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Choosing a Paint Style

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 start.

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.

Select Colors


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 difference, too.

  • 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:

  • Monochromatic schemes include various values of the same color. These combinations are subtle, sophisticated, and calming.

  • Complementary colors (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.

  • Analogous color 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.

Practical Considerations

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.

Have Fun

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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