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How A Little Paint Can Dramatically Change a Room

By NYIAD Interior Design Mentor on January 13, 2015

NYIAD is an online interior design school, and because we are, we often write fun and useful tips for interior designers. Please enjoy!

Who isn’t interested in interior design these days? Popular television series show homeowners and professional decorators teaming up to transform a home, room by room.

The New York Institute of Art and Design’s Interior Design Course covers the topics that will help you become an interior designer—but the course also covers budget-minded alternatives for room transformation. Many of these tips and tricks are standard fare in the Do-It-Yourself community, and they provide alternatives to expensive decorating. The design industry calls this lower-cost option redesigning. One of the biggest components of the redesign process is paint, which adds color, mood, texture, and a fresher feel to any room. For designers and clients on a budget, painting is inexpensive, and it provides the biggest décor impact. Let’s look at some painting tips that will help you redesign any room.

  • Analyze the current color scheme in the room and ask yourself why it should be changed. Is it too boring, too sedate, too tired, or too bright and jarring? Select a paint color for the walls that will reinforce the new color scheme, keeping in mind the colors already found in the room’s upholstery, draperies, floor coverings, and accessories. Perhaps there’s a color found in many of the patterns in the soft goods that you’d like to bring out and make more dominant on the walls.
  • Complimentary and contrasting colors can be used to highlight the backs of built-in bookshelves, add color to an accent wall, or freshen up the inside of a closet or pantry.
  • If you’d like to add more than a fresh color to the walls, consider room decals, which could add pattern and texture, too. There are many excellent decal designs available, and most are inexpensive, quick to apply, and easy to remove from a wall without damaging the paint job. Think of the wonderful use of decals to make a child’s bedroom turn from blah to magical.
  • Try a specialty painting technique to add texture and interest to the walls. These techniques include rag rolling, stenciling, sponging, and antiquing. We recommend that professionals apply these special techniques. There’s nothing that screams out “amateur” worse than a botched specialty paint job! If you’re using stenciling, find an appropriate pattern and paint a decorative border around the top molding of the room. Painted stencils can be subtle and rich, adding a layer of visual interest to the walls.
  • Doors and moldings should be painted using a glossier paint finish than the walls themselves. This makes them durable and easy to clean. To make the room seem larger, use the same color and tone of paint for the walls, doors, and trim. On the ceiling, you can use matte finish paint like on the walls, in a tone or two lighter than the walls. Avoid white ceilings; it’s lazy decorating, and you should always consider the ceiling to be the fifth wall you should paint! But again, make it a bit lighter in tone so it doesn’t put the same visual weight overhead.
  • As shown in this photo, painting a piece of furniture can help freshen up an old table, chair, or dresser and tie it into the room’s new color scheme.
  • Finally, don’t forget the floor! If you have inexpensive pine or other wood floorboards and want to jazz them up, strip them and repaint them with a solid or stenciled pattern. Use a durable product like marine or deck paint. Floors look dazzling when painted white, by the way. Add a colorful area rug and you’ve got an elegant look for little money.

With practice, you can redesign any room in your home or help out friends, neighbors, and clients who would like a new look on a tight budget.

Want to learn more? NYIAD can teach you how to become an interior designer. Request a free course catalog today.