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Color Your Walls

To make a splash of color on your walls, learn these tips on the qualities of basic color groups.

More in Painting

deep purple offers both cool and warm undertones

Many people are afraid to experiment with color when it comes to walls. They stick with the safety of white or neutral shades. Room color doesn't dictate just the decorating scheme: it can also affect your mood and the way that you perceive the room. If you want to make a splash with color in your home, it helps to know a little about the inherent qualities of basic color groups. Here are a few guidelines.

One of the basic ways of dividing color is into the cool spectrum (blues, greens and the like) and warm spectrum (reds, yellows, oranges and related shades). When used in decorating, cool colors tend to recede, while warm colors tend to "jump out at you." For example, in a wallpaper with blue and white stripes, the blue shade tends to recede or fade back in the pattern.

By contrast, a yellow wall paint tends to "pop," but not overly so in this case since this is a pale shade.

Periwinkle blue used as a wall paint in a bathroom is soothing to the eye but highlights the white pedestal sink and molding by offering contrast.

A deep, rich purple wall paint is an interesting alternative, offering both cool and warm undertones. Though purple is a cool shade, the richness of the color creates a warm feeling.

A brick red used in a dining room is ideal since it offers a warm feeling and because deep red has been shown to stimulate the appetite. It's a color that's often used in restaurants, and it reflects an attractive light on food.

Selecting from the myriad of paint colors can be intimidating. One suggestion is to start with an accessory -- such as a throw pillow -- that's particularly pleasing to your eye and use it as a guideline for selecting paint colors from a paint selector.

Pick the colors in the fabric that you particularly like and search for paint samples that match or complement that color.

Sometimes it's difficult to get a "feel" for a paint color from a tiny swatch. Here's a tip for helping you feel more confident about your color selection before making a final decision: Purchase a small amount of the paint you're considering and paint a large piece of posterboard or foamcore with that color. Place the painted board in the room you're thinking of painting and "live" with the color for a few days to decide whether you really like it or not.

If you're going to experiment with colors, you may want to experiment with novel paint techniques as well. Glazing paint offers a distinctive look that allows part of the painted surface to show through the paint color. Apply glazing paint lightly over the surface of another paint color with a dry brush.

Textured sponging rollers and rag rollers create a tactile quality to the painted surface.

Various hand-sponging techniques can be used to create a range of effects.

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