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How to Add Color to Small Spaces

Use energetic colors to add style quality to any small room.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®


Connecting Colors

Don’t believe the urban legend that says when you use color in a small room it makes the room look smaller. This belief has been blown way out of proportion. Yet, amazingly enough, it continues to be the greatest reason that prevents people from using color in small spaces. It’s important to rememeber that color is one of the best ways to define and anchor a room. Here are five ways to use color in small spaces.

Eliminate lines between two rooms by using one color theme through both.

Sharing a color between multiple rooms that can be viewed from a given point will add balance, for example, a living room or kitchen that opens into the dining room, or a bedroom with a small office attached. If you have a favorite color combination, don’t be afraid to join those as well.

How to Add Color to Small Spaces

Walls painted taupe visually
connect the dining area to the adjoining living room.


Add Depth With Solid Colors

You’ll see how to layer colors to add depth by looking at this tiny New York City apartment kitchen. Originally all white, this kitchen was a bland, shapeless space; the lack of color visually flattens the room.

By painting the living room wall blue and the door opening and walls red, it adds depth. The white cabinets and the white refrigerator in the corner add a great horizontal line that keeps the walls visually separated so the room doesn't look smaller than it is.

How to Add Color to Small Spaces

White punctuates this space
perfectly, making the bold colors
even more vibrant.


Layers of Color Also Add Depth

The painting technique of layering on glazes of color gives a wall depth. Separating the wall into blocks of color is another trick to adding visual depth.

It's an especially useful technique when you've got a large wall to cover; a single color -- any color -- could make the wall look flat and massive, or patterned wallpaper would just overpower the room. The gentle tones of color layered here complement the furnishings and visually recede so you see the whole room, not just the wall.

How to Add Color to Small Spaces

Accent for Emphasis

If you'd prefer to keep the wall and upholstery colors neutral, choose an accent color and layer it in the room. This homeowner's passion for pink shows up in cushions on the chair, the large painted panels of artwork, and the ottoman cover.

Used judiciously like this, even the brightest colors won't overwhelm quiet neutrals. One last piece of advice: In most situations, use the chosen color in accents around the room, like this, rather than concentrating it one place.

How to Add Color to Small Spaces

Vary Neutral Tones

If you want an all-white room -- in a bathroom, for example -- just add a little variation to neutrals to improve the look.

A tone-on-tone stripe is a simple, effective way to add visual interest. The room still has the quietness of a neutral but it's accented by a change of tone that gives the needed sense of depth without adding a chaotic element.

How to Add Color to Small Spaces

Soft taupe stripes warm the white
fixtures and add depth to this
small bathroom.


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