One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from home owners is how to paint an open concept space. They love the spacious flow of their home, and want to make each area look unique while staying color coordinated. Most know the colors they want, but they don’t know where to start and stop each color on the walls around the space.
I suggest deciding on a color palette and then choose three colors from that palette to paint the walls. A dark shade, a medium shade and a light shade—all from one color family—is always a safe bet.
I tell homeowners to get a Post-it note pad and write down each of the three colors on a separate piece of paper. Have three or four Post-it notes for each color. Then go around the rooms and place the color you think you would like to see on that wall. The corners where two walls meet are the best places to transition from one color to another. The far wall usually works well for the accent wall color. Accent color also looks nice on kitchen backsplashes, on the backs of open cabinets, and if you’re up to it, on a piece of furniture.
- Use the same paint sheen on all the walls in the space for a cohesive look.
- When deciding where to place colors, always look at the room from all angles. If, when entering from the kitchen you can see into two other rooms, then using a different color for each far wall will create the feeling of depth and make the space look more interesting.
- If there is a long wall that spans two areas (like a kitchen and a family room) with no break to paint each space a different color, then add molding above a window or doorway along the wall to create a break.
- Try to spread the colors throughout the space to create balance.
Here is an example of how to paint an open concept space with more than one color:
- Back splashes and the backs of shelving units are good places to use the boldest color or the accent wall color. Spreading the bold color out around the space will add visual flow and balance.
- Walls around doorways that are a direct lead to the main or focus area can be the medium or lightest color.
- Small sections of wall around windows that are adjacent to the focal wall look best in either the medium or light color, or in a shade that’s enough of a difference to make the focal wall stand out.
- Focal walls always look good with the darkest or most vibrant shade in your color palette.
- A long wall that spans two areas may be broken up with a doorway to another room. It works well in the lightest color.
- The wall on the opposite side of the space from the focal wall should be the medium or light color so the room doesn’t feel like its opposite sides are closing in.
- The adjacent room in view could be painted the color you want to see the most.
- The secondary wall in adjacent room can be painted another color if you want to create more interest or a feeling of depth.
- The ceiling should be neutral.
If you have a digital photo of your room(s) and would like to get a visual of how the space would look with different wall colors, you can upload the photo to the Room Visualizer. It’s a fun way to see how colors will look in your space before buying any paint.
Diane Henkler decorated her first home using tricks from her work in the display trade. She wrote a book called Instant Decorating and now shares her decorating ideas on her blog, InMyOwnStyle.com