Color Balance

5 Ways to Live Brightly with Bold, Deep Color

As rich peacock colors and spice-tone hues continue to gain ground, one thing is for certain: AT readers have strong opinions about how to best incorporate these bold colors into a room. Too much of a good deep shade can leave a sunny space feeling like a cramped dungeon, and too little can make a white box room feel even more lifeless. Whether your style is spare or vibrant, here are five ideas for bringing in 2009's heavy tones while keeping your room light...

Maximizing the counter-balancing impact of bright white is key to the success of all these simple variations.

1. Saturate the walls, Brighten the trim. There is nothing like bright-white molding to balance super rich dark walls. To maximize the effect use flat paint on the walls and high gloss bright white paint (we like Benjamin Moore's "Super White") on the trim. This simple idea can be as extreme as the room above or as minimal as only painting the baseboards and crown molding. For an easy to follow instructions on how to install Wall Frame Molding (like the picture above) visit This Old House's online article. Bright white accessories such as the lamp shades, sconces, and chair frame also do a lot to freshen the room and keep the deep blue from overwhelming the space.

2. Cover a portion of the walls, Play up the ceiling. Although this room has enviable baseboards and distinctive picture rail molding, you can achieve a similar look without the fabulous architectural details by taping off two portions of the wall (about a foot from the ceiling and 6 inches from the floor) and painting the space within them a rich, dark color. Leaving the top portion of the wall the same color as the ceiling adds a lot of visual height to the room. As with the first room, white furnishings keep the room feeling bright.

3. A Few Bold Furnishings. If you can't paint but still crave a heavy dose of color, pick one or two richly hued pieces of furniture to enliven a white room. Too many loud furnishings will crowd even a large room quickly, so limiting the bold furniture will maximize the color impact as well as the space. You can bring in other lightly colored pieces of furniture too if need be.

4. Color the walls, Use Bright White Accessories. If you rely on light colored furniture and accessories, you can paint a room floor-to-ceiling in most any dark, rich color without making it seem too crowded. In this picture, the white sofa, textured white area rug, white light fixtures, and white picture mats unite to enhance the room's spacious, airiness. While the side tables and coffee table are dark, their simple silhouettes fade into the white furnishings surrounding them.

5. Selected bursts of accent color. Painting a thin band of a deep-tone just below the crown molding acts like a color frame to the room, emphasizing the other splashes of richly colored accents in this otherwise neutral room.

What's your favorite use of deep color?

(Images: 1-2: Domino, 3: Living Etc., 4: Better Homes and Gardens, 5: Traditional Home)