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6 Tips for Painting With Strong Colors

Be bold — add drama and personality to a room with intense paint colors.

In the 1800s, most Americans painted their walls white. Only wealthy people had color in their rooms, because colored paint was very expensive. Today, color is accessible to everyone and it can make a room come alive.  

The main goal of using color is to give a room a new look. Turning away from the neutral palette is a great way to add spirit to a space and give things their own personality. Here are some tips for pulling it off:

1. Deep red walls do more than just add color — they create a mood that brings down the brightness of the surroundings, providing a feeling of being encompassed by the room. They also set neutral furniture off.

2. The trick with working with sunshiny-bright yellow is selecting upholstery and accessories to match the walls. Find a painting or a floral or patterned chintz that combines different bright colors, and use that as a guideline.

3. Not all strong colors are stimulating. Forest-green walls can blend beautifully with mahogany furniture, and the contrasting colors are comfortable because they're found in nature.

4. Dark colors recede. When a room is painted a dark to medium color, the color will actually make the room look larger rather than bringing the walls in, which is a common concern.

5. You don't need to commit to painting the walls intense shades to have a room all about color. Painting the various colors found in furniture behind a wall of bookshelves can create a theatrical backdrop for favorite pieces, for example.

6. When in doubt about a color, don't limit yourself to small color chips. Paint big sheets of cardboard and prop them up in the room in question. This gives you a better idea of what it's going to look like.

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