Monday, May 18, 2015

Paint the Unexpected

One lesson we can all learn from painters of Victorian homes is that even small architectural details come to life when given a different color of paint. What’s nice is that we don’t have to go outdoors to put the idea into practice.

Some home interiors are blessed with exquisite architectural features — fine wainscoting and ornate fireplaces come to mind — that would be greatly enhanced if painted a color different than the walls. But the real beauty of color is that, with a little imagination, it can be used in countless ways to add spice, style, and excitement to otherwise ordinary interiors.

Take a hard look at any room and you’re likely to spot some element that would benefit from a fresh paint color. The trick is to picture different surfaces in different hues.

Almost every room has a door or two. If it’s a paneled door, imagine painting the interior panels a different color than the rest of the door. You could also use two different colors on different panels to create a complex color scheme.

Doors and door openings can be embellished in other ways. Painting the trim is one option, painting a false surround another. Or, you could paint the thin edge of the jamb in a "surprise" color that would be visible only when the door is opened.

Consider the windows. If you live in a modern high-rise with no window trim, but a great view, you could "frame" the view like a piece of art by painting a 6-inch border around the opening.

If you live in an old farmhouse or colonial home with recessed windows, you have other options. For instance, you could paint the walls and windows one color, and the sides of the recessed opening another hue.

Many homes have chair rails or crown moldings, and most people paint them. But here again, you have the opportunity to do the unexpected: adding extra zest to your color scheme by painting one of the thin horizontal molding elements in a different color.

Are there stairs in your home? They present many possibilities for paint. The handrail could be painted one color and the balusters another. Or, the balusters could be painted two or three different colors sequentially; if they are intricately turned, you could use two or more colors on each one of them, just as the painters of Victorian homes do on exterior balusters. Painting the treads is probably unwise, however, since they get so much wear and tear, but you could add color to the risers.

Built-ins can be painted in many imaginative ways. Picture your bookshelves, cupboards, and even the insides of kitchen drawers and cupboards in an unexpected paint color (every time you’d open a door, you’d be in for a visual treat).

Then there are the furnishings in your home. What better way to pull together a color scheme than by painting your furniture in a shade that complements your wall color? And, while you’re at it, why stop at one color? Multi-colored treatments do the same thing for a table or hutch that they do for an entire room: adding layers of visual interest and color complexity to the interior of your home.

You can even "create" furnishings, of sorts, with painted color. As an example, you can paint a section of the wall behind a bed to simulate a headboard. The same technique can be used behind a sofa to create a strong focal point for a room.

You’re expected to paint your walls and ceiling. But with paint, it’s easy and very affordable to do the unexpected when it comes to home decorating. Put your imagination to work and see how creative you can be!