When the budget doesn’t allow new furniture or even upholstery for the old sofa, color is the answer.
Above: Here it’s paint — readily available and easily affordable — that gives the room it’s new look. Bright yellow walls move right in and help square up the long, narrow space. The bookcase wall was painted white to make the room seem airier and more spacious. The absence of color on this wall makes the bold yellow seem even bolder.
Below: With color voltage like this in a room, you’ll probably want to keep furnishings on the quiet side. In this living room, neutral woven shades at the windows and a rug of natural hemp help keep the strong color from becoming overpowering. To make things light and sunny, upholstery colors are in pale hues; dark furniture woods are held to a minimum, and tables have see-through glass tops.
Below: In a room like this where sunlight streams in much of the day, pale neutrals or pastels from the cool side of the palette make good choices.
Here, the taupe walls are set off by crisp white, used to accent the room’s architecture. The room gets its warmth from the mellow terra-cotta-painted floor. Both old and new furnishings blend smoothly into a subtle shell of color like this one. On the wall, old prints in tones of gray are mounted in simple black frames, keyed to the room’s understated beauty. Plants and flowers provide a nice touch of living color.
Set off furnishings with neutrals
Above: If you want to put your furnishings and collections on center stage, try this decorating trick. Paint your walls a no-color neutral and let them fade quietly into the background.
In this living room, the walls and ceiling were painted an unobtrusive off-white. All the color play comes from the family’s favorite things — books, plants, accessories, and an inexpensive (but beautiful) Belgian cotton area rug.
With the plain walls, curtainless windows, and solid-tone furniture, the rug, accessories, and wall of books are free to create their own patterns. Ceiling-mounted track lights dramatize the colorful book wall at night.
Play one color against white
Right: A basically white room is like an untouched artist’s canvas — you can make the room anything you want. Just pick your favorite color, then play it with gusto against the flood of white.
In this bedroom, the fireworks start with the red-and-white windowpane plaid in fixed panels at the windows. The fabric is stretched over frames made of 1x2s and stapled on the inside. White shades hide behind the upper panels. The same fabric was used to customize the shade of a simple white lamp. Over the bed, a fabric panel in a reverse plaid is attached to the ceiling with cup hooks.