Home & Garden

6 room painting ideas that will trick your eye

It's all about perspective

Different room painting ideas offer different spatial perspectives Credit: Getty Images / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to change a room, the eyes have it. Translation: You can’t always believe what you see, and when dealing with unfavorable design elements in your home, creating optical illusions can solve some of those issues.

So, consider your space the perfect place to play games. With a simple coat of paint, in just the right shade of color, and one of these room painting ideas, you can create a living area you desire by “changing” its vibe, shape, or size. Even without a staircase, M.C. Escher would be proud.

1. Enlarge a small room

painted floor
Credit: Getty Images / imaginima

Painting a room's floor in a lighter, brighter color can make the room appear bigger and more airy.

When it comes to painting projects, most people point their brushes at their walls, but painting your floor can have a dramatic effect.

When a tiny room with less-than-optimal natural light creates claustrophobic vibes, Ecos Paints’ Marketing Director Emma Pugliares suggests opting for painting the floor in a lighter, brighter color to make the room appear bigger and more airy.

Ecos sells specialized anti-slip floor paint, although we haven’t vetted it ourselves. And, after painting, you can spruce it up with a pattern or stencil.

Like the floor, a ceiling is also an often-overlooked canvas.

Pugliares says, “Obviously white is the traditional choice, and there’s a reason for that. White ceilings help make a room feel bigger,” she continues. “But, if you’re bored with white, you could opt for a lighter shade of your existing wall color to keep that light, airy feeling.”

Or, you can paint your ceiling the same color as your walls, which helps create the illusion of height. With one color all around, it eliminates a visual breaking point and gives the appearance of the room being bigger than it actually is.

As an added bonus—blue tape, be gone—painting your walls, ceiling, and trim the same color makes for an easier painting job.

2. Narrow a large room

According to Terry Koubele, owner of Five Star Painting of Federal Way, Washington, using a darker shade on two side walls will narrow a large room.

“Adding a complimentary color or a couple shades darker than the primary walls (longer walls) can make the short walls feel closer. Then, the room can look more square than rectangular,” he says.

On the other hand, when a room feels extremely narrow do the opposite and paint the two end walls a darker color to create the feeling of a square-shaped room.

3. Elongate a room

all same color
Credit: Getty Images / CreativaStudio

Painting all four walls the same color extends a room’s shape and lengthens it visually.

Paint all four walls the same color to extend a room’s shape and lengthen it visually, Koubele says. “You don’t always have to go with a bright white. Paints have an LRV rating (Light Reflective Value) that can ensure that you have picked a color that will reflect light and give that larger feeling to the room.”

4. Make a large room feel more compact

wainscoting
Credit: Getty Images / arquiplay77

In a room with unnaturally high ceilings, wainscoting can make the upper part of the wall feel shorter, which brings the ceiling down from a visual perspective.

A large room can feel overwhelming. Instead of lowering the ceiling (an expensive, usually impossible feat), paint it a dark shade.

Koubele explains, “Large rooms can feel cozier by painting the ceiling a warmer color than the walls. By doing this, you can bring the appearance of the ceiling lower. Choosing a color in the same color family is key.”

He also adds that wainscoting can make the upper part of the wall feel shorter, which brings the ceiling down from a visual perspective. You can also try color-blocking with paint to create a faux wainscoting look.

Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, adds, “Warm, earthy tones are calming and help cultivate a feeling of wellness in the home, which is exactly what homeowners are looking for right now. It creates a cocoon-like effect, making the space feel grounded and comforting.”

5. Separate a room using an accent wall

accent wall
Credit: Getty Images / onurdongel

Paint a wall that a piece of furniture like a desk sits against a different shade than the rest of the room to create a separate space.

An accent wall can help designate different areas of a space, perfect for our do-it-all homes.

Wadden says, “Using paint and color can help differentiate workspaces from living spaces by creating an area for focus for work and school, and also sanctuaries, totally separate from everything else.”

Accent walls play double duty by helping rooms appear much larger than they are, especially if you paint the tallest wall in the room.

Amy Donato, PPG senior color marketing manager, suggests painting a wall that a piece of furniture like a desk sits against a different shade than the rest of the room.

“This approach will help give that area its own look and feel, while visually separating your livable space from your new ’office.’” The same goes for the space that may be doubling as your Peloton studio. An accent wall next to your bike or work-out equipment can help change up the room’s sameness.

6. Give the illusion of larger windows

white window trim
Credit: Getty Images / runna10

White window trim helps draw the eye to the natural light, making the space feel brighter and airy.

Donato suggests using a stark white paint on your window trim to help draw the eye to the natural light in the space and put an emphasis on the windows, making the space feel brighter and airy.

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