a sense of depth

Paint an alcove, the back of a bookcase, kitchen cabinet backs, an open closet or a small pass-through space such as a hallway a darker (or brighter) shade than the surrounding color for visual punch. The extra color will add a sense of depth while highlighting accents in the room.

Painter’s tape tip: If you’re painting lines on a wall, you need to ensure they’re even and straight using measuring tape, a level and a pencil to lightly mark off the lines. Then you’re ready to mask off the lines with the tape. To ensure perfectly crisp lines, you can brush a light coat of clear matte medium acrylic (available at art supply stores) or your base coat color over the lines first to fill in the areas where it might bleed through. Remove the tape as soon as the paint is set. And in case you’re wondering how we got those curved inset corners on the lavender focal wall, we used paper plates!

For even more ideas and inspiration, check out our Paint Ideas board on Pinterest.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.



  1. Reply


    September 9, 2014

    Hello, what color was used in the September catalog on page 19?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      March 25, 2015

      Hi Jessica,
      The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s York Gray #CW-45.
      Hope that helps!
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply


    February 7, 2013

    What is the color on page 2-3 in the Feb 2013 catalog? My painter is coming in two days!

    • Reply


      February 8, 2013

      That is Benjamin Moore #1239 Rural Earth.

  3. Reply


    November 23, 2012

    What is the name of the paint color on pg 8 & 9 of the March 2012 catalog?