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Colorful and Bright Decorating Ideas

Paint a door red, deck the bedroom in chocolate brown, try bold stripes in the bath. Create instant cheer with 10 bright ideas.

By Danielle Blundell

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Kitchen
William Waldron/The Interior Archive
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A High-Spirited Hue Elevates Kitchen Cabinetry

Instead of plain-Jane white, a coat of vivid paint brings cabinets into the limelight. "Pick something you won't tire of that works with the other shades in your home," says Julie Richard, the Massachusetts-based owner of Shelter Interior Design and an Ace Hardware design expert. If your cupboards have glass fronts, lacquer the inside.

Get the look: Benjamin Moore's Grape Green (2027-40) and St. Elmo's Fire (362). See benjaminmoore.com for stores.

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Show the Ceiling Some Love

"Leaving it bare is like forgetting the icing on the cake," says Erika Woelfel, director of color marketing at Behr in California. Eye-catching deeper hues can make the ceiling appear higher. If subtle is more your speed, Woelfel recommends a tone that's three shades lighter or darker than the walls.

Get the look: Valspar's Sable Evening (5006-2C) and Bluer Than Blue (4006-8C), available at Lowe's.

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Set a Serene Scene with a Deep Shade

Who says you have to paint the bedroom powder blue or seafoam green for a great night's sleep? "Chocolate brown has an enveloping effect that's cozy and soothing," says Danielle Colding, principal of Manhattan's Danielle Colding Design. If you're worried brown may be too boyish for the boudoir, mix in a side table with killer curves and accessories in a feminine hue like coral.

Get the look: Clark+Kensington's Thoroughbred (4018) and Ominous Cloud (5044) available at Ace Hardware stores.

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Let a Favorite Fabric Inspire a Room's Color Scheme

"Pastels, beiges and grays work best," says Woelfel. The trick, according to Colding, is using slight variations of the shade throughout the room—on drapery, pillows and even the rug. Throw in a piece of artwork or pottery in a zingy hue for contrast.

Get the look: Behr's Sky Blue (T14-5) and South Peach (T14-2), available at The Home Depot.

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White as a Neutral Is New Again

Snowy walls play well with virtually all accent pieces and finishes. "Think of white as a fresh background that lets furnishings and artwork pop," says Katie Reynolds, owner of Lilli Design in Dallas and an Ace Hardware design expert. Cooler whites soften a sundrenched space while warmer shades perk up windowless areas.

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Sassy Stripes Enliven a Small Space

Bands of alternating colors can boost a tiny powder room's appeal without overwhelming it. "Go for grown-up hues like classic black, navy blue or dark green paired with white to avoid a circus tent look," says Reynolds.

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Chalkboard Paint Introduces a Playful Vibe

Though often found in kids' rooms and kitchens, a blackboard wall can also lighten up the formality of a living area like the family room. Choose from a rainbow of colors for a wall, and put your own spin on it by sketching out an easy graphic design, such as interlocking circles.

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A Daring Door Makes a Strong First Impression Outside and In

A lively shade, especially one that's different from the moldings and walls, turns an entry door into a focal point. Try something unexpected: fire-engine red, turquoise or emerald green. Woelfel suggests using a high-sheen satin formula so fingerprints can be wiped clean in a snap.

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Bare Floors Can Benefit from a Painterly Touch

For the easiest ever room facelift, paint old or dull floorboards. "Pale colors create a clean, airy look because they reflect light," says Reynolds. Before you take the plunge, consider what's underfoot. "Leave antique oak or premium woods alone," says Richard.

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A Stenciled Motif Turns a Tired Dresser into a Showstopper

Whether from a flea market or Grandma's basement, any secondhand piece makes a prime candidate for personalizing with paint. "Go for something with an interesting shape," says Richard. Freehand or trace your desired design, and try punchy colors that enhance an item's unique features.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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