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.
Judy Mellott saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm
Love your store, look forward to receiving your blog postings.
Mary Anne Herring saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm
Hi Mary Carol:
I enjoy your posts and can’t imagine how you do what you do! I guess it’s about PASSION.
Funny, I painted my inside front door last Fall semi gloss black and I love it!!!
Love your posts and inspiring ideas.
Still designing but no more Robins Egg Blue!
Hope all is well.
Mary Carol saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm
Thanks, Judy and Mary Anne!
kate sullivan saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm
The very first book I bought when we purchased our Colonial Home was Nell Hills. I loved the color of your dining room and the living room.
And your creativity in furniture placement. So cozy, every room.
I am so happy I found your blog!
Thankyou for keeping all of us so inspired!!
Betty/Betsy Woods saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm
As usual Mary Carol has done her remarkable job of educating us. I love the
idea of black doors and darker painted dining rooms.
mimi tafour saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm
Thanks always for the joy of Monday’s beautiful photos and creative ideas for our homes. Gonna get me one of those buckets of paint and “purty up” the place. 🙂
Cheryl Schwindt saysFebruary 17, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Love the painted ceilings. I have in my house the ceilins are painted a seafoam green with the master painted a sage green. We bought our house because the ceilings were painted. Love some of your options with bright colors for the ceiling. We are building another house and can’t wait to pick out the paint colors. I’m saving this blog. Thanks for all your inspiration.
Mary Carol saysFebruary 19, 2014 at 10:25 am
I think that we all get our best decorating tips and solutions from one another, don’t you? I love hearing about what you all are doing in your homes, and what you’ve tried that you really like. It inspires me! Keep sharing!!
Molly Kelly saysFebruary 21, 2014 at 7:51 am
Once again I love your ideas and inspiration. I am also enjoying your new book Rooms We Love! Question….love the idea of painting the back of our doors black. Thinking about doing that with my front door, what if your door isn’t black on the other side? It is a deep brown. I didn’t know if there is a right or wrong way to do this! I do love the contrast of the black against the white trim on the inside!
May Schultz-Reed saysFebruary 24, 2014 at 9:29 am
I agree that paint can perk things up, make spaces more interesting, but to paint a vintage marble top Eastlake table orange is a terrible idea. After the owner gets tired of orange the table will end up in a burn pile and there goes our American heritage and a fine antiques. Something else in the room could have added interest instead of an orange table of Eastlake quality.
franki saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 11:42 am
Paint is my manna!! franki
nancy kabonic saysMarch 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm
Love your paint ideas. What is the wonderful paint color you used on the walls of the cover sleeve of your new book, “Rooms We Love” ? Thank you! your DEVOTED fan, Nancy Kabonic
Ivy saysMarch 13, 2014 at 9:57 pm
What is the paint color/brand of your friend Anne’s dining room? I need to paint my dining room that color!
nancy kabonic saysApril 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm
Could you please tell me the name of the wall paint that is on the walls on the cover jacket of your (fantastic I might add!) new book “Rooms We Love” ?
Mary Carol saysApril 16, 2014 at 11:38 am
Hi Nancy–That is our ‘Winter Wheat’ paint from our Mary Carol Artisan Paint line.
Absolutely thrilled you love my new book!