5 Color Dilemmas Solved!

Color experts share how to solve palette problems for a bedroom, living room and more.

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It's a great idea to use a piece of art as color inspiration for a room. This is an abstract giclee print by Chin Yuen from guild.com.

Dear HGTV.com,
I have a small bedroom, 10x12, with white trim, doors and light beige carpet. Furniture pieces are large and dark walnut color. What colors would be best for walls, and should all walls be the same color? Should the ceiling remain white? The back wall has a window facing east with no other windows in the room. I have a piece of art that has purples (lavenders/violets) lemon yellow and splashes of limey green so I want a color scheme centered around that.
—In Search of a Bedroom Palette

Dear In Search of a Bedroom Palette,
To maximize the visual space in your bedroom, I recommend you keep your color contrasts to a minimum. That doesn’t mean everything in the room has to be the same color, but rather when you introduce multiple colors keep them level on the contrast scale. For example, a medium blue on one wall, and medium green on all others, could be beautiful. The colors you use don’t have to be all in the same color family—you could use a blue with a violet, or even a violet with a sand color, for example. Just avoid the high contrast of, for example, off-white next to deep blue.

Here’s a question for you: Can you paint your furniture to be lighter? You didn’t say how attached you are to the actual dark walnut color, nor did you specify the quality of the pieces. If they are not valued antiques you might consider lightening them. If not, you will have the large dark furniture dominating the room regardless of the color you paint the walls. Another choice: move the furniture to another room and get smaller, lighter color pieces for this room.

Now, specifically to your questions here are my recommendations:

Wall colors: Try something like a warm, mid-range grayed blue-green. Your ceiling can be a warm off-white. (Benjamin Moore 967 is a beautiful ceiling color that is very compatible with both warm and cool colors in the same room.) Be sure to do the ceiling in a flat paint, and the walls in a washable flat or eggshell sheen. Wall color doesn’t have to exactly "match" the artwork, but do some testing and look for something that will be a good background.

Trim color: Instead of the high-contrast white, which makes the room look smaller, do your trim the same color as the wall it is on but use semi-gloss finish paint. If one wall is blue, do the trim the same color. If three walls are green, do the trim on those walls in that color.
—color consultant Barbara Jacobs, Integral Color and Design

Paint your own furniture>

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