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Paint -- An Inexpensive Remodel

Keeping in mind the characteristics of particular colors, you can manipulate color and patterns to alter the apparent size, breadth, height and mood of a space. This is about the least expensive remodel one can do around the home. Properly chosen and executed the results can be absolutely amazing.

Dark, gloomy rooms
Rooms where daylight is excluded by walls, trees or very small windows are best decorated in pale, bright colors such as yellows, which often manage to produce a lighter, even a sunny, feeling. Mirrors help to double any natural light if they are facing in the right direction, and will also double the amount of color in the room by reflecting other colors.

Basement rooms, which often receive very little daylight, can be given added warmth by using apricots, reds or oranges, in deep basements where the light has to filter down from street level, it may be better to give up the idea of making the room seem light and instead to create a cozy, cave-like atmosphere. Use deep colors and plenty of low-level lamps with shades which create a glow, rather than direct-beam lights.

Short, squat rooms
Vertical stripes will make a room look taller and narrower. Wide stripes are only for spacious rooms but narrow stripes can add interest to a small room without looking too pompous. Painting stripes is difficult and most striped wallpapers are too fussy for small homes, but one way of providing stripes very cheaply is to stick colored tape at regular intervals vertically on the wall. Use a plumb line and a measuring tape to make sure you get them vertical and the right distance apart.

Tall, narrow rooms
Horizontal stripes can be effective in tall, narrow rooms in seeming to lower the height. A strip of contrasting color at chair-rail height—86cm (34in) from the floor—is best in rooms over 2.75m (9ft) high; any room with a lower ceiling height might look like a railway carriage if the walls are divided in this way. The strip need not be simply a painted color, but could be a wooden chair-rail. This can be painted in a matching color to the wall, a contrasting color or the same color as the rest of the woodwork. The wall below the rail can be painted either a contrasting color, or a darker or lighter tone. You can make a narrow room appear wider by using a stronger or a paler color on the lower part of the walls.

By painting a high ceiling in a darker color, picking : out any ceiling moldings, roses, cornices and so on in white or other contrasting pale color, you will effectively lower the impression of height. Warm colors such as reds and oranges will also appear to bring the ceiling nearer. It may also help to have a dark-colored floor because the two dark areas will appear to meet each other and thus shorten the apparent height of the walls.

To make the space look wider, paint one wall a different color to the others or use mirrors to make the narrow space look wider.

Low ceilings
Use vertical stripes for walls, which will help to 'push' the ceiling up, paint the ceiling paler than the walls and keep the flooring pale. If the room has low beams, leave them as natural wood if they are in good condition and paint the plaster between them a pale color—this is an instance when white is best. Ugly beams can be boxed in with pine or painted the same color as the ceiling so that they appear to merge into it.

Narrow halls, passages, staircase walls
A decorative paint technique such as dragging or sponge painting will give the walls a three-dimensional quality and create interest. Reflect this finish in large mirrors for an even better effect.

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