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Making Rooms Appear Large or Intimate Using Color and Texture

When you’re starting a new painting project and beginning to choose colors for your home, you might want to stop and think about how colors can enhance the existing qualities of the rooms in your house. If you want to make small spaces even more intimate or you want to pump up the scale of a public room, it’s helpful to keep a few basic principles about color, tone, and scale in mind and use them to your best advantage. Our color specialists can certainly help you with that. And once you have strong ideas about what you want to do, we will bring your idea to life in its most beautiful, vibrant form through our highly trained and naturally gifted professional painters.

Understanding the Visual Noise of Color and Texture

Perhaps the best place to start is with the number of different colors or textures that you use. As the number of colors and textures increases, the perceived size of the room decreases. We call this “visual noise,” and it has to do with the amount of visual complexity in any given view. When you add additional complexity where shadows are cast and different textures are also visible (an affect that can be achieved through rag painting, where rags are used to apply or remove a glaze to create textured look), the added visual noise will fill the space and make it appear smaller.

An example of a visually complex or “noisy” room, with the majority of wall space covered by diverse and interesting shapes and colors. | Image Attrib.: Flickr user denise carbonell

Really skillful design controls the color, tone, texture, and quantity of visual noise in the room so it has just the right scale.

Shrink or Grow a Space with Room Tone and Color

Many people choose pale colors like whites, light yellows, and greys for the majority of walls in their living space, and there’s a reason for this. Pale colors—those low in saturation (the amount of color present) and light in value (the amount of black present in the makeup of the color)—help offset the restrictiveness of a small space by making distinct, legible shadows that keep the room open and spacious in feeling. A time-tested, classical example of this is using a neutral matte gray or pale blue wall against glossy white moldings and wainscots.

Gray walls with white molding | Image Attrib.: Flickr user emily @ go haus go

On the other hand, darker tones tend to reduce the apparent size of a room. In gracious greeting spaces like foyers and living rooms, it can subtly scale the space down and add a more friendly and domestic look, and the high contrast scheme lends a more modern, more graphic energy to social spaces.

Darker colors can also work well in rooms such as big family rooms or two-story rooms where you want to reduce the scale a bit for a warmer, more cozy feel. And though most people tend to gravitate toward light, airy colors for nurseries, darker or mid-tone colors can make it psychologically easier for a young one to sleep.

Dark browns, grays, or purples can actually be soothing nursery choices. | Photo Attrib.: Flickr user Kelly Sue

If you’re somewhat hesitant to try a darker color—as many are—a smaller space like a powder room that is artificially (but well) lit can be a good test space; so too can a dining room where you want the look to be a bit more formal and yet still comfortable. Darker colors in a dining room will make people feel more relaxed and comfortable, and encourage them to linger at the table.

A cozy, comfortable dark red dining room. | Image Attrib.: Flickr user beaucon

Rich earth tones, too, can emphasize the cozy qualities of an interior, and render it with the implied light of oil lamps and candles. This is a great way to enhance the intimacy and pleasure of a niche or reading space, and the warm colors are flattering to the skin.

Finally, unexpected shapes or patterns can also be used to manipulate the way the eye takes in a room. Vertical stripes, for instance, are often good for adding scale to a space. A series of vertical stripes lining a stairwell can emphasize the height of the space and make the stairwell really soar to the eye.

At Nolan Painting, we take a lot of care in helping you with a full range of services from expert color advice to the best painting services in Southeastern Pennsylvania. A professional job brings out the best in each room of your house, whether you want more grandeur in public spaces or warmth and comfort in everyday living spaces. We offer a free estimate, so fill out our online form. We can’t wait to help you with your next painting project!

 

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