When space flows from room to room interrupted only by arches, a basic principle of design helps determine the wall and archway colours. Paint the arch to match the room you use the most. By definition, that is the room from which the arch frames the view most often of the adjoining space. If the living room is a heavily trafficked space that leads into the infrequently used dining room, the arch is painted to match the living room walls. Of course, every design rule exists to be broken, so consider your layout before choosing paint colours.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Notebook and pencil
- Room-by-room house plan (optional)
- Paint colour cards
- Sample jars of paint
- Interior wall paint
- Blue painter's tape
- Dust sheets
- Paint tray
Walk through the rooms from the front door, or the top of the stairs, and make notes about the use of space and what is visible through the arches or openings between rooms. Jot down light levels and floor colours as well.
Begin with the main room and choose a colour that will work with the furnishings and your plan for the room. Look at every room or hall that opens off the main room and decide whether it needs a contrasting colour, a different shade from the same colour card or a neutral shade. Get small sample jars and paint swatches in the corner and in the centre of each room to check the way the light affects the paint. Be sure you can see the colour samples from one room to the next so you get a sense of how they harmonise. Put sample colour matching the main room on the arches, too.
Once you've decided on a colour, throw down some dust sheets and start painting the main room. Begin with the ceiling, work down the walls and paint the arches. Keep a sharp, clean line in the archway paint by taping the edge of the arch nearest the adjoining room with blue painter's tape. Once the paint dries, remove the painter's tape from the outside edge of the arch and stick tape along the painted inside of the arch. Then paint the adjoining room in the same order as the main room.
Stand back and evaluate your colour strategy when you finish the first two rooms. Move between them, paying particular attention to how the colours frame each room through the archway. If you are satisfied that the colours you've chosen are working as planned, follow the same painting procedure for the rest of the rooms to be decorated.
Tips and warnings
- A very open space will seem much larger if the two or more rooms, ceilings and arches are all painted the same light or neutral colour.
- Contrasting colours highlight architectural features and, if they are warm colours, add energy and interest to the feeling in the space.
- Adjoining spaces with different light may be painted different intensities of the same colour. The darker space should get the lighter shade of paint .
- Pay attention to the colours and patterns of the furniture for each room as you make your paint selections. Try picking up colours from a rug in one room; for example, use the terracotta motif of a rug pattern in a maize room as the paint colour on the wall in the next room.
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