The Power of Paint

Want some instant decorating gratification? Pop open a can of paint. Inside this little silver treasure box is the power to transform a room in a jiff. Dollar-for-dollar, there is no more cost effective decorating tool, and with a few swipes of a brush in some strategic spots, you can give a room new life. Here are four fabulous ways to unleash the power of paint in your home: 

1. Paint Your Ceiling

When I was growing up my mom made our kitchen groovy by hanging funky flower power wallpaper on our kitchen ceiling that was emblazoned with avocado and gold daisies. While I’m not suggesting you turn your kitchen ceiling into a ‘70s throwback, I do want to plant the idea that your ceiling is an often-overlooked place to add a jolt of color. Check out the photo above. The white walls keep the room calm, then, ka-pow!, the Peony ceiling gives it oodles of personality. (Tip for moms whose daughters want to paint their rooms an eye-searing shade of orange, green, pink or blue: compromise by painting the ceiling.)

Ceilings don’t have to be covered in high-contrast colors to be lovely. When I visited Earnest Hemingway’s home in Key West a few years ago, I was agog at the ceilings that were painted robin’s egg blue. They said it was to thwart wasps from building their nests. But I fell in love with the concept as a decorating tool. My kitchen and porch ceilings are both painted a light blue. But I didn’t stop there, because you all know as well as I do that once you start painting things it’s hard to stop. Next I painted the ceiling of my Twilight blue dining room khaki.


2. Paint Your Furniture

Are you a DIY fan? Do you spend every free second on Pinterest? Then you know how much fun it is to give tired furniture a brand new look. If you have a vintage or antique piece of furniture that is just not calling your name anymore, give it a new lease on life with a coat of paint.

My friend Anne protected this wooden coffee table with paint so it could weather the elements on her covered patio. Ask the folks at your paint store for recommendations on procedures and products for the best results.

Hate to paint? Buy a piece of painted furniture. At Nell Hill’s, we have wonderful chests, chairs, tables, cabinets – you name it – in a rainbow of colors, from stately black or white to the season’s hottest hues.

Painted furniture doesn’t have to be funky. It can also be so, so sophisticated. Case in point: the beautiful antique reproduction in my friend Beth’s living room, pictured above. The milky finish on this piece is tasteful and understated and so elegant.


3. Paint Your Walls

If you want to give a room a complete personality change, cover the walls in a vibrant new color. Julie infused her kitchen with lots of energy when she painted it Shuttered Window, this go-with-anything emerald green from my Mary Carol Artisan Paint line. Love it!

Paint can also make a room moody and dramatic. My friend Anne’s dining room is painted a warm, wonderful gray. I like dining rooms that are painted deep colors.

The walls don’t always have to be the star of the show. Beth painted her walls a light cream that provides a warm backdrop for the room’s stunning architecture, artwork and furnishings.


4. Paint a Door

This is my new thing: Painting doors a deep, rich, shiny black. A few years ago, when I was staying at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, I was swept away by the sophisticated look of the grand piano black guestroom doors against the creamy white trim. I came home and started painting all the doors in my home black. This high-contrast effect turns doors into focal points. If black isn’t your thing, how about taupe or a muted light green, like you see in many historical homes?


Next Week … Speaking of black, next week I’ll share lots of ideas for using this powerful neutral in your home décor.