Too Shy For Bold Paint Colors Youre Not Alone

Too Shy For Bold Paint Colors Youre Not Alone

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mihalis_a/iStock; andipantz/iStock; realtor.com

Admit it: Deep down, you're bored to tears with your white or gray walls, and are dying to add an accent wall in cranberry red or cobalt blue. Only problem is, you're just too chicken to make the leap.

As it turns out, you have plenty of company. According to a new study from house paint titan Sherwin-Williams,  a majority of Americans (58%) yearn to break free of their neutral-toned palettes and splash bolder colors throughout their homes. But that doesn't mean they're actually doing it.

The company's analysis of over 12,000 social media posts highlighting home decor showed that the decidedly uncolorful shades of white (29%) and black (16%) still dominate homes.

So people dream of decorating with color, but are too timid to try. Why? Perhaps it's the effect of the minimalist, Scandi-inspired all-white home trend that hit its peak last year. Or, perhaps people are scared to invest time or money in something that may be perceived as looking silly.

"There is an apprehension based on a perceived lack of sophistication that a bold color may bring," says interior designer Danielle DeBoe Harperof Cleveland. "But that's not really fair. Look at any old English country mansion, and the rooms are as colorful as their gardens."

That said, there's certainly reason to be color-wary: Intense hues in a home can easily overpower a space and look just plain wrong.

"You have to know really what you're doing with bold colors, or it will be a big miss," says Paulina Oldenbrook of Paulina Oldenbrook Interior Design, in Larkspur, CA. Without a bit of guidance—whether it be from a decor publication or an actual interior designer—people are less likely to take the plunge and go for something statement-making.

Tips for decorating with bold colors

Bold can be beautiful or ghastly in the home; we tapped some top interior designers to help you end up on the right side of that equation.

No. 1: Start with smaller rooms

When it comes to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, Harper suggests starting with more confined spaces.

"Smaller rooms means smaller commitment," she says. "Foyers and powder rooms are an excellent opportunity to add a little dose of the unexpected in your home."

One less obvious area to add bold color? The ceiling!

"Paint the room in whatever neutral you want, but then go bold with a color like cobalt on the ceiling."

Danielle Deboe Harper selected an eggplant purple for a client's entryway.
Danielle Deboe Harper selected an eggplant purple for a client's entryway.

Deboe Studio Interiors

No. 2: Matte makes the most sense

"When using darker, bolder-colored paint, it is best to use matte finish wall colorings," says Harper.

The combination of a bold color and a shiny finish could come off a little harsh, so stick to a good-quality paint that reveals a matte texture when it dries. And Harper suggests picking up a good tinted primer that will better support a darker or richer color.

No. 3: Go bold in rooms that see more foot traffic

Rooms that are public, see a lot of foot traffic, or are designated for socializing—like a sitting room, powder room, or kid's playroom—can handle more color on the walls, explains Oldenbrook. She likes to reserve the soothing palettes, like luxurious cream or gray hues, for the rooms where a restful ambience is important: the master bedroom or bathroom, for example.

No. 4: Focus on your front door

Even color commitment-phobes can get behind painting their front door a bold hue.

"It is so welcoming!" says Larina Kase of Karina Kase Interior Design, in Philadelphia. The front door is a relatively small part of your house, so if you paint it and end up hating it, changing it back won't be a big deal. Plus, colorful doors have been around for ages—e.g., the Doors of Dublin—so experimenting with one doesn't exactly mean you're stepping too far out of the box.

For colors, Kase suggests aqua, French blue, yellow, coral, red, or cobalt blue.


Photo by Garden Studio - The lemon yellow paint color chosen for this front door is balanced out by the house's white exterior.

Natalie Way is an associate editor at realtor.com. She writes news and advice stories about home buying, decorating, celebrity real estate, and more.  Follow @NatalieWay


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Dated: May 23rd 2017
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