Apartment Decorating Tips: How to Add Color Without Paint

September 12, 2013 at 9:50 AM

The Problem: You enjoy your apartment and have no desire to move, but you are tired of those plain white walls.

The Solution: While you may not always be able to paint bright colors on the walls in your apartment, you can easily add color and energy to your home today.

Great results come from great planning. When improving any room, you will want to think about color, pattern/texture and room themes/motifs.


How it looks: Color

A Brief Lesson in Color Theory

Warm colors like reds, yellows, oranges and creamy colors are stimulating. They engage the emotions and are best for social rooms. Cool colors like blues, purples, grays and off-white colors are calming. They engage the mind and are best for private rooms. Neutral colors like browns, beiges and mixes where no strong color dominates should be used as a color base for all rooms.

Black (the absence of color) is perceived as a warm color. White (all colors combined) is perceived as a cool color. This means a room with all white walls can feel emotionally cold until it is combined with colored elements from the warm side of the spectrum like reds, yellows and creams.

Use strong color sparingly, as an accent, like a cherry on a sundae. A good rule of thumb is to limit strongly colored elements to no more than 20 percent of a room. Neutral and strong colors are always most effective when they are balanced and working in cooperation with each other.


How it looks: Pattern and texture

Pattern and texture can include design elements like stripes or circles, materials like woodgrain, metal or fabric, and descriptive qualities like smoothness or roughness.

Pattern and texture are used along with color to bring different objects in the room together. Take some time in each room to look for objects that don't seem to visually fit or match their environment. Try to link each object to at least one other object in the room using color, pattern and/or texture. For example, white walls and an orange sofa can be visually linked with the addition of white and orange striped throw pillows. Adding an orange ottoman and a white lamp shade with an orange base will make the room feel even more complete.

What it means: Room themes and motifs

Themes and motifs are all about content, and once you make up your mind, they can make your design decisions much easier. For example, choosing a sports teams like the NFL's Green Bay Packers for your bedroom means you will have a head-start on color choices with their team colors of green and yellow. Add wall art or posters of your favorite players and a few framed game tickets. Bring it all together with a dark green bedspread, green/yellow accent pillows and a matching area rug. Other theme and motif ideas include floral, leaves, quilts, a favorite animal or hobbies like boats/sailing. Design styles like minimal or modern, and time periods like the 1970s can be also be used as themes. 

Getting Started

So you know a little about color theory, pattern and texture, and you have a room theme picked out. How do you take what you know and start improving your home? Regardless of your color choices or theme, it is always a good idea to incorporate live plants, flowers or even fresh fruit to your room. Vibrant window treatments, colorful furniture and furniture slipcovers make an instant difference. Here are a few other common elements you can add or modify to create an exciting, unified space.

* Wall art canvases or framed posters

* Area rugs, or other floor art

* Painted picture frames

* Decorative candles

* Patterned throw pillows and blankets

* Colorful or stained-glass lamps and lampshades

Remember, improving your living space is all about balance, harmony and whatever makes you feel at home. So experiment and have some fun! 


Thanks to Janel Laban and Maxwell Ryan at ApartmentTherapy.com for their excellent article on color.

Original image source

Tags: Interior Design Color Home Decorating Color Theory
Category: Tips

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