I will be the first to tell you that paint is one of the most, if not the most powerful tool in a decorator’s bag of tricks. It is one of the best ways to change the whole look of a room, and to make it appear fresh once again. But I want to argue that we have to stop expecting too much of paint. When we understand what it is really good at, as well as its limitations, it becomes an even more amazing way to enhance the decor in our homes.


ENHANCE is the key word I would like to emphasize. Paint is at its best when it is enhancing the other qualities of the room itself.


A vibrant candy-coated hue can make a formal powder room a little more fun and glamorous.

Pink Powder Room - via Interiors For Families



A light, cool blue-gray imparts a soothing vibe in a master bedroom, taking the relaxation factor to a whole new level.

Soft Blue Master Bedroom - via Interiors For Families



Finding just the right color to complement an existing rug, tile, or fabric can bring those other furnishings and finishes to life and pull the entire room together.

Katie Ridder - via Interiors For Families


A breezy pastel turquoise is always at home in a coastal setting, where big windows frame jaw-dropping water views and green foliage.

Sherwin-Williams Topsail Paint Color - via Interiors For Families


The perfect neutral keeps the walls quiet and allows your colorful furnishings to shine.

Harmonious Bedroom in Warm Tones w/ Light Beige Paint - via Interiors For Families


What we need to stop expecting from paint is a total transformation of the inherent, immovable qualities of the room.

Paint alone cannot….

Make a small room look large.

Make a large room look small.

Make a room without natural light (or sufficient electric lighting) look lighter.

It just can’t. Sorry.


When choosing paint colors in a situation where you’re working with certain fixed elements – either architectural, soft furnishings, or both – the best thing you can do is to go with the grain.


Have a small room? Paint it a dark, moody color to make it feel even more cozy.

Cozy Sleeping Nook by Stephen Gambrel - via Interiors For Families


Large space with lots of big windows? How about a light pastel, or even white/off-white to really make it bright.

Bright, White Dining Room - via Interiors For Families


Lacking natural light somewhere? Consider a vivid, saturated color with some warmth to it, which will have a cheerful effect, and look even richer in the presence of yellow-toned incandescent lighting.

Fresh Green Laundry Room w/ Little Natural Light - via Interiors For Families


Have you ever been disappointed by paint because you expected too much of it? I’d love to hear your stories!


All images via Pinterest.



Related Posts:

How to Paint a Dark Room

Using Color to Create Balance and Harmony

Soothing Non-Blue Bedroom Color Schemes



Posted by:Kelly Rogers

9 replies on “Adjusting Our Expectations For Paint

    1. Exactly, Anna! Thank you for saying what I left out – it’s really paint in combination with everything else that creates a great space. And sets a mood – that’s one area in which I do think paint could be considered “transformational” – in conjunction with other elements. Thanks so much for commenting and for the follow!

  1. Oh my gosh I completely agree. When I was moving house I wanted to paint the hallway in a soft neutral with a patterned wallpaper feature wall and darker woodwork (like downpipe by farrow and ball) and my mum was really against it, she said the woodwork must be bright white to make the small hall look bigger and an entrance should be light and airy, but it’s tiny and I wanted to walk into a cosy space. I listened to her and every time I look at my hall now I don’t think it’s big or airy, I just find it bland. I need to paint it again!

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