What You Need To Know About Painting Your Walls

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Now that you’ve got your dream home planned,built, and landscaped, and you‘ve found the perfect interior designer, it’s time to start thinking about individual elements in the design. The biggest decision — at least by square footage — is what to do with the walls.

I talked not so long ago about how happy I am to see the resurgence of wallpaper, and so much of what I said there also applies to paint. As I noted a few weeks ago, we’re finally seeing a trend away from white and toward colorful and creative walls, and I believe that this is going to be a big shift, not just a temporary fad. In my home, at least, there’s not a white wall in sight. Even the garage has deep ocean blue walls.

Before you start dipping brushes (or hiring a professional crew) there are three big things to consider. You’ll be talking these things through with your designer to help you narrow down the million-and-one ways to cover a wall.

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  1. COLOR

Be bold. Pick a color that makes a statement, and then choose different colors for different rooms to give them each a unique design. These colors should be complementary throughout your home (especially where they meet at corners and in hallways), but you don’t need to keep them all in one color family. The same is true for wallpapers, which you should feel free to mix with paints — and with other patterns —throughout your home.

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  1. TEXTURE

Most people think of paint as a two-dimensional thing, where texture is nothing more than choosing eggshell or semi-gloss finish. But paint can add beautiful texture to a wall if it is done right. One of my favorite examples of this is mineral painting, a technique I learned a lot about with artisan Eddy Dankers. I commissioned Eddy to paint many of the walls in my home; his technique created unique tones and textures that feel like they’ve been on the walls since some Venetian artist painted them in the 1600s.

Wallpaper, of course, brings even more texture options, since beyond simple paper you can choose vinyl, grasscloth, woven, silk, and paper weave, and even options embellished with foil and hand-painted elements. Remember to look at large paper samples under a variety of lights and at different angles; they’re likely to look dramatically different in the showroom and living room.

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  1. SPACE

Color — whether it’s painted or papered on — has an amazing way of changing a space. Light-colored ceilings can make the room look bigger (and no, ceilings don’t have to be white). Dark colors can make the room cozier. Statement walls can bring pops of color into a design or draw the room together. A great designer can create rooms-within-rooms — or even create flow through a house — just with the use of color.

Spend a few minutes looking at the images I’ve posted here, and look around Pinterest and Instagram. You’ll soon start to see that the walls aren’t just something you need to cover — they can actually be where great design begins.

Are you gearing up to add some interest to your boring walls? Tell us about it in comments, and then get rolling!


Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at mary@spaldingway.com.

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