Home Hacks

3 Ways to Use Paint to Make Any Room Feel Bigger

July 21, 2016

One of the great myths of home design is that painting a room a color will make it feel smaller than if you paint it white. But consider that the sky, splotched with prune-colored clouds and grey rain during a storm, looks no less vast (and maybe even grander) than on the clearest day of spring. Color can create depth, incite emotion: Greens are serene, blues are calm, blushing hues are warm and welcoming.

And if your homestead has particularly small rooms, there are some tricks you can rely on to ensure that every space feels as open as possible. Here are three ways to make a colorful room feel much larger, simply by using paint.

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1. Paint the molding the same color as the walls.

If your place has crown molding at the ceiling and a baseboard at the foot of the walls, don't feel like you have to leave those bookends white—paint them, too! Specifically, paint them the same color you paint the walls and the whole surface will look elongated. The architectural shapes they create will still be pronounced, adding "character," but your eye won't stop before it reaches the ceiling or the floor.

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The same goes for other kinds of woodwork: If you have wainscotting, door or window jambs, panel molding, or a wooden mantel, consider painting them the same color as the walls, too.

2. Use a ceiling paint that is related to the wall color.

Whether you opt for a white ceiling with cool undertones (if the walls are blue-toned) or warm ones (if the walls are yellow or red), paint it. "It’s such an overlooked move, but for me a room isn’t finished until the ceiling has been considered," says decorator Chloe Redmond Warner.

You can find white paints with all kinds of undertones, so take your wall paint swatch to the paint store and do a little in-person research before selecting one for the ceiling. Alternatively, you can paint the ceiling a color, which is always fun—just coordinate with the walls in this case, too (light blue is particularly sky-like and expansive on a ceiling).

Keeping the wall and ceiling colors in the same paint family will make you, as the Farrow & Ball website puts it, "less aware of where the walls end, and the ceiling begins."

3. Don't forget that very light colors count as colors, too!

If you're already working with richly-colored hardwood floors, or if you love the whole white-walled movement but wish you were brave enough to try a color, turn to a nearly-white (but not white) paint.

When the sun hits a faintly pink, coral, ochre, lilac, sage, or otherwise barely-hued wall, you'll see a flash of color—but otherwise you'll simply see lots of airy breathing room.

What are your favorite wall colors? Right now, I'm loving everything deep sea blue-green.

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It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

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  • Nina Amjadi
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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Nina A. July 21, 2016
Great tips! Love this article!
PHIL July 21, 2016
Unless it' a bathroom or small room I usually like to use white. It's like a blank canvas and gives you the flexibility to introduce color with furniture or accessories.