How to add a bold paint color to a neutral space

June 11, 2019

So if someone asked, would you say you're a lover of color in your home? Do you like a softer, neutral space, or one with deeper colors? 

I've always said I'm the former for sure...but then I looked at this shot of my office progress (I shared on Instagram), and I got to thinking: 
Dark green built ins Vintage Vogue BM

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I am a fan of color in our home. Much more than ever...especially when you compare this house to our last one. 

I LOVE the look of all light rooms when I see them online or in photos. At least most of the time -- they have to have some wood or black to ground the space, otherwise they feel sterile to me.

But every time I've considered going all white for a room, it never sticks. It's just not me. I can appreciate it for sure, but my style is changing a bit. I've noticed that I prefer a big pop of color, but it's always on the walls. Not all the walls mind you. Just one or two. Try to keep up here. ;) 

It's a trend I've noticed in our new(ish) house. I guess I've never really thought about it...I just do what I want in each space and try to make our home feel cohesive overall. But the more I spend time in my office with the green built ins, the more I realize I'm definitely changing and enjoying even more contrast in our home. I'm really attracted to deeper colors that play with lighter furnishings and lots of wood tones. 

I just think wood looks so sharp against a dark color, like the long shelves I added to the game storage wall

Dark gray accent wall basement toy storage

Some don't consider gray to be a "color" but I disagree. There are SO many different takes on gray, and each will create a different feel in a space. 

That dark gray color on the basement wall is called Westchester and it's a favorite. It's a solid gray -- no purple or blue tones to it. I love it. I first used it to create our dramatic ceiling in the master
Dark gray tray ceiling with wood beams Westchester gray

I am so drawn to the deeper tones lately...but not in the whole room! I hear accents walls may be going out of style but I'll hold onto them with a death grip. Our master just happens to have the accent wall on the ceiling. :) 

The board and batten powder room is the first space I tackled after moving into this house and I immediately went with the dark blue wallpaper and ceiling: 
Blue gold peel and stick wallpaper white board and batten

Other than our son's bedroom and an accent wall in our master in the last house, I can't remember anywhere I went so dark before. 

Maybe it's because this floorplan is a little more open? It's a bright home for sure, with lots of natural light. I feel like the openness and sunlight really allows me to go more dramatic on the walls. 

Our dining space has dark walls, but I balanced it with a wall of white built ins: 
Dark blue walls dining area with built in shelves and window seat

I think the key to bringing in color without it taking over is just that...balance. First and foremost, I want our home to feel calm and cozy. I don't want anything jarring, but I think you can accomplish that when you balance the deep colors with lighter accents elsewhere. 

The TALL fireplace wall and built ins in our family room aren't overwhelming because I kept everything else light and neutral: 
Dark blue accent wall cyberspace Sherwin Williams

Overall I use very little color in our furniture or accessories...but that gives me room to create some drama with color elsewhere. 

It's funny how our styles change over the years, right? I feel like this is an update of my decorating style ten years ago -- but now I'm using darker tones that I consider neutrals (blue goes with anything) instead of orange, yellow or brown walls. ;) (If you've been reading long enough you know which spaces I'm talking about!)

I think I can safely say you'll never see those colors in our home again. But who knows -- I used to hate the color blue and look what happened! Ha! 

If love a neutral room but crave some contrast and color like me, it can be done in a fresh and updated way! Don't be afraid to add some deep tones to your home too. I already have plans to use the rest of the dark green paint elsewhere in our house. ;) 

So what are you -- a white and bright lover, or do you prefer more color in your home? Or are you a mix of the two like me? 

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  1. I love a good accent wall - or in your case, an accent ceiling! So pretty! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. love adding drama and contrast - it's only paint so easy to change if you don't love it. I've also painted ceilings in smaller rooms (bedroom and WC and its fantastic as it blurs the lines between where the wall ends). to that end, I would suggest you consider painting out your bathroom cornice in the same grey as the wall and ceiling - you won't loose the detail in fact you'll add texture!

  3. I agree 100% with you on this. So far the only room that I have added "color" to is my dining room. We have a creamy picture frame wainscoting in there. The walls were a brownish green when we bought our house. I lived with it for a year and finally painted them a beautiful color in the HGTV-SW line called Thorntree. It is listed as a gray but is the most delicious combination of muted blue/green hues. It is still a neutral but whispers "color" instead of shouting it out and it goes with any color.

  4. I was always a bold color lover. But now that I'm older I am leaning more toward very light grays. I recently painted our main bathroom a color called "silent white" by Behr. I love it. It's a tiny bit gray but not too much and not just plain white. Before I painted the walls they were a deep, deep plum color from Sherwin Williams. They remained that color since 2008. I grew very tired of the bold color in that small space. Now that it's repainted a lighter color and all the trim and door painted ultra white and new hardwood floors in there - it does not look like the same space!

  5. Interesting. I agree with you completely on this! When you see white rooms, people always say it gives you freedom to do whatever you want with furniture and accessories, but I see a white room and it just feels cold. But what you're saying is the complete opposite - if you keep furniture and accessories neutral, you can be more bold on the walls. That just feels better to me.

    I love the green you used in your office and can't wait to see the whole wall when it's finished!

  6. Love all the dark contrasting colors you've used in your new home.


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