4 Expert Ideas for Transforming a Space Through Color

Learn four genius techniques a professional designer uses to work with color in a space.

There are lots of ways to transform a room, and, sad to say, most will require a lot of time, money, and effort. But often people overlook one of the most simple things you can do—change the color of it!

There are many ways to use color, but I am going to concentrate on how you might use color on the walls, floor and ceiling. However, don't forget that using color in artwork and furniture can also be hugely impactful!

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1. The Nature Model

As far as basic color philosophy, for people starting out I think something that is easy to understand is what I call a “nature" palette. Build your room in the way nature has built hers—that is, start with a dark floor, like the earth, move to a medium color on the wall and a light one on the ceiling. Although it's not as advanced as most versions of color theory, there is still a lot you can do with this simplified model.

For the floor, whether you are using stained wood, carpets or even painting your floors, a deeper color will anchor the room, so try to stay with a rich but more neutral color. The walls can then be almost anything, but I would suggest keeping them lighter than the floor. And once you get to the ceiling, a pale shade like a light white or a really soft pale blue will complete the look.

Now that's the most basic, and safest, approach. If you are looking for some ideas that are a bit more daring, try the next one.

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2. Monochromatic

Paint everything—and I mean floors, walls and ceiling—the same color. I am currently working on a project where we are going to do this, and it's a great way to make your background disappear. In my case, there were a lot of badly-scaled details and other things that I wanted to make invisible. By going monochromatic, I was able to make sure eyes would float around the room and concentrate on more special pieces, as the background is no longer a point of interest.

I like using really light colors (if not just white entirely) when employing this technique. But if you are more daring or want to create a cozier, closed-in feel, go with a strong color. I think forest green would be amazing!

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3. Accent Wall

Let's move on to one strong shot of color. We have all seen accent walls done time and again, and the idea is certainly a sound one. A definitive moment like that can really focus a room. But why an accent wall? I love to use strong color on ceilings, especially one where the furniture arrangement is maybe a bit casual. The thing to remember is, if you have hanging lights in the room, the reflection of those lights from the ceiling will really affect the color of the room. If this is the case, flattering tones like olive, lavender and warm colors are my go-to solutions.

4. Outline of Color

Another less-expected way to transform your room with color is to use an outline of color. Most spaces have base, crown and window trims—try using those spots as the place where you introduce color. Think of your room like a gift and the trim is like the ribbon, so go with something bright and festive. One suggestion is to use deep turquoise blue, magenta or even chocolate brown. Using this technique highlights the shape of your room, so its probably an idea best used on a regular-shaped room (as in, no strange curves or jutting pieces).

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