25 ways to decorate with paint
These tips and tricks on how to decorate with paint will breathe new life into a dull, tired home.
Update your home's interior and exterior using a fresh coat of paint to decorate. Bring energy and optimism, create a calming, relaxed atmosphere and renew old furniture using paint colours, finishes and accents .
1 Establish a more intimate space by painting the ceiling a darker colour, creating the illusion of a lower ceiling.
2 Soften an awkwardly angled wall or room by painting it one solid colour.
3 For a modern effect try painting the walls and trim the same colour. Use a flat paint for the walls and a semi-gloss for the trim.
4 Make a tight space seem larger and airier by painting the ceiling a lighter version of the hue painted on the room’s walls or white.
5 Paint your front door a statement colour that stands out from the rest of the house. Try a gorgeous historical blue or a radiant ruby red - not something you see every day.
6 A home's exterior plays a large part in how the world, or at least neighbours and visitors, see you. Revitalize your home with a fresh coat of paint every three to six years.
7 If you want to invigorate your home's exterior without painting the entire exterior, freshen up the trim. White or rich neutrals, depending on the house's exterior colour, can easily update the look of your house.
8 Shutters and porch gables are the perfect place to express a love for colour and decorate with paint.
9 If you really want to set a mood in a room, then use different paint hues to create an energetic or relaxed atmosphere or to warm up or cool down a space.
10 Ash purples, bronzed greens and lacquer reds reflect a feminine classicism, inspired by needlework, appliqués and period furniture, that is back in style.
11 Conjure up images of rural life with wonderfully rustic plum, teal and red clay tones.
12 If you have a lot of dark wood furniture add an exotic, Middle Eastern influence by painting the walls a deep, rich purple or blue.
13 Expressing your individuality in your paint colour choices can result in more unexpected pairings of colour, pattern and design styles.
14 If you’re colour shy, go with all-white walls. The absence of colour is as effective as the presence of colour.
15 Use a variety of neutral shades and have fun mixing several textures in your rooms to keep things interesting.
16 When choosing a bold colour be sure to tie it into the whole scheme of the room.
17 Contemporary paint effects like stencils and colour washes create interest and surprise. Think of these effects as unframed artwork adorning your walls.
18 Use lightly washed stripes to create a sophisticated French country look (especially if you use blue, yellow or white hues). This is a subtle technique that adds texture and sheen to a room.
19 Create a fun mural, like clouds or the night sky, on the ceiling. This is a great way to decorate with paint in a child's room, nursery or family room.
20 Fresco is a wonderful painting technique that can help hide surface imperfections. It gives a soft, mottled look that adds depth and interest to your walls.
21 Add a splash of colour to neutral walls by selecting zones on a wall or ceiling and painting them a different, often contrasting, colour from the main wall. This technique is known as colour blocking.
Accents & accessories
22 Feature a wall at one end of a hallway by painting it a contrasting, dramatic colour; that will serve to visually bring it forward.
23 Give chairs, dressers, drawers, tables and desks a new lease on life with a new colour or coat of paint. You’ll be surprised how quickly that old, ugly chair becomes your new favorite accent piece.
24 Get in touch with you inner Pollock by applying dripped and splattered paint to an article of furniture. Make sure the piece is painted a solid colour (preferably white or black) before you start throwing different paint shade onto it.
25 Make the kitchen pop by bringing in a bold colour. Paint the backsplash or the cabinetry a bright colour that you love (and can live with).
Image by: Donna Griffith | Styling: Christine Hanlon
Hushed tones and plenty of natural light make for a dreamy retreat
When these newlyweds ditched their condo for a house — as so many do — they set their sights upon Toronto’s leafy Summerhill neighbourhood , which they admired for its older homes. The couple found a 2,290-square-foot four-bedroom semi built in the 1930s that fit the bill in terms of age and locale, but it hadn’t been touched since the ’80s.
“It was so dark,” says one of the homeowners, referring to the interior, which was coated in dowdy browns and suffering from tiny rooms and windows, as well as a gloomy kitchen partitioned from the rest of the house. “We needed more light and a large kitchen for my husband, who loves to cook,” she says. Simply put, the house was hardly what you’d call a love nest. So the homeowners enlisted Croma Design’s Ryan Martin and Amy Kent to give their starter house a style transfusion.
“We wanted to create a classically inspired backdrop with clean-lined furnishings and art,” says Amy. The homeowners didn’t want to go too stark or too stuffy, so they settled on a transitional look with bold lashes of black and modern furnishings boasting traditional details. And, of course, they addressed the cramped spaces and lack of light.
To that end, the designers reworked the layout, removing the powder room, relocating the kitchen and expanding the windows at the front and back of the house. “We opened everything up so the light emanating from the new windows and existing skylight would stretch further,” says Ryan.
As for the finer details, near-black accents add striking drama against the palette of soothing greys, blues, browns and whites. “The colours in this home are very subtle, tone-on-tone and easy to live with,” says Amy. “We wanted the house to make an impact as a whole – not for any particular wall or accent to stand out above the rest.”
Whether the homeowners are upstairs lounging in the relaxed media room or downstairs sipping tea in the more formal living area, there is indeed a clear sense of cohesion, which is a hallmark of this home — and what makes it a far cry from its gloomy beginnings.
A dynamic explosion of hexagonal and subway tiles gives the third-floor bathroom edge. The contrasting grout as well as the blackened metal fittings, chair rail and sconces look sharp against the white backdrop.
Watery blues and greys lend a serene painterly feel to the tranquil second-floor family room.
The long and linear print of birch trees (with hand-applied copper leaf) echoes the shape of the low-slung sofa, which is clean-lined to suit the quiet space.
“I loved being able to customize the house to our needs,” says one of the homeowners. “My husband really loves the new kitchen.”
The quirky cactus is our latest decor obsession.
Despite its prickly nature, the cactus boasts a quirky shape and a fresh green hue that has us obsessed.
This Asos blouse has a cute cactus print and looks effortless tucked into high-waisted jeans.
Porcelain cactus diffuser in Cabo Prickly Pear, Anthropologie, $40 US.
Watercolor cactus wall mural, 140" x 108", Anewall, $507.
Cactus greeting cards, Brika, $12 us per set of 5 each.
(Left) Succulent cactus iPhone case, Brika, $24 US. (Right) Cactus iPhone 6/6s case, Sonix. $40 US.
Lidded cactus basket, Zara Home, $50.
Cactus at sunset print, Minted, from $20 US.
Screen-printed Coral Garden Cactus toss cushion cover 16" x 21", Doops Designs on Etsy, $42.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.