Do's & Don'ts: Color

Color Rules for Small Spaces

When it comes to coloring your apartment, it's definitely okay to go outside the lines.

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True or false: An all-white color palette will make an apartment look larger. False! This is a common misconception of small-space design, along with the idea that less furniture makes an apartment feel larger. Instead, carefully placed furnishings and carefully chosen color can create an inviting space with style way beyond its diminutive size.

The number one color rule for a small space? There are no rules — really. If you want your apartment to look like your favorite Pucci scarf, do your thing. The goal should always be to make your rented space personal and appeal to you. Having said that, the experts who deal with color and interior design all the time do know a thing or two. Here are their tips and tricks.

Choose Sharp Colors
One of the best ways to expand a space is with very clear colors, says designer Mark McCauley, ASID, author of Interior Design for Idiots. "Choose a palette of sharper colors as opposed to duller ones. Sharp as in bright chintzes mixed with colorful plaids or really hot reds and electric blues, yellows and greens (with plenty of air between the pieces). Color combinations with negative space in between will enhance the space's clarity and openness."

Color Unexpected Accents

Bring splashes of color to a radiator, the inside of a bookshelf or a windowsill to bring excitement and depth to a room. If you're lucky enough to have a foyer or hall, paint that a dark color and ease into a lighter shades in the living room, which will make it feel more spacious by comparison.

Create a Focal Wall

While some designers frown on the idea of painting one wall a different or deeper color than the others, it can work wonders in a small space, says designer and actress Libby Langdon, a contributor to HGTV's Small Space, Big Style. "Don't be afraid of bold colors," she says. "Sometimes a darker color on one wall can make it recede, making the space look larger."

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