Some thoughts about color.

Choosing colors for a room is a big concern for many people. If the room is small, will dark hues make it seem too small? How many shades are too many in a room? How about bright tints- yes, no, when, how and where?

The decision-making process must begin somewhere so let's start with the mood you are trying to create. Since this is a bedroom, you're probably not looking for a stimulating, wild and crazy feel. Relaxing, calming and peaceful are the qualities to aim for in a bedroom.

Does the room get lots of sun, or is it generally dark and shady, or is it somewhere in the middle? Morning sun? Late in the day sun? Does the occupant of the room have a "normal" schedule of rising in the morning and sleeping at night, or must you take into consideration the needs of one of the many people who work at night and sleep during the day? Are you a desert-dweller who would like the room to have more of a cool feeling? Or maybe you have more than a passing acquaintance with snow and you'd prefer the room to strike a warmer note. Lots to think about, so take your time. Ready?

There are certain generalities to take into account, such as:

  • Yellows, oranges and reds warm up a room
  • Greens, blues and purples set a cool tone
  • White or light tints have an airy, cheerful feeling and can make a room seem larger
  • Darks or brights impart coziness and can make a room seem smaller
  • A bright shade can be used to make a room feel stimulating and dramatic
  • Paint one wall in a light colored room a dark or bright tone and that wall will appear to move forward visually, decreasing the visual size of the room
  • A light wall in a dark room will seem to retreat, increasing the apparent size of the room
  • Paint woodwork around doors, windows, floors and ceiling a color that contrasts with the walls (or leave it all natural) and the woodwork is emphasized, making the room seem smaller
  • Woodwork the same color as the walls will recede and the room will look larger
  • Limit the number of colors in a room to no more than four, unless you are working only with shades and tones of one color
  • Color schemes without strong contrast make small rooms appear more spacious
  • Always allow one color to dominate the scheme, and use other hues as accents
  • Repeat colors throughout the room so the effect is balanced
Still looking for inspiration? Decide whether your scheme will play up the background or the furnishings. One or the other- not both, or you'll end up with a confused, cluttered, non-restful bedroom. If you have a fantastic bed with a carved headboard and matching night tables, draw attention to them with wonderful bedding and accessories, and give the walls (and the floor) a subtle treatment that won't compete with the furnishings for attention. On the other hand, if the furniture is rather ho-hum or if there isn't much of it, plan a dramatic color treatment for the walls and floor and use neutral or subtle shades on the furnishings.

A neutral scheme is a popular look that works well in bedrooms, and especially in small bedrooms. One version of this look is based on a range of "color" from white, taupe, and tan, through beige, gray and brown, in varying degrees of intensity. Or you could choose a single neutral and use it on everything, again in varying intensities. To avoid a boring room, balance the values of light to dark around the room, and use LOTS of texture and pattern.

When it comes time to select the paint, and especially if you're feeling timid about the color, buy a small amount of the paint that you are considering and apply it to a large white poster board. Tack the painted board to a wall in the bedroom and live with it for a day or two. See what it looks like in both natural and artificial light. This will give you a better feel for how the room would look than you can get with a little paint chip from the store display.

But remember this. If you take the plunge and paint the room something that turns out completely awful, so what? It can be painted over or covered up, if necessary, and you might decide that, after all, it's not so bad.