Professional tips from interior designers show how experimenting with finishes, placement, and application techniques can make rooms appear larger and decor seem more expensive.
Interior design experts who spoke to Homes and Gardens shared their favorite tricks for elevating a living space with just paint.
Make the room look bigger
Using paint to make a room appear larger is much simpler than you might expect. Designer Erin Gunther said paying attention to color is key.
Try painting the wall a warm, soothing color, such as a darker pink, and switching a lighter tone toward the top of the wall—mixing the main color with white paint will achieve the effect.
“Not only does this painting technique add interest, but it blurs the edges of the room, making the ceiling appear higher and the room appear larger,” Gunter said.
Or, if you’re applying a bright color to your walls, keep it up to the ceiling, an often overlooked part of the room.
“It’s often an afterthought,” designer Nicola Harding told outlets.
I remembered a customer’s dining room, which was very small but had plenty of natural light. A layer of vibrant blue paint on the walls and ceiling made the space seem larger.
“Using tricks and ideas in painting the ceiling helped extend the walls in this dining room,” Harding explained.
Pale colors are also a great way to expand a room with high-use workstations, such as the kitchen.
Try putting a lighter color on your sink or counter, which will prevent a feeling of tightness during cooking.
Fake finishes and textures
You don’t need to pay for luxury items in your home, as long as you have access to paint that can complement your room’s decor.
For example, decorative paint on the walls, applied with a sponge or mixed with the material before application, can create depth, which is especially useful in narrow corridors.
A detailed decorative layer around a fireplace can mimic the look of expensive marble.
Designer Sarah Stimp, founder of Sascal Studio, said new paint can update an old bedroom headboard.
Stemp renovated the old canvas to give the client’s back a new, matching color scheme for the walls.
Try painting your headboard, using similar tones for the walls, and layering darker and slightly paler shadows with textured brush strokes.
Renovate old houses
If you live in an older home, paint can make it look more modern and cover any aesthetic flaws in the masonry.
White paint, for example, acts as an eraser when used properly, making old ceilings with exposed beams look soft and deliberate.
“Decorative finishes for paint are getting more and more popular,” interior designer Kate Guinness said, and you might see them in place of things like stucco.
“We continue to offer paint details in place of solid moldings, for example, or to incorporate additional points of interest and hide architectural flaws,” Guinness said.
If moldings or other details in your home are looking old, try giving them a fresh coat of paint to add a modern touch. This is especially effective on paneled walls or thin edges that may conflict with the style of the room.