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Today's decorative paint
techniques will transform any room with their intriguing patterns,
tantalizing colors, and rich textures. The following pages show you
how to work this magic yourself. There are fifty techniques that
follow, including faux finishes that mimic everything from stone to
cloth, bold geometric designs, and a variety of wall embellishments.
You can achieve a range of looks with each method simply by varying
the paint colors or applicators.
Although some techniques require special paint tools, many require
only an ordinary paintbrush and roller or common items (for example,
bubble wrap!). Follow the instructions and photos and you will be
successful even if you have no experience with painting. The next
few pages cover types of paint, wall preparation (which is
important), and basic brushwork and rollering to help you get a good
Consider the Decor
A room’s architectural features, the amount of natural light, and
floor covering and furnishings should all be considered when
choosing paint. Less tangible but equally important is the mood you
want to create.
While the techniques shown in this book complement a variety of room
decors, many seem particularly well suited to specific styles. For
example, an iridescent finish, such as textured metallic or pearl,
teamed with sleek furnishings offers a sophisticated, contemporary
look. Techniques that look like natural surfaces --such as stone
blocks, granite, fossil rock, and bamboo create an earthy ambience
well suited to rustic country or Southwestern interiors. Classic
paint techniques that emphasize patterns like diamonds and stripes
are particularly at home with traditionally styled architecture and
furnishings. Burgundy sheen stripes can lend grandeur to the walls
of a formal dining room. Walls painted to look like rich leather
bring classic sophistication to a home office or study.
More subtle techniques produce a back ground for small spaces and
rooms where you want the walls to blend with existing decor.
Geometric designs and wall embellishments produce obvious patterns
more suitable for large spaces, where they complement (rather than
overwhelm) the area.
Paint techniques can draw attention to architectural elements, such
as pillars, niches, alcoves, or built-in shelving, or create a focal
point in an otherwise ordinary room. Using the same or coordinating
paint treatments on walls unifies open concept living spaces.
Besides picking a technique, you have to pick the color. Colors are
extremely powerful. They affect our emotions and energy levels and
even influence our perceptions of space and temperature. Reds,
yellows, and oranges are warm colors. They are cheerful and
uplifting; they energize and stimulate. Warm colors advance walls,
making a large space cozier. Blues, greens, and violets are cool
colors. They are calming and relaxing, making them popular choices
for bedrooms and bathrooms. Cool colors tend to recede visually,
making a small area appear more spacious.
Pure, saturated colors are clear and bright. Muted colors calm and
impart an air of sophistication. These include neutrals, such as
grays, beiges, and tans.
The lightness or darkness of a color (its “value”) makes a big
Light or pastel colors
are soothing and gentle. Dark and bold colors are dramatic.
A mixture of light,
medium, and dark values in a room creates interest by keeping the
eye moving from one area to another.
Combining light and dark
colors intensifies the effect of both colors and creates drama.
Painting the short end walls of a long, narrow room darker than the
long side walls creates the illusion that the room is more square.
Any color appears more
intense next to white. If you want to boost a soft pastel pink in a
girl’s bedroom, for example, paint the woodwork white.
A color wheel is a great tool for developing color combinations.
Here are some basic color schemes to consider for your home:
include various values of the same color. These combinations are
subtle, sophisticated, and calming.
(those that are opposite on the color wheel) increase intensity. For
the best effect use more of one color than the other, allowing one
color to dominate and the other to accent.
combinations are hues that appear side by side on the color wheel
They harmonize naturally.
Triadic schemes include
colors located equal distances apart, such as the three primary
colors (red, blue, and yellow) or the three secondary colors (green,
orange, and purple).
Always try color samples
on the wall first, in both natural and artificial light. Rooms that
receive indirect light benefit from brighter, bolder colors. Direct
sunlight that enters the room from the south can intensify colors
and add a subtle yellow tone. Incandescent light brings out the warm
colors in a room, and fluorescent lights emphasize cool colors.
How much time do you want to spend on your project? Some paint
techniques are quick to finish, while others have several steps that
require drying time. Also, a few decorative paint techniques,
including fresco, Venetian plaster, collage, and fossil rock, result
in raised surfaces that cannot be changed with a simple coat of
paint you will have to replace the plasterboard. Think of them for
small, isolated areas. Most techniques can easily be painted over,
though, which is a reason to be bold and try some thing new.
If this is your first experience with decorative painting, it’s fine
to start small. Expand your paint horizons by introducing surprising
color, design, or texture to one wall. If you are satisfied with the
results, consider taking on a larger decorative paint project next.
Why not add dimensional color and pattern to a narrow hallway, small
front entry space, or dark kitchen When you see the results, you’ll
be looking for more walls to paint. Experiment with paint and add
your own touches. The possibilities are endless!
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