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How to Solve 11 Common Decorating Problems with Color and Pattern

Updated on March 12, 2016
chezchazz profile image

Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring an 1880 Victorian.

Artwork created by yours truly with royalty free illustration from
Artwork created by yours truly with royalty free illustration from | Source

Professional Designer's Tricks to Fix 10 plus 1 Common Interior Decorating Problems

This page dicusses 11 common interior decorating problems and teaches you the tricks interior designers use to correct them with pattern and color.

Creating a home decorating magazine-worthy room does not take magic or a lot of money. It is much easier than pulling a rabbit out of a hat and you can do all of these tricks yourself.

Whether you have a long narrow room, low ceilings, furniture you want to feature or make less noticeable, or other problems commonly encountered when decorating a space, we've got some easy-to-learn and DIY slight-of-hand secrets the professionals use to fix such things.

Source

1. Low Ceilings?

Make them seem higher

Vertical Stripes make a ceiling look higher. Try a striped wallpaper on the walls with a light neutral color or the lightest tint of a color in the striped pattern on the ceiling to visually "raise the roof."

Ceiling still seems too low? Paint the baseboard and ceiling moldings, if you have them, the same color as the walls or try a satin or eggshell finish (a soft subtle sheen) in an almost-white on the ceiling with flat paint on the walls.

Conversely, vertical stripes will also make a high ceiling seem even taller and more dramatic.

Live in an Apartment? Can't Wallpaper or Paint Stripes on the Wall?

Did you know you can cover

your walls in fabric by "glueing"

it on with liquid starch?

( and Fabric can be removed easily)

See how at http://chezchazz.hubpages.com/hub/how-to-use-fabric-as-a-wall-covering

Need a Stripe of Another Color?

A Sampling of Stripes for Fool-the-Eye Decorating Magic
A Sampling of Stripes for Fool-the-Eye Decorating Magic | Source

2. Too High a Ceiling? - Want it to look lower?

The photo used above comes from American Federal Period Interior Design and Home Décor. Original courtesy of http://www.state.gov/

Need a ladder to paint your ceiling? Choose a safe, sturdy one.

Source


Yup. The opposite of #1 will do the trick. Darker colors visually lower a ceiling. Or add a horizontal stripe by installing a chair rail around the room in a contrasting color.

Paint the walls below the rail in one color and above it in another. Or use coordinating wallpapers to define the space above and below the rail.

Ceiling still seems too high? Extend the ceiling color down the top 8 to 12 inches of the wall.

3. Large Room lacks style and warmth?

Source

Which do you like better?

See results

Darker shades of warm colors will create a cozier space with a more intimate ambience. Be sure to use flat paint on the walls.

The only thing we changed in this photo is the wall color. There's more that can be done to further improve the room, but we wanted you to see the huge difference that simply changing the wall color makes.

4. Focal point lacks focus?

Source

Draw attention to your fireplace, media center, armoire or other focal point by painting the wall behind it a deeper richer hue or shade than the other walls.

Good Tools Are Essential For Professional Looking Results

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5. Open floor plan lacks unity?


Wide doorways? Flowing spaces? Tie it together and keep it looking cohesive but organized by function by carrying one color or pattern throughout, varying tint, shade, and placement to define areas.

For example, you might use the same "feature" color or pattern on one area's walls, and below a chair rail in another, for bedding or a sofa in another area, and even on a ceiling in another. Go for a coordinated look but don't get too "matchy" as that can be boring.

(continued below photo)

Photo from Decorating Ideas That Work: Creative Design Solutions for Your Home by Heather J. Paper
Photo from Decorating Ideas That Work: Creative Design Solutions for Your Home by Heather J. Paper | Source

For example, in the open floor plan in the photos shown above, the use of similar colors ties the areas together into a cohesive space. Note that the blues do not match. The variety of blue tones blend together and makes the room more interesting. It may not be noticeable in the picture, but the walls in the living area are a cream-on-cream duo-toned stripe, not a solid. The matte finish wallpaper contrasts with the semi-gloss finish of the woodwork and fireplace, which is repeated on the kitchen cabinets.

The kitchen, which is also open off the living/dining area has a blue tiled backsplash and blue granite countertops. The blue floral stripe used for the window treatments in the dining area is also used for the valence in the kitchen windows. The blue is also carried through in the rooms' accessories, from the coffee table flower arrangement and he painting above the mantel to the kitchen accessories such as the light blue enamel cookware and dark blue striped pottery bowl in the kitchen.

© 2012-15 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2012-15 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All Rights Reserved.

6. Room seems too short or too square?

Use a warm color on three walls and a cool color on the fourth. The "cool" wall will appear to recede and the room will look longer.

Shades of red, yellow, and orange are considered "warm" colors while those in blue, violet, and green ranges are "cool" colors.

Adding white to a color creates a tint of that color and makes it cooler, softer and makes more delicate (think pastel). Adding black to a color deepens and darkens it, making it warmer.

Shop The Paint Store for Ridiculously Low Prices on All Your Painting Needs!
Shop The Paint Store for Ridiculously Low Prices on All Your Painting Needs! | Source
Long, narrow room with color correction               © 2012 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC
Long, narrow room with color correction © 2012 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC

7. Long, narrow room?


In a predominantly cool or neutral colored room, paint the farthest narrow wall in a rich warm shade and it will make the room look shorter because it will visually appear closer.

Even using just one shade or tint darker on the narrower walls than on the longer ones will make the room look wider, as done in the example shown here, although the illusion works a lot better in three dimensional space.

8. Room lacks natural light or has no windows?

Photo © 2011-14 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All rights reserved.
Photo © 2011-14 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All rights reserved.

