Transform your space by adding some colour to your walls this new year.
House Doctor: Freshen up a room with painted walls
There is nothing like a punch of colour to transform a space - the most dramatic way to change a room is through new paint colours. Whether on a single feature wall or an entire space, a strategically chosen colour can transform a room, making it appear that a total renovation has taken place.
Choosing a colour can seem daunting, but by carefully evaluating existing pieces, current colour and patterns in a room, a paint colour selection can be exciting. For a striking impact, I encourage a selection that complements as well as contrasts with current conditions. As a guide, take samples of dominant fabrics present in the room to the paint shop. These can be cushion or arm covers, leftover fabric or swatches. But before you make your final decision, it's far better to take paint samples home to try out. Keep in mind a shop will be much more brightly lit and use a different source of light than in the home, so colours can appear different.
Once a short-list of colour choices has been made, I suggest purchasing small canisters of mixed paint, then applying 60cmx60cm sample patches on a couple of walls to try them out. Since these will be accurate representations of the colours and how they will appear in your home, they can be viewed at different times during the day, providing a complete image of the final look. As paints come in different finishes, carefully choose the type of finish based on durability and sheen. While different paint manufacturers may have unique descriptions for their paint finishes, there are three basic classifications: flat (matte finish with no sheen and low durability, best for low traffic areas and ceilings); satin (slight sheen with more durability, best for walls); and gloss (high sheen with a lot of reflectivity, very durable and best for high traffic areas requiring frequent cleaning).
When the repainting of an entire room is not practical, highlighting a feature wall is a good alternative. I suggest choosing a wall where a composition of elements can create a bold statement with one or two interesting furniture pieces, decorative items and artwork. Where possible, avoid having the colour on a feature wall end at an outside corner - this creates an awkward transition. If the ideal wall to highlight turns a corner, continue the paint until it can end at an inside transition.
Whether a vivid or subtle colour is used, the unexpected treatment of this surface will have a dramatic impact. And as another year draws to a close, I encourage a start to the next with a freshened-up interior and a bright, new outlook.
Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.