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Decorate Your Walls

Wall Paint and BrushesIn 1991 — six years after we married — Sam finished his PhD in electrical engineering. By that time we had two children. Read that: poor. Also read that: apartment dwellers.

By the time we were done, I vowed never again to have bare, white walls in any home. 18 years later, I have mostly kept that promise. The only white walls we’ve ever had have been in basement laundry rooms or kids bathrooms. One of the first things we do when we move in is to paint every wall in sight — preferably a color on the…well…colorful side.

When we were building our last dream home, I went over to check on the painting project underway. The public portions of the house were all to be painted one of our three main colors: yellow, blue, or green. Each of the seven finished bedrooms were to be finished in the color choice of the occupant-to-be, with each of the six kids choosing utterly unrelated bedroom themes.

As I went up the stairs, I passed one of the subcontractors working on the project. He looked at me, wide-eyed, and said, “I ain’t never seen so many colors in one house in my whole life!”

Ah, yes. The cursed result of living too long in white apartments.

The new house will be no different. Lots of happy color everywhere. It’s inexpensive and easy to change. It changes the whole look of things and can really create a mood.

When you get down to decorating your walls, first think of paint color. Next, look for photos, portraits, paintings, needlework, collectable plates, murals, quilts, etc. There are so many ways to create interest on your walls. Use your imagination!

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Walter December 8, 2009, 2:51 am

    The interior of my house is painted flat white. However, I want to put some color on it. I just don’t know the proper sequence of colors–if there’s such a rule. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith December 8, 2009, 12:17 pm

    Walter, thanks for your comment.

    What do you mean by “proper sequence of colors”? Do you mean how to determine which colors are adjacent to others? Or something else?

    IMO, the main “rule” for your house is whether or not you like it! Being a “woman of color,” I do try to temper that with what is socially acceptable. 🙂

    I suggest looking at magazines, books, and other houses. See what combinations you like and those that give the mood you are looking for. Especially look for patterns in your tastes, meaning look for the color schemes that you are drawn to again and again. And do take advantage of free design services and advice available at some home decor stores. They have lots of great ideas.

    As one example, yellow is my favorite color. I love yellow. It makes me feel good. And I know I can live, long term, with yellow all over everything. Consequently, this will be the third house we’ve built that we’ve used a buttery yellow as the central color. It works much like a neutral and it makes me happy!

    Are you drawn to brights? Lights? Darks? What palettes please you?

  • ileane December 17, 2009, 2:33 pm


    I like using different paint techniques too like sponging, and dragging. Yet I must admit I still have two small walls that are white. I think you’re motivating me to change that.

    Thanks for the colorful post!

    .-= ileane´s last blog ..Top 5 Blog Topics =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 18, 2009, 5:45 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Ileane!

    I have tried a few different techniques in a few not-so-public rooms (kids’ bedroom, kids’ bathrooms, etc.). Some looked better than others. I’m really completely lacking in artistic skills, so I admire those who can create these effects with good results!

    A close friend of mine (who is very talented at decorating) is going to help us decorate the new house. She has done some gorgeous paint work. Maybe she can give me some pointers!

  • Carol Castle December 31, 2009, 1:00 am

    Hello all,
    One of the tricks we have discovered in the past three years of completely remodeling our home was found in a decorating magazine from This Old House. It showed the ceilings a light blue/green color. It is called wavecrest from Behr paint. We have low ceilings and this color added several inches in height, even though the ceiling wasn’t really any taller. Our ceilings are all wavecrest blue, the trim is bright white and the color on the wall is where we go crazy. Because the ceilings and trim are all the same, no matter what colors we use elsewhere in the 5,000 sq foot house, it all matches. It has been a decorator trick that we have really enjoyed…. try it out, get rid of white walls…

  • Alison Moore Smith December 31, 2009, 3:39 am

    Very cool idea, Carol. I tried to look it up on This Old House, but couldn’t find it. (Found other great stuff on the site, however.) Do you happen to remember the issue it was in? I’d love to link to it.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  • FJ March 10, 2010, 9:44 am

    Strong use of color on the walls is good as long as you have good taste and also seek an objective opinion from others with good taste. Otherwise you may end up repainting a room or having to live with something you do not like.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 10, 2010, 3:40 pm

    What constitutes good taste? My thought is in your house, it’s really only your taste that matters. If you like it, go for it. You don’t have to please your neighbors! They can go home. 🙂

  • dave williams May 21, 2011, 5:09 pm

    do you have any pictures of your dream home? I agree with your choice of color: blue, green and yellow. These colors really adds impact to a house.

    davewilliams of Louisville Painting Contractors

  • Yiota August 5, 2011, 2:55 pm

    I agree with you that adding colours in the walls is a great thing and actually creates a perfect mood. However when you get bored of it and want to change it, you need to paint it white in order for the next colour to be an exact match. On the other hand, I too hate white walls!

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