How to tone down a bright wall color

Updated April 17, 2017

So you had this great idea for your living room or bedroom to really make it pop. You went to the paint store and found an amazing, bright green paint that was going to give new life to your home. You raced home to give your drab walls a makeover. Well, now you are standing in what feels like a kid's cartoon playhouse, and you are seriously regretting your decision. You still love the colour, but it's just way too bright. Don't fret. You can tone down a bright wall colour.

Hang curtains of a neutral colour such as white or beige to balance out the room.

Dress the couch or bed in a plain, neutral slipcover or bedding that does not have patterns or elaborate stitching.

Place a lamp with a dimmer in the room and only use lowlight settings.

Screw a blue light bulb into your light fixture to wash out the bright walls.

Hang large, simple, modern art with lots of white space on the walls to take the focus away from the walls themselves.

Mix white paint with the original colour of the walls until you have a softer tone you like.

Pour a 50/50 mixture of the new colour and the glaze into a bucket and mix it gently with a paint stirrer.

Fill the paint tray with the new paint/gloss mixture.

Touch the sponge lightly to the paint in the tray so that it has a thin layer of paint on the end.

Dab the bright walls gently in small sections so that the bottom colour still peeks through gaps in the sponged-on paint.


For a different look, try using a rolled rag, a feather duster or a large paint brush with light, smooth strokes in one direction. Put painter's tape along the edges of windows, trim, ceiling or other walls to avoid getting paint on them. If you want to take your wall darker instead of lighter, try adding a darker colour to the paint you have, such as adding blue to bright green to make a darker green.


Cover your floor and furniture with plastic. Once that glossy pain gets on there, it's pretty much impossible to get off. Practice the sponge technique on the inside of a closet or on an old piece of wood before touching your walls because once you mess it up, the only solution is repainting.

Things You'll Need

  • Neutral-coloured curtains
  • Neutral bedding
  • Dimmer light
  • Blue light bulb
  • Large, simple modern art
  • Can of white paint
  • Can of original wall colour
  • Can of semigloss glaze
  • Empty bucket
  • Paint stirrer
  • Paint tray
  • Sea sponge
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author