Liven Up Any Room

By Teresa Cortes

February 27, 2015 5 min read

Have you become tired of staring at boring white walls? Now may be the time to envision a space with bare walls as a blank canvas for a number of creative approaches that can be taken with just paint and wallpaper. In fact, donning a room with a fresh coat of paint or application of wallpaper is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to renovate any room.

If you're willing to take the plunge and introduce some color into your space, the possibilities are limitless. For this reason, choosing which color to paint your walls may prove to be a tough decision. It is recommended to take inspiration from other objects or furnishings in the room, such as artwork, pillows and flooring. Find a unifying color from these items to use as your dominant color. Many interior designers stress the importance of taking your time when trying to decide on the exact shade of your chosen color before painting the entire space. Purchase quart-size samples of your top choices, and paint individual swatches on the wall so that you can get an idea of the color in both artificial and natural light over the course of a few days. This gives you a better idea of what the actual color will look like in your own home.

You may also wish to use wallpaper to achieve a whole new look for a room. You can use similar methods as you would for deciding on paint color when deciding on wallpaper patterns, keeping in mind the effect you are trying to achieve with the room. For example, less busy patterns may be more appropriate for a bedroom, where relaxation is the goal.

You don't have to go completely bold to achieve a fresh, new look with paint or wallpaper. Painting an accent wall allows you to experiment with different colors without the commitment that comes with painting an entire room. J.E. Myers of Home Guides recommends choosing a wall that has something to showcase and therefore, has a real reason to be the accent wall of the room. She explains, "Determine the 'reason' why a wall might be painted with a standout color by asking a friend to enter your room and then quickly tell you which wall attracts her eye first." For example, this could be the wall where a fireplace, bed, or armoire is situated. However, don't let your accent wall become underwhelmed by a mess of items, such as large curtains or several pieces of furniture and d?cor. Especially avoid using wallpaper on walls such as these, as the result can be a too-messy or busy look.

Paint and wallpaper can also be used strategically on furniture to help recreate the look of a room. Painting a piece of furniture in a color that contrasts that of the walls can provide interesting visual stimulation. Jill Connors of This Old House gives a good explanation of how this approach can work successfully: "For example, paint a built-in bookcase or niche a shade of green in a room with blue walls, which will highlight the items on the bookcase or inside the recessed area." Painting or placing wallpaper on shelves or the backing of the shelves of bookcases is another way to make displayed items pop.

There are a number of additional ways that paint or wallpaper can be used to change the feel of a room. For example, you can apply brightly colored paint on furniture in a child's room. Painting individual drawers of a dresser in varied, bright primary colors is an easy way to liven up what should be a fun space. There is also a large variety of stencils available at craft stores that can be used to paint designs on furniture. This can add an interesting dimension to an otherwise plain piece. If you're on a budget but are set on wallpaper, try alternating vertical stripes of wallpaper with vertical stripes of paint. The result can be a visually striking and more affordable alternative to using wallpaper on the entire wall.

Once you have decided on a color or pattern, as well as a design concept for your space, it's time for the physical work. The results should be a whole new space that incorporates color that you love and can live with day to day.

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