The power of paint. Consider an easy make-over.

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEMarch 6, 2014 

ATHOME-STYLEATHOME-PAINT MCT

Want to add a punch of color in an unexpected way? Try adding color to the ceiling — and keeping the walls neutral.

MCT

If you’re looking for some instant decorating gratification, pop open a can of paint. Inside this little silver treasure box is the power to transform a room in a jiff. Dollar-for-dollar, there is no more cost-effective decorating tool, and with a few swipes of a brush in some strategic spots, you can give a room new life. Here are four fabulous spots to unleash the power of paint in your home:

1. PAINT YOUR CEILING

When I was growing up my mom made our kitchen groovy by hanging funky flower power wallpaper on our kitchen ceiling that was emblazoned with avocado and gold daisies. While I’m not suggesting you turn your kitchen ceiling into a ’70s throwback, I do want to plant the idea that your ceiling is an often-overlooked but powerful place to add a jolt of color.

Keeping the walls white calms the room, then — ka-pow! — a colorful ceiling gives it oodles of personality. (Tip for moms whose daughters want to paint their rooms an eye-searing shade of orange, green, pink or blue: compromise by painting the ceiling.)

Painted ceilings don’t have to be covered in high-contrast colors. When I visited Earnest Hemingway’s home in Key West a few years ago, I was agog at the ceilings that were painted robin’s egg blue. They said it was to thwart wasps from building their nests. But I fell in love with the concept as a decorating tool. My kitchen and porch ceilings are both painted a light blue. But I didn’t stop there, because you all know as well as I do that once you start painting things it’s hard to stop. Next I painted the ceiling of my Twilight blue dining room khaki.

2. PAINT YOUR FURNITURE

Are you a DIY fan? Do you spend every free second on Pinterest? Then you know how much fun it is to give tired furniture a brand new look. If you have a vintage or antique piece of furniture that is just not calling your name anymore, give it a new lease on life with a coat of paint.

My friend Anne protected her wooden coffee table with paint so it could weather the elements on her covered patio. Ask the folks at your paint store for recommendations on procedures and products for the best results.

Hate to paint? Buy a piece of painted furniture. And painted furniture doesn’t have to be funky. It also can be so, so sophisticated.

3. PAINT YOUR WALLS

If you want to give a room a complete personality change, cover the walls in a vibrant new color.

Paint also can make a room moody and dramatic. My friend Anne’s dining room is painted a warm, wonderful gray. I like dining rooms that are painted deep colors.

The walls don’t always have to be the star of the show. If your furnishings are the focal point, you can paint your walls a light cream for a warm backdrop.

4. PAINT A DOOR

This is my new thing: Painting doors a deep, rich, shiny black. A few years ago, when I was staying at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, I was swept away by the sophisticated look of the grand piano black guestroom doors against the creamy white trim. I came home and started painting all the doors in my home black.

This high-contrast effect turns doors into focal points. If black isn’t your thing, how about taupe or a muted light green, like you see in many historical homes?

CONFUSED ABOUT COLORS? HERE ARE A FEW POINTERS TO HELP YOU SORT THINGS OUT:

• Consider the existing items in your room. Flooring, rugs, artwork and upholstery will suggest a color direction. Try to pull together these elements in your color choice. If your home is not furnished, make the paint color the last thing you choose; there are thousands of colors to pick from but maybe only one rug that you really love.

• Take your paint samples home. Colors you select in the store aisle will look different under the lighting conditions in your home.

• Don’t examine a paint sample against a white wall. Color is affected by what surrounds it, and putting a sample on a white wall will cause it to appear darker than it really is. This results in many people making a choice that is too light. Put the paint sample against a sofa, wood furniture or flooring for a better perspective.

• Take into account how color flows from room to room. If you have a modern house with an open floor plan, it’s important to use one wall color throughout the main floor. Add accent colors in a few carefully considered areas.

• Stick with white trim in most cases. Try several whites before you make a final selection.

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