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April 2005 Designing Dilemma's
Red accents on soft, neutral walls give a decorative "pop" without overpowering the room.

Washington DC Interior Designer Debbie Wiener
Break-up and separate continuous space with paint colors.
Designing Dilemma April 2005

Wall Colors for Small Homes

Dear Designing Solutions: I have a small-size home with 8 feet ceilings. My living room and dining room are L-shaped. I have taupe/cream damask living room furniture. My area rug in the living room has a dominate color of burgundy. The room has a traditional elegant feel. My dilemma is that I want to paint the walls a nice warm color. Can you please give me some suggestions to look at. I also want to paint the dining room- one wall with an rich accent color. Desperate for a solution. Thank you, Emily

Dear Emily: Because the rooms are not large, stick to the color scheme you've already used- especially since you like the overall effect.

On the living room walls, use a warm taupe color with super white, semi-gloss trim. The bright white will give a strong contrast to the warm wall color. Because taupe can often look gray and cold, I like Benjamin Moore's "Shaker Beige" and "Bradstreet Beige." Both colors have warm undertones and mix well with burgundy. For the ceiling, try "Billowy Down", a pale blue that will set off your trim and wall color and add a warm, decorative punch to your ceiling.

You'll have to be careful when choosing an accent color for the dining room. We don't want to do anything that will make it appear smaller than it is. So first let's tackle some decorating techniques that will give a sense of greater space. Place a large decorative mirror over your buffet piece or hang it alone on the wall. Be sure it doesn't reflect the door into the kitchen, but rather the dining table and chandelier. Light up the corners of your dining room with small recessed lights or wall sconces so that there are no dark areas in the room. Keep your window treatments elegant, but simple. The less wall space your draperies cover, the larger the wall around your window will seem. Move extra dining chairs into the living room so that you can leave empty floor space around the dining room perimeter. Take the arm chairs into the living room and use side chairs at the head and foot of the dining table. (Make sure the dining chair fabric complements the living room fabric.) Now you're ready to mix the same taupe you are using in the living room with burgundy for a rich and stimulating dining room. If you have traditional chair moulding, paint the top and bottom in two different colors. Using burgundy on top will give a dramatic punch; using taupe on top will be softer. If you have crown moulding at the ceiling, paint one part of it in burgundy- as if you are adding an accent stripe within the moulding itself. Both paint techniques will add a rich accent color while keeping the room as spacious-looking as possible.



Using Paint to Divide a Wall In Two

Dear Designing Solutions: I have a 25-year old split foyer home. The dining room and living room upstairs share a long wall. How can I create a division? I want to paint each area different color but it will look odd in the middle of the wall where the colors will meet. Should I put a 2x4 there or something? Thank you. Keryn Ahmed

Dear Keryn: I know exactly how to divide up this long wall using only paint, tape and three complementary wall colors. Let's start by agreeing that we'll use a golden tan, a deep pumpkin and a chocolate brown as the three paint colors (Benjamin Moore's "Dorset Gold", "Rust" and "Saddle Brown"). Of course, you can use any three colors that you like. Tape off a border 6 - 8 inches wide around all four sides of the long wall. Next, find the spot on the wall that you'd like to use to divide the living room from the dining room and tape off the same size border running from top to bottom. Fill in this 6 - 8 inch wide border with the chocolate brown paint. You should have framed out the entire length and width of the wall and added a line to divide the wall in two. Fill in one half of the unpainted, framed wall with the golden tan color and the other half with the deep pumpkin color. Voila- a wall divided into two, and a living room and dining room in different, but complementary colors.

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