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Colors for Small Rooms

People always worry that there are "rules" to follow when choosing paint colors for small rooms. Relax. There aren't any rules. You can pick any shade you love, but keep these strategies in mind to help you choose a color you'll love to live with.

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To make your space feel cozy, choose a deep, intense hue. Don't worry about whether a color is considered "light" or "dark." Even yellow can be cozy if you choose amber or bronze, which is at the edge of the chip in a paint manufacturer's fan deck of colors. These edge-shades have undertones of brown, red, or blue, which intensify the color. Pink, for example, becomes coral with red undertones. A saturated color, such as the mushroom tone on these living room walls, absorbs light, making it a room-darkener. In a small space, it also tends to make the walls appear more prominent, so they seem closer and more embracing.

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Energize a Small Room

Choose a paint color from the middle of a paint strip. These colors bring lively energy to a small space. The green on the walls in this bedroom was picked as a complement to the wallpaper. Because the green is a midtone -- not too pale and not too intense -- it has as much verve as the pinks and corals, without the overwhelming intensity these colors would exude.

Impart Serenity with Pale Colors

At the tips of the paint chips in a fan deck are the pale hints of color. These are often referred to as pastels and are heavily influenced by white. For example, add enough white to eggplant purple, and eventually you'll get lilac. These white-based shades have restful and quiet tones. They also bounce light back, so they act to brighten and lighten a small space. As opposed to saturated colors, these hues appear vaporous, and therefore walls tend to recede and feel farther away.

Use Small Doses

In a small space, the wall color you choose -- no matter what hue, intensity, or shade -- will have more presence simply because it's closer to the eye. If you want to make a color statement but aren't sure how far to go, start by painting just one prominent wall, such as the wall around a focal point feature like the bed or sofa. The color will be noticeable, and you'll get a chance to see how it influences the room's objects, art, and natural light. Maybe that's all the color you will need for the space. Or, over time, you may decide to extend the color to the other walls.

How to use Paint Swatches

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