Don't knock a hole in the wall, especially if your space is rented! You can add framed mirrors or a trompe l'oeill window (a poster or mural stick-on that looks like the real thing) but be careful not to make it look tacky, unless you're going for a kitschy look.

As for color, most people would probably be happier with a lighter color on the walls with a soft sheen (that will reflect the light). Flat paint and matte finishes absorb light and, although darker matte finishes can be very dramatic and effective in small spaces, it is harder to pull that off successfully.


Open Up a Windowless Room With Mirrors

Left to right: Uttermost 22″x34″ Paza Oval Mirror with birds, Capitol Lighting Decorative Mirror in Winter Gold, and Import Collection 22-354 Large Arch Mirror.
Left to right: Uttermost 22″x34″ Paza Oval Mirror with birds, Capitol Lighting Decorative Mirror in Winter Gold, and Import Collection 22-354 Large Arch Mirror.

Mirrors add a decorative touch, open up a space, and prevent a small windowless room from feeling closed in. You can find one to go with any style of décor and to fit any budget. The mirrors shown the above (and more) are available at Amazon.com.

Or trompe l'oeil ("fool the eye") accents

Left to right: Brewster Mystic Forest Window Wall Mural, York Wallcoverings Scenic Lighthouse Wall Accent, York Bird Watching Trompe L'Oeil Window Wall Accent Mural, and Brewster Bali Window Wall Mural.
Left to right: Brewster Mystic Forest Window Wall Mural, York Wallcoverings Scenic Lighthouse Wall Accent, York Bird Watching Trompe L'Oeil Window Wall Accent Mural, and Brewster Bali Window Wall Mural.
York Wallcoverings KR2622M Bird Watching Trompe L'Oiel Window Wall Accent, Mural
York Wallcoverings KR2622M Bird Watching Trompe L'Oiel Window Wall Accent, Mural

You can find this faux window, the ones shown above, and additional styles by clicking the amazon button.

 

9. Lackluster Furnishings? - If reupholstery or slipcovers are not options...

Using a color similar to the furniture will make it less visible, but unless handled very skillfully, this can easily be boring and monotonous. However, using bold colors on the wall will distract attention from the furnishings and add style to the room.

Conversely, if you want the furniture or artwork in a room to stand out, keep your walls dressed in more neutral tones that will complement but not detract from the pieces in the room. A few throw pillows that echo the wall color and add some pattern will also help.

© 2012-15 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2012-15 Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC. All Rights Reserved.

10. Architectural Details?


Contrasting colors will make architectural details stand out. If you have stained wood moldings, highlighting them with gold paint or gold leaf will add emphasis. If you prefer to paint the trim in a lighter, whiter, tint, try using a bold color on one or more features, such as a deep red or green door. Or paint part of the trim in a gloss black or color.

Remember: The secret to using any bright color effectively and to keep it from looking garish is to do so in moderation. Do not get carried away. A roomful of brightly colored molding can look harsh and tasteless.

If you do not have "show off" architectural details or have features you would rather not emphasize, stick to one color to hide the flaws or irregularities (in matte finishes only - any sheen will accentuate a flaw) or add interest to draw the eye elsewhere with a bold graphic in a contrasting color applied to or painted on the wall.

Removable Wall Graphics Add Architectural Interest

Vinyl Wall Decal Sticker Column size 108inX29in per column (Pair) JH222B
Vinyl Wall Decal Sticker Column size 108inX29in per column (Pair) JH222B

Available in a range of sizes, wall graphics come in motifs from artistic architectural elements and animals to oversize florals and wild abstract designs. They are also among the most economical ways to add pizazz to a space. Plus they are easy to apply and removable!

 

11. Too Small a Room?

Source

Contrary to popular belief, white or lighter colors in and of themselves do not always make a room look larger, but they do make it look (and feel) colder. You can visually warm and expand a room with color by painting the walls a color similar to the color of your bedding or sofa or other large piece of furniture.

For example, if you have a large brown sofa, the room will look larger if the wall behind it is a deep taupe. The similarity of the colors and shades will trick your eye into thinking the space is bigger. That is, it will not stop the eye as, say, a brown or even a burgundy sofa against a white wall would. This is harder to see in a flat picture but much easier in an actual 3-D space.

For More Interior Decorating Tips

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    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 2 years ago from New York

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

    • profile image

      Ruth Cox 2 years ago

      Thanks for the decorating tips, something I am not very good at. Next I am headed to your fabric wall coverings article, since I rent and cannot easily change the colors of my walls.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It's amazing how some small changes can transform the entire look. I learned a few things from this informative hub!

    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 3 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      Design is a funny thing. Many of principles in interior design can also be used in fashion and graphic design. Stripes can make you seem taller, fatter, or more slender. And certain shades can also make you seem fuller.

    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 3 years ago from New York

      @Craftypicks: We can help with that too! See https://hubpages.com/living/using-color-in-your-ho

      :-)

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 3 years ago from Las Vegas

      My ceilings are at least 30 feet high. I wish they were lower and love your tip about painting them. Now to choose a color.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      You have a real talent for decorating.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      This was really helpful. I'll be painting a wall soon.

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 5 years ago

      The tips seem to be great.

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 5 years ago

      Lovely - as always.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've used several of these solutions throughout the years for decorating. *blessed

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      /very helpful advice and tips,bookmarking this.

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 5 years ago

      just adding some color can take a blah place to an amazing space. Blessed.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      Excellent tips and advice, as usual.

    • NausetViews profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Boston

      Great ideas. It's amazing how changing the paint color can have such a drastic impact on a room.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 5 years ago

      These are great tips Chazz! I'm very visual, so having the "before and after" photos is helpful to someone like me. Thank you